Do you remember how the head or prefect of a segment of students was picked back in school? It was usually based on the number of awards or accolades the candidates had received. The student with the highest volume of credible certificates to his name would be given the title. Sound familiar?
The manner in which local search rankings work is similar. When a user types in his search query, the results that show up are based on multiple factors. One of the main criteria that decides search rankings is the number of citations the business has.
What are local citations?
A local citation is an accurate mention of your business’ Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) on a local directory or website. The reference to your business does not necessarily have to feature a link to your website.
Let’s say you have mentions of your business on other websites with additional information like your business working hours, size of the company, business categories, a business description, images, videos etc. These mentions also get counted as citations. It means that - in order for a reference to qualify as a citation for your business, your NAP needs to be featured.
Impact of citations on local SEO
Citations have a strong impact on your local SEO. Search engines rank businesses with more number of citations higher. However, it is not just the volume of local citations that is the deciding factor. Along with volume, you have to ensure that the source of citation is credible and that each citation is also accurate.
You cannot have a hundred citations on websites or directories with weak domain authority and expect to rank number one on search results. Similarly, you have to ensure that your NAP is uniform on your website and on these directories. If not, it will have a negative impact on your local SEO.
Websites like Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, Bing Places, etc. have highly valued citations because they have good domain authority. These are also sites where customers can review you. Hence, citations on these websites can also be used by your business to improve your overall star rating.
On the other hand, you should also look at building citations for your business through press releases or references in online publications. These could be regional, national or even internationally - known sites. Websites that host guest blogs, press releases, news publications, image (and/or) video submission sites, etc. should be put to use.
Why should I check competitors’ citations?
Any business that offers services or products similar to your own will end up targeting the same audience. In a constant attempt to grow your business, you should always keep a close eye on your competitors.
Now that you understand the importance of local citations, you should definitely keep an eye out for your competitors’ citations. Firstly, if you are not present on any of the directories that your competitors are on, you know that you should get there! Secondly, you will understand how actively your competitors are working on building citations for their business.
Where can I check my competitors’ citations?
There are a bunch of free tools available online for this purpose. All you have to do is fill in a bunch of basic details and voila! The tool will pull out the list of citations. You can try this tool to start off with.