What Are Citations and Why Are They Important?

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A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms. Citations help Internet users to discover local businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings. Local businesses can actively manage many citations to ensure data accuracy.

What are the components of a local citation?

The core components of a citation are a company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) and can also include a reference or link to a designated page of the company’s website. In addition to this, a citation may incorporate some or all of the following elements:

  • Reviews
  • Business categories
  • Hours of operation
  • Driving directions
  • Business description
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Payment forms accepted
  • Links to social and other forms of media
  • Email addresses

Why do local citations matter?

Local citations significantly influence two scenarios relating to local businesses:

Local citations either positively or negatively impact local search engine rankings. The number of citations a business gets, the accuracy of the data they feature, and the quality of the platforms they exist on all influence rankings. Search engines like Google amass data about each business. If what they encounter is accurate, the search engine trusts the validity of the data, which will strengthen the business’ chance of ranking well. However, if the data search engines encounter is inconsistent, this trust is eroded, lessening ranking opportunities.

Local citations either positively or negatively impact consumers. Accurate citations help people discover a local business, which can result in web, phone, and foot traffic, culminating in transactions. Inaccurate citations, however, can misdirect customers, leading to loss of reputation and revenue.

Citations are an important part of the search algorithm and are used by the search engines to help determine where to rank your site amongst the competition. In simple terms, for small and local businesses if you have more citations than the other man then you will likely be returned above them in the search engine result pages.

Are you a real business?

If you are a real business then you likely have an office and an address and citations are simply a tool that Google uses to verify that you are indeed a real business. Getting citations from high-quality sites often requires verification via phone or postcard so the citations that are more tricky to obtain are often the ones that carry the most weight with the search engines as they are less likely to be manipulated or faked.

In many cases, for small businesses, operating in a given city or town, citations can be a powerful way to ensure you are more visible and get found for locally driven search queries. Citations are publications of your core business data on the Internet. They influence consumer discovery and local search engine rankings. Accurate citations positively impact rankings, reputation, and revenue, whereas inaccurate citations detract from these assets.

The more niche local business citations sites can vary from country to country, but some examples of the most popular and influential websites and platforms that display citations are:

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook
  • Apple Maps
  • Foursquare
  • Mapquest
  • Yelp
  • Angie’s List
  • TripAdvisor

As you can see, even Google has local citations, in the form of Google My Business (possibly the most important SEO citation out there). If you are a local business and you haven’t gotten a GMB account yet, it’s time to get one now. Need some help? Drop us a message here so we can talk about it.

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