As a small business owner or marketer, you know that a strong online presence is key to attracting customers and making more sales.
With billions of search results being performed on search engines every day, it’s important that your business not only shows up there, but uniquely.
One of the best ways to improve your business’s visibility and drive more website traffic is to create local citations.
By doing so, you will increase your chances of appearing in local search results and gain more visibility for your business. And with more attention comes more sales—that’s easy.
Here, we’ll discuss why small businesses need local citations and offer five simple tips on how to do it right (and fast!).
In the end, you will have a better understanding of not only how local citations can benefit your business, but also how to get on the first page of search results and in front of more customers.
What are Local Citations?
Local quotes are online mentions of your business that include your name, address, phone number, and other relevant information such as customer reviews and hours of operation.
They can come from a variety of sources, including directory listings, social media platforms, review sites, blogs, and news articles.
Local citations are important for small businesses because they can improve local SEO significantly.
Search engines like Google and Bing use local citations to verify the accuracy of your business information and the relevance and authority of your business about the local community.
The more citations your business has, the more likely it will appear at the top of local search results, which helps drive more traffic to your website.
Local citations can be divided into three broad categories:
- Local listings
- Data collectors
- Industry-specific/niche sites
Local listings are directories and websites that focus on a specific geographic area, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Google Business Profile.
Data aggregator networks like Neustar Localeze and Data Axle will, for a small fee, distribute your business data to a network of other sites and directories. BrightLocal offers support for transferring to five major data aggregator networks to make it painless.
Finally, industry-specific or niche sites are sites that produce listings directly related to businesses in a specific industry, such as Zillow for real estate agents or Avvo for lawyers.
Why is Local Citation Structure Important?
Here are some reasons why producing local citations is so important for businesses.
It helps with SEO
Citations play a vital role in local SEO by communicating to search engines the legitimacy and importance of your business in your area.
For example, someone may say they have been in business for years tending a local lawn, but without proof, why should we believe it?
By adding online citations as listings and reviews, you convince Google that you deserve to rank higher when someone searches for their lawn care needs in that area.
Consistent and honest information about your business from multiple sources builds trust and credibility, improves your search engine rankings, and improves visibility in search, which drives traffic to your website.
According to one study, 7% of local search ranking factors are citation signals.
Therefore, small businesses that want to show up in local search results and attract more customers need to make sure they have accurate and consistent quotes. Such efforts are worthwhile.
Build Trust With Prospective Customers
Accurate and consistent quotes help build trust with potential customers, increase your credibility, and establish your business as a leader in your industry.
People trust reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. So ensure that by monitoring your sites and encouraging existing customers to give you feedback on these sites, you can attract potential customers to try your business.
Increase Visibility for Your Business
Creating local citations can help you increase visibility for your business by not only improving SEO but also getting your business listed and featured on more sites and online.
For example, by creating local citations for your business in directory listings, you can attract customers who use those sites, features, and maps to find new businesses. Similarly, if you create local citations on community news sites, you can reach more customers who use the sites as a tool to find new business.
By identifying the right local citations for your business, you can increase the chances that your potential customers will find more locations online.
Types of Local SEO Citations
Local citations can be divided into two broad categories: structural and structural citations.
Both types of quotes can help improve your local search rankings, but they differ in their format and where they appear online.
Structured quotes follow a specific format and appear on websites such as local directories and review sites. They include information such as your business name, address, phone number, and website URL. These citations are often called NAP citations because they contain your name, address, and phone number.
Examples of user citations include Google My Business, Yelp, and Yellow Pages.
Structured quotes provide a unique format for your business communications, and help improve your local search rankings. They also provide valuable backlinks to your website, which is an important local SEO ranking signal.
However, they take longer to process and may charge for premium listing in some directories.
Structured citations, on the other hand, are mentions of your business that don’t follow a specific format and appear on various websites such as blogs, newsletters, and social media platforms.
Examples of structured citations include mentions of your business on social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram, blog posts, and newsletters.
Structured quotes are more flexible than unstructured quotes and can also help improve your local search rankings.
However, it may not always capture all of your business data and they can be difficult to track, process, and analyze.
A structured quote also runs the risk of misinterpreting your message, creating headaches for your prospective customers trying to get in touch with you.
In the next section, we will explore practical tips for generating local appointments that will help improve your online visibility and attract more customers to your business.
5 Local Citation Building Recommendations
Use these tips to create and optimize local appointments for your business.
Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile
Claiming and improving your Google business listing is an important first step to improving your chances of appearing in local search results. Your Google Business listing will appear prominently in Google search results and provide valuable information about your business, such as your address, phone number, operating hours, and customer reviews.
