In this blog post I am going to share with you exactly how we build citations for our clients and how you can do the same for your business.
What are citations?
Citations in local SEO are mentions of your business name, address, telephone number and postcode.
There are two types of citations, those are a structured citation and an unstructured citation.
A structured citation is structured listing for your business on a business or niche directory such as Yell.com or Yelp.com. A structured listing clearly structures your business name, address, postcode and telephone number in an organised manner.
An unstructured citation is any other mention of your business details online not on a directory website. This could include a citation you place in a youtube video description or having your details published on any another website.
Citations are not all created equal. Google is also looking at the authority of each citation – in a similar way that the algorithm’s look at the authority of individual backlinks when ranking a website.
Citations from highly trusted domains carry more weight, as do those which have backlinks pointing to them.
How do citations help with Local SEO?
Google builds what is known as a “knowledge graph” about each business that is mentioned online. It is important that the knowledge graph for your business is correct and consistent.
The three primary ranking factors for Google Maps are prominence, proximity and relevance – citations help to improve both prominence and relevance, while contributing to the knowledge graph for your business.
Most citation sources are “Dofollow” meaning that they do not pass any ranking power (authority) through the links. That is not a problem for ranking on Maps as the authority does not need to pass through to your website to be included in the Knowledge graph.
How to find citation sources?
When looking for citation sources, you are looking for General, local and niche business directories.
Looking at the backlinks of your competitors is always a great starting point. The most straightforward tool to use to find your competitors’ citations is Bright Local.
The instructions to use Bright Local are detailed inside my book titled The Definitive Guide To Local SEO in 2020 – you can buy on amazon or download free here.
The most comprehensive way to find indexed citations is by carrying out a manual citation audit, full details can be found in my previous blog post titled “How To Carry Out A Detailed, Manual Citation Audit”
Two Citation Killer Mistakes To Avoid
It is of vital importance that your business details are listed accurately across the internet, remember the knowledge graph I mentioned earlier?
The two most problematic mistakes made while creating citations for local SEO are:
- Inconsistent business name & address formatting
- Duplicating business descriptions across multiple business directories
Inconsistent Business Name & Address Formatting
The formatting of your business name and address is critical to not confuse Google’s knowledge graph about your business.
Your business name and address must follow the same formatting on every mention online.
Duplicating Business Descriptions
Many business directories ask for a business description, the most common error we see is where business owners and citation listing services simply copy and paste descriptions. This leads to a host of worthless directory listings, not indexed by Google.
How to build citations?
Building citations is a very straightforward process, once you understand what a citation is, where to get them and the pitfalls to avoid.
Here are the best practices for you to follow when building each of your citations.
- Ensure your business details are listed accurately
- Une a unique description for your business and services
- Upload your logo
- Upload geo optimized images
- Complete every field that is asked by the business directories
Doing all of the above ensures your business has branded, full, complete & unique directory listings around the web for Google to index – providing you with the maximum impact for your local maps rankings.
Getting Citations Indexed and Keeping Them Indexed
Getting your citations indexed and keeping them indexed means that the citations are known by Google and they are definitely being counted in the knowledge Graph for your business.
The fastest way to get new business directory listings indexed is to use an indexing tool such as Onehourindexing.com.
The best way to keep your citations indexed is to link to them from your own website. Your contact page is a great location on your website to link out to your citations.
The most valuable citation sources revealed
The most valuable directories in terms of helping with your Google maps rankings are ones that require telephone verification, highly authoritative directories along with data aggregators.
In the UK those sources include:
- Yell (Free listing – no need to pay for their premium services)
- Apple Maps Connect
Want us to do this for your business?
Our citation building packages consist of:
- Looking at your competitors citations
- Replicating those citations
- Building citations from our database authoritative sources
- Unique content for each of your business description / bio
- Uploading of geo-tagged images to your business listings