What are citations and why are they important?
Do you have a great website but you’re having trouble getting traffic from local sources? It’s important to think about how you plan on getting local traffic if you plan to make a majority of your business transactions in a brick and mortar store. You may get an occasional hit from a visitor down the street, but how can you get your business information out there in a way that it comes up on Google more frequently when performing local searches? Even with the best photos, related alt text on images, and engaging content on every page, targeting and acquiring traffic from areas nearby are a top priority if you want to keep your doors open. Citations make up about 25% of your ranking on SERPs so ensuring your citations are correct and consistent are the key to getting on map packs and local searches on Google.
But what exactly is a citation?
A citation is any reference to information about your business listed online and is searchable. The 3 most important are Name, Address, and Phone number. We call it NAP in SEO. We also include website in a citation as well, although NAPW isn’t as catchy.
Although those are the most important, Google indexes most of the information you provide about your business and makes it searchable. Website URLs are also one of the top, along with email addresses, social media links, and company images. Depending on the industry, citations sources may be different.
How do I make sure they are correct?
The single most important aspect of having your citations spread all over the internet is consistency. Google is pretty smart, and keeps learning every day. This is why when you search for something spelled incorrectly Google autoMAGICALLY searches for the correct spelling. Google steps in and says, “Hey buddy, I know you searched for ‘best kitens on the internet’, but I think you mean ‘best kittens on the internet’”.
However, Google isn’t smart enough to differentiate between inconsistent citations. This is why it is vital to make sure your Name, Address, Phone number, and website URL are exactly the same wherever it comes up. There are several tools online offering to send out all your citations for a one-time fee, which is the easiest and quickest solution. Check out Moz Local, Whitespark, and Brightlocal to see which options best fit your budget.