To claim your Google Business profile, go to the Google Business website and follow the verification steps for your business.
Once your listing is claimed, it is important to improve it by providing accurate and detailed information about your business.
Here are some tips for improving your Google listing:
Select the appropriate categories. Choose the best categories for your business to help Google understand what your business is about.
- Provide factual information. Make sure your business name, address, and telephone number (NAP) are consistent across all online directories and websites.
- Use high-quality photos. Add quality photos of your business to showcase your products or services.
- Create a compelling business story. Your business description should be concise, informative, and contain relevant keywords.
- Encourage customer reviews. Positive customer reviews can boost your local search rankings, so it’s worth encouraging customers to leave reviews on your Google listing.
By claiming and improving your Google business listing, you can improve your visibility in local search results, attract more customers to your business, and significantly increase your online reputation.
Use Local Directories and Niche Sites
As I mentioned earlier, adding your small business to local directories and niche sites is a smart strategy to increase your online presence and get more visibility in local search results.
Local citations are critical for search engine algorithms that determine which businesses to display when consumers search for products or services online. By listing your business in these directories, you increase your chances of being ranked highly by Google and thus being discovered by potential customers.
Here are some popular local directories and niche sites that you can use for local appointments:
- The Yellow Pages
- Angie (formerly Angie’s List).
- Travel Advisor
The most important thing when creating your listings in these directories is to ensure that your business information, business name, address, phone number, website URL, and hours of operation, are accurate, up-to-date, and specific.
If you change your phone number later below, please update all of your quotes as well. Consistency is important to avoid any confusion for both your customers and search engines.
If Google finds different ways to find out, they may decide not to show you at all to avoid a bad experience for their users.
In addition to the popular directories mentioned, there may be industry directories that serve a niche or geographic area of your business.
These sites may have a more targeted audience and are best suited for small businesses with a niche market or service. For example, healthcare businesses want to be listed on HealthGrades, Vitals, RateMDs, and more.
A few minutes of online research will reveal some ideas for sites you can use to book appointments in your area. You can use inventory management tools to help with this.
Use Data Collectors
Data aggregators are websites that collect and distribute business data on your behalf to various directories and search engines.
It centralizes business information and makes it easier for search engines to display factual information about your business, which can attract more customers and improve your online visibility.
According to HubSpot, the most popular data aggregators for local businesses to submit their data for local SEO in 2023 are:
- The Data Axis
- Resident of Newstar
- the truth of the matter
Note that many other data collectors are involved. Some may require you to pay to list your business, while others offer free listings. It is important to research each option and choose according to your budget and business goals.
Check and Update your Local Citations
It is not enough to just label a day with your citations. It is very important to regularly review and update your quotes once they are available.
Inconsistent or inaccurate quotes not only create a poor user experience but can also harm your local search rankings.
To help keep your citations up to date, consider using a citation tracking tool.
Many tools like Moz Local, BrightLocal, and Whitespark will help you check your citations in different directories and sites and fix errors instantly. You can also use LocaliQ Business Listings Grader to see how your listings appear online and where you need to make updates.
This helps keep your business information consistent and accurate across all directories and sites.
Encourage customers to leave reviews
Improving your local search rankings can be done by encouraging customers to leave reviews.
Positive reviews are a key factor in local search algorithms and businesses with more of them rank higher in search results.
Here are some tips to help you encourage your customers to leave reviews:
Ask for it. Ask your customers for reviews in person, on social media, or via email to provide a review. Show them that you value their opinions and appreciate their help.
Respond to reviews. Respond to all positive and negative reviews. Thank customers for their feedback and address any issues or concerns they raise. This shows that you are engaged with your customers and committed to providing excellent service.
Remember, it’s important to follow review site guidelines and avoid any actions that appear fraudulent or manipulative, such as paying for reviews or writing your own.
Boosting customer reviews is a powerful way to increase your local search rankings and ultimately drive more traffic to your website.
Key takeaways: Local citation processing is better for SEO
In conclusion, local quotes are critical for small businesses and service providers to improve their online visibility and attract potential new customers.
By following the practical advice in this article, businesses can effectively generate citations and establish trust with their audience.
Ultimately, citation building is an important part of local SEO that helps search engines understand the relevance and authority of a business in your local community.
Here are five of the best (and easiest) ways to make local appointments:
- Claim and improve your Google Business Profile
- Use local directories and niche sites
- Use data collectors
- Check and update citations in your area
- Encourage customers to leave reviews
With personalized and accurate quotes, small businesses can build their credibility, position themselves as industry leaders, and gain a competitive advantage in the online space.