How Are Business Citations Valuable to Your SEO Strategy?

March 9, 2022 | citations

Business citations are one of the essential elements of local SEO. Several SEO managers start their careers by managing citations for numerous stakeholders. When citations are created accurately, citations can present to be extremely manageable and even lead to more improved local rankings. However, if citations are done inaccurately, they can be a nightmare to have to clean up. This article is your guide to what citations are, and how they are of major value to your overall SEO strategy.

What Are Citations?

Citations are defined as an online reference relating to a business listing that features your address, name, and phone number (NAP). Generally, when marketers refer to citations, they’re talking more about a collection of individual businesses on countless sites.

Managing citations is one of the essential elements of local SEO. If all information is listed correctly, this can dramatically boost your online presence. The majority of citations take on the formation of a business directory online, but there are other types of citations that do exist. 

Even though the minimum amount of required information for the majority of citations is the address, phone number, and name, many websites offer much more opportunities to add additional information. 

What Are Types of Business Citations?

There are various sets of citation websites and there are numerous Search Engine Optimization specialists that argue about which type of citation is more valuable than another one. However, when it comes to local SEO, generally the SEO community agrees that these following citations are considered to be critical.

  • Google Business Profile (GBP)
  • Bing Maps
  • Facebook 
  • Yelp

Hundreds of prospective websites that list a business online exist, but not every website is considered to be applicable for your particular business. For this reason, there are citation categories that exist. Several types of citations for various businesses exist ranging from:

  • Real estate
  • Healthcare
  • Attorneys 

There are a few citations that seem to have a higher domain authority than other citations. It’s important to note that the category relevancy is much more vital than the domain authority. For this reason, it’s critical to get listed in this industry. 

Citations vs. Link Building 

Some SEO managers mistakenly group citation management into link building. Even though the process does involve building links for a website, the actual intent is different. Search engines such as Google stated they were able to understand and recognize the difference. 

Why Are Business Citations Important for SEO?

Piggy Back Page One Results

An underreported benefit of citation building is that a few online business directors influence and dominate page one of local search. Websites such as YellowPages and Yelp tend to persistently rank high for the majority of local searches. As the famous and true quote indicates, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” These online directories provide other opportunities for earning real estate on page one.

Improve Local Rankings

As mentioned above, citations are considered to be an important ranking factor for local SEO. Being able to have a business listed in trusted online directories sends Google signals to improve the extent and degree of reliability that the business exists. Below is one of the reasons why it’s extremely important to wisely choose citations. 

The following can affect how Google assesses online presence:

  • Quality of online directories
  • Accuracy of the listings 
  • Quality of listings 

Earn Referral Traffic

Many individuals find themselves loyal to various citations, such as Yelp for restaurants. Several foodies are almost trained to head over to Yelp when searching for new restaurants. They will do that before heading to Google. Being able to get listed in as many prospective directories as possible can earn valuable referral traffic. 

How Do You Pick the Right Citations? 

It’s important to know beforehand that with all of the citations available, it might not be attainable to get your business listed in each one. Whether the matter at hand is the cost restraints or the time, you might discover yourself struggling as you narrow down the list. The quantity of citations is important, but you shouldn’t get stressed out because you’re unable to list your business in all of them. 

If you are utilizing a tool during the citation process, there might be limits to how many directories they can sync with. Upon deciding which citations to list your business in, a great rule of thumb is, to begin with, the online business directories that present to be most relevant to your industry. There are numerous online lists of top industry citations sorted by business category and they are the following:

  • WhiteSpark – Best Citations by Category 
  • Moz – Citations by Category 

After you’re finished establishing a solid list of industry-specific online business directories, it’ll be most ideal to attain a list of general citations. BrightLocal has a stellar list of some of the most popular citations. The greatest online directories are the ones that prospective customers use. For example, numerous individuals use directories such as HealthGrades to actively engage in a search for a doctor. This directory not only displays relevancy for healthcare companies but also drives referral traffic. 

What Are Some Tools to Help Manage Business Citations?

