The correlation between citation building & rankings
There are a lot of elements that go into proper SEO and ranking your business online. If your business is local, citation building can be extremely helpful. However, as with many things, using citations in the wrong way can end up hurting your search engine rankings. Better to first to learn the rules of the game and then play it better than anyone else. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about citations and how to use them to build your online presence and increase your SEO.
What are Citations
Citations are defined as an online reference of your Business Name, Address & Phone Number (NAP). They are used by search engines to weigh both the accuracy and popularity of businesses in their indexes. An example of a Citation would be Yelp, White Pages or your local Chamber of Commerce. Citations are a key component of the ranking algorithms in Google & Bing which can dramatically improve your business local search engine rankings.
How Citations Affect Rankings
With local search ranking being a major factor for local businesses, we need to consider the correlation between business citation building & rankings. Citations help improve your business’ local SERP (Search Engine Results Page) when you create relevant and consistent NAP across the web. The more consistent, relevant and localized your citation is, the more likely your business will be ranking in the local pack. Citations are another source of a credible backlinks that both Google & Bing consider when your business NAP is consistent across the web. Theoretically, the more citations you have, the higher you will rank locally. Higher rankings mean more web traffic, which in turn equals more business.
How Citations Affect Your Business
The more visible your business is online, the more chances you have to convert leads into sales. Building the right type of citations will help more people become aware of your business and improve your overall ROI.
Just submitting your NAP to every citation directory out there won't end up helping your rankings. To make a positive impact, you need to build the right type of citations for your business. Doing the initial research on finding the right type is just as important as setting up the online reference itself. Accurate and relevant citations build trust and credibility for your business on the web and will improve your overall search engine rankings.
Building citations by itself won't improve your conversion rate by tenfold overnight, but can certainly help to increase your business' online visibility. Over time, these consistent and credible online citations will bring more potential customers to your business' web page, helping to increase your conversion rate.
If we haven't made it clear already, being consistent is a major factor of building effective citations. Any inconsistencies with your NAP can dramatically hurt your local search rankings. Inconsistency is a key reason businesses fail to successfully build local citations.
You must build citations that are relevant to your business. If you’re a local auto shop, then there is no point to building a citation on a home improvement site. Yes, it’s another citation & free link but it’s not relevant towards your business. Your potential buyers will not be searching for you there nor will Google give you credit for having an irrelevant citation. At the end of the day, you need to make sure you create relevant citations for your business. All major search engines understand what type of business you are so they expect you to be in the same places your potential customer will be. Being relevant in all your citations will greatly improve your rankings.
3. Avoid Duplicates
Duplicates citations can have negative consequences on your web presence and should always be avoided. Make sure you're organized and only submit your business to each reference site once. It’s a good idea to create a list or use a third party tool to manage all you current, new & pending citations. Duplicate citations confuse search engines and customers. Over time, duplicates hurt your credibility, trust, and rankings.
5 Basic Types of Site you’ll want to get Your Business listed on:
1. Data Aggregators
Data aggregators are companies that maintain and supply the underlying business database for local search directories. These companies compile data about businesses from multiple online and offline sources. We recommend getting listed on these main sites: Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom and