As a local business owner, it’s important that you do everything you possibly can to give yourself a leg up. Competition in your chosen industry is likely to be fierce, and with mega-corporations snapping up more and more business among customers who want to prioritise convenience, local businesses are struggling to be seen. That’s why you need to make sure that your online presence is as robust and as visible as it can possibly be. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can do that as a business owner.
One of them is to make sure you’re up on what are called “local citations”. If you’ve never heard this term before or never come across it in your travels, then you might not be aware of how important local citations are. The truth, however, is that local citations are a huge part of how your business is going to make a name for itself. Here’s our rundown on what local citations are and why they’re important for local businesses.
What is a local citation?
A local citation, in a nutshell, is a mention of your business online. This could be a full mention of your business name, or it could be a partial citation. You could also see your business address or phone number online, as well as any other information that’s pertinent for bringing in customers. You may also see local citations referred to as NAP data, which stands for “name, address, and phone number”. In short, a local citation is any mention of this information online.
What are the different kinds of local citations?
There are several different ways you might see your business getting local citations online. Here are some of those ways.
- Search engines. One of the main ways your business will get local citations is through search engines like Google or Bing. As you might imagine, this is likely to be the primary way that you can identify local citations.
- Directories. Human-edited web directories still exist online, and there are sites run by automated services as well. If your business is mentioned in one of these directories, then you’ve got yourself a local citation.
- Your own site. Local citations still count if they come from your own website; if your site contains your name, address, and phone number, then it counts as a local citation.
- Data aggregator services. If you’re familiar with services like Foursquare or Neustar Localeze, then you should be aware that those services can also count towards local citations online.
- Industry sites and platforms. There will be sites and platforms that are specific to your industry out there. If your NAP data is mentioned on one of those platforms, this counts as a local citation too. Examples might include guild websites or professional organisations related to your business’ industry.
Why are local citations important for businesses?
Your business needs local citations in order to organically build traffic to your online presence, and in so doing, hopefully to build a customer base as well. Local citations draw more customers to your business, especially if they’re placed organically, and they also help your site to rank on search engines thanks to local SEO.
If you’ve ever used Google to search for a business and seen many local results at the top of the page, then you’ve seen why local citations are so important. Getting more local citations online means that you’ll likely place higher in Google’s local search result window, which obviously will be beneficial for you and your business.
How can you check local citations?
There are a number of ways that you can check your local citations and see where you stand in this incredibly important SEO area. Here are a couple of the main ways to do just that.
- Search sources manually. Sources like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms can be searched manually for local citations, and you can also comb data aggregates and other sources as well. It pays to perform a by-hand citation check, because doing so could help you identify citations that automated search tools could miss.
- Automated tools. There are plenty of tools out there that will help you check your citations automatically. Doing so is a huge time-saver; you won’t need to worry about painstakingly combing sites and platforms by hand, so you can get on with what’s important for your business.
The best way to check your local citations is to use a combination of by-hand manual searching and an automated software tool. This will give you the best overall impression of what your local citation status looks like and how you can improve it to make your local SEO approach more effective.
How can you get local citations?
The best way to get local citations is simply to submit your business data to some of the platforms we’ve mentioned above. Maintaining a social media presence is extremely important for building local citations, and so is creating your very own professional website. Without a website to land on, many users may think that your business isn’t professional, which could lead them towards one of your competitors.
If you want to build local citations, just make sure to maintain a robust online presence, ask your customers or clients for reviews or feedback when your business is concluded, and make sure to claim your business on data aggregator sites like Foursquare as well.