Various tools can help manage online business directories. All of them vary in the following areas:

  • Functionality 
  • Features 
  • Cost

The majority of them also utilize similar citations. This can certainly make it more of a challenging time when attempting to decide what tools to use. However, there are numerous items to consider when searching for the right listings management tool. 

What to Look For in Citation Management Tools?

Citation Variety 

  • Does the tool allow an individual to select specific directors or does it choose for you?
  • Or does the tool offer the option to select industry-specific industries?

Does It Offer Duplicate Suppression?

  • How accurate is the detection of duplicates?
  • Is it easy to manage suppressing duplicates?

How Does the Tool Setup the Citations?

  • Does it use aggregators or have a direct API to the directories?

Tracking 

  • Can it sync to other tracking tools?
  • How accurate is the tracking?
  • What kind of tracking features does the tool offer?

Price

  • How does it compare to other tools with similar features?
  • Does the price fit my budget per location?

How Do You Optimize Citations?

Citation management is not just putting your business out there, but truly optimizing its presence using the following key factors. 

Descriptions

Business descriptions can assist in improving local rankings by adding in the top keywords. Descriptions can also assist search engines in better understanding your business.

Website Links 

Many businesses simply link to the home page. However, a more effective approach is to have it link directly to a location page. This will reduce the user’s steps in obtaining the information they are searching for and it has the same effect on search engines. Through your website’s content, internal linking to other pages on the site that is relevant to your business is vital to have a chance to boost traffic and visibility on search engines. 

NAP Consistency 

NAP Consistency refers to having a consistent address, phone number, and name across all the listings. There have been numerous independent studies that have proven that obtaining a consistent NAP listing might factor into local SEO.

Reviews 

Having stellar reviews not only helps you earn new businesses, but it can also help improve your rankings. Google views the review sentiment on 3rd party sites to scale the overall quality of businesses.

Photos 

Adding photos of your business might help improve the customer conversion rates along with help your business rank, if optimized properly, in image searches. 

Business Category 

There are some citations such as Google My Business that allow individuals to select from secondary categories. This can help a person rank for secondary targeted keywords. 

How Do You Track and Measure the Overall Value of Citations?

Engaging in listings management is considered to be an investment. Your current stakeholders will strive to know if the investment is paying off. As mentioned, several tools offer various ways to track citation performance and statutes. However, there are a few steps you can also take as preventive measures. 

Track Citation Statutes

Some tools acquire open APIs with directories that assist in keeping citations alive. However, some tools solely establish listings. Businesses can lose citations for a plethora of reasons. Therefore, it’s vital to track the status of your citations. If the tool you prefer using doesn’t offer a way to track citations, below are 3rd party tools that do.

Screaming Frog

They offer a free version, however, the paid version is highly recommended and super affordable. You will be able to create scheduled crawls of the URL to check the response codes.

Little Warden 

This also offers a paid tool and it’s affordable. You would be able to utilize this tool to monitor the response codes and a good amount of various URLs. By setting this up, it can alert you pretty quickly if any of your citations disappear. 

How to Track Citation Performance?

Though numerous tools can track varying degrees of performance, there isn’t any that can track how they perform on your website. You can track individual site performance via the acquisition report, but there isn’t a way to track the global performance without creating a custom report. An easier option would be to add UTM tracking to the URL’s then add the same Source or Campaign name to your URLs. 

We Can Help Manage Your Local SEO Strategy

Business citations are a huge part of local SEO. By understanding the different types of citations, and link building, you are on your way to optimizing your website to rank better! Improving your local rankings and earning referral traffic is super important to make a difference in your business. Be sure to use citation management tools and track your performance to get ahead of the competition. 

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Tiarsha Harrison is originally from the Bronx, New York, and has been living in Boca Raton, Florida for 15 years. She is a published freelance writer, whose work can be viewed in various magazines online. Tiarsha is a sweet, witty, and vivacious soul who loves her family, friends, and those around her. In her free time, Tiarsha enjoys spending time with her 1-year-old Morkiepoo, Prince, dancing on a ministry team, listening to many Youtube videos and sermons, and spending time with her family and friends. Her favorite quote is, “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” She truly believes that.

By Tiarsha Harrison
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