Make sure you read right to the end of this post because I clear up the one mistake that almost every business makes that greatly decreases the effectiveness of their citation building. First lets clear this up:
What is a local citation?
A citation occurs when the name, address, and phone number (NAP) for your business is published elsewhere on the internet. There are many different forms of citations and countless different places you can create them online. The core of the citation is your NAP however there are other things that are commonly included as well. These include a brief description of the business, website address, opening hours, photos, logo, and others.
Here is an example of a citation on yellowpages.com.au:
As you can see the business name, address, and phone number are clearly listed. The website and email are also listed.
This is a perfect example of a citation.
Structured vs Unstructured Citations
There are two types of citations. The one above is what’s called a structured citation. This means that its on a website specifically created to publish citations. Generally these are the most powerful because Google is familiar with these large directory sites like Yellow Pages and the information is easily accessible.
The second type of citations are unstructured citations. Unstructured citations are when your NAP is mentioned anywhere else on the internet. This can be a body of text in an article, at the bottom of a blog post, or a press release. While these are less powerful than structured citations you should definitely build some for diversity.
Why are local citations important?
Local citations make a strong contribution to your organic Google ranking, especially the ones that come with a backlink to your website. However, where they really shine is in getting your Google Maps listing showing up on the first page in the set of 3 maps listings right at the top of the results. The most important factor is still correct on-page website optimisation of both your website and your Google Business listing, but off-site citations are the next most important factor.
Having a large and diverse array of NAP citations indicates to Google that you’re a well established business and a quality result to display on the front page.
Having consistent citations is absolutely essential to succeeding in ranking on Google Maps
The biggest mistake we see businesses making with their citations is overlooking inconsistencies and duplicates in their NAP citations. Take a look at the Google Business listing for the company we used in the example above:
You’ll notice that both the address and the phone number are different. This means that Google is not going to match the citation to the Google listing, resulting in no value from this citation.
The business owner needs to update the citation to the exact same format as the Google Business listing.
Common mistakes we see here are things like Ste or Suite instead of a #, Avenue instead of Ave, or completely missing unit/suite numbers. It’s imperative that you clean up these listings so that your NAP is consistent everywhere it’s listed.
Duplicate citations also cause problems, especially if you have duplicate listings in Google Business. To get rid of duplicate Google listings use the report feature to notify Google that they are duplicates.
Adding New Citations
Once you’ve cleaned up your citations it’s time to build more. The directories that you can add your business to will vary by country, but here are a few examples:
With the help of Google you should be able to find hundreds more. Make sure to get your NAP correct!
How to steal your competitor’s citation locations
The easiest way to find new places to list your NAP is to find a business appearing in the top spot in the maps section for a competitive city and then put their address into Google surrounded by “”. This will display every page their address appears on, you can then scan through the results for directory listings where you can list your own NAP. This is a handy way to copy what the best companies are doing and succeed in the results for your city.
Taking these steps to create an extensive, diverse, and most importantly consistent array of NAP citations will help push your business into the best position at the top of the Google Maps results on the first page.