The importance of consistent citations in local SEO

The importance of consistent citations in local SEO

If you’re focused on local search engine optimization, then it’s important to keep your citations consistent and accurate, otherwise you’ll be missing out on traffic that you could be getting from Google Maps and other mapping services. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to keep your citations consistent, so there’s no reason to let a small detail like this hold you back from reaching new customers. Here are three simple steps you can take to make sure your citations stay on the up-and-up.

What are citations?

Citations are where you list your company’s websites and domain names. This is different from backlinks, which is where you list other sites that link to your site or content. In order to rank in Google search results for a particular location, it’s important that all of the citations used for different versions of your business’ name are consistent.

Types of citations

  • Business listings;
  • Local directories;
  • Local news publications;
  • Partner websites;
  • Local libraries;
  • Other online sources like Google My Business and social media profiles.

Why do citations matter?

Citations matter because search engines use them as validation of an individual’s credibility. The more credible you are, the higher you rank in SERPs and the easier it is for potential customers to find your company. It’s also important that citations be consistent, otherwise you can get penalized by Google and even removed from their listings. When citations are inconsistent, they could hurt your business or boost your competitors’ rankings.

Is it time to clean up your citations?

One of the first things that you should do when getting started with local search engine optimization is take a look at your citations. If there are duplicates, put the good ones on one site and the bad ones on another. As for those that aren’t on either of those lists, you’ll need to request them in order to get more attention.

What happens if you don’t take action on outdated listings?

The older your citations are, the more likely it is that they’re outdated. The internet moves fast and so do the changes that impact where you rank on Google’s SERPs. Businesses are always updating their profiles, new listings crop up all the time, and phone numbers change constantly. If you don’t take action on these outdated listings, they’ll continue to hurt your online reputation—potentially turning away new customers from clicking on your page or hovering over links.

When Google crawls your website, they look for other websites that link back to you. If they find out-of-date citations linking back to your site, it’s a good indication that the information on your site is either inaccurate or outdated. To avoid this issue, make sure that you remove broken links from your website as well as make sure that any other site linking back to you does not have broken links too.

Do you have duplicate listings?

Many listings have duplicate content from other listings, which can lead to decreased visibility. If you already have duplicate content, there are a few things you can do in order to get your citations consistent. Revise your listings with proper titles and descriptions for each listing. Make sure the same title, address, phone number, hours of operation and website URL is used on all of your listings. You may also want to include images or videos that pertain to your business as well. Be sure that any new information is added, so you don’t lose out on potential customers who find your listing while searching.

Creating new citations

The first step in the process is figuring out which local citation sites you should be listed on. Some of the more well-known sites are Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Manta, and Yelp. Next you will need to get your business’ information together. The exact information that goes into your citations is determined by the particular site so make sure you take a look at each site before submitting anything and give them what they need.

Tools for working with citations

This is where your citations can come in handy. If you are not familiar with citing sources, this process will take some getting used to. If you have never created a citation before, we would suggest starting with an online tool such as Easyswift or CitationMapper. Both of these tools have tutorials and easy-to-follow instructions for creating citations. After using these tools for a while, it becomes easier to create citations on your own using Word or Google Docs.

Steps in a nutshell

First step – Identify what you need to improve

When looking for ways to improve your local search performance, the first step is often identifying the areas of your business that need improvement. Once you identify these problem areas, figure out how you can change them. It might be as simple as updating the hours of operation or giving more detailed address information on your website. Remember, quality content and strategically-worded business listings are key.

Second step – Make sure your data is up-to-date

The second step in any strategy is maintaining the data associated with your citations. Make sure you know when and how often your data is being updated so that you can better manage it. You want accurate information on listings, whether it be new or updated reviews, hours of operation, phone numbers and more. Always strive for the most up-to-date listing possible because doing so can boost your site’s reputation among search engines, leading to higher rankings.

Third step – Add new business listings

It can be tempting to add a new business listing first, and then create citations after. However, adding a business listing first will make it easier to find the right citations once they are created. This is because if you know the general industry and location of your new listing, you’ll be able to find relevant citations much more quickly.

Last step – Evaluate all of your citations

Now that you have a list of all of your citations, you need to evaluate them. Check out each citation’s location, target keyword and relevance to your business. Remove any old or irrelevant citations, such as expired listings on outdated platforms. Be sure to add any new ones that you might have missed in the first round. Finally, go through the process again every six months or so as part of your regular maintenance routine for local search engine optimization.

Conclusion

Keeping track of your local search strategy

Citations are essential for local search marketing because they keep your business listed on review sites and other important directories, not only those found within Google Maps. A website is like a resume of sorts, that professional summary page where the world can find out more about you. The best way to ensure your business is properly represented on this site? Stay consistent with citations, which will make all the difference in what visitors see when they come to your site.

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iCEA Group
iCEA Group
Category: SEO
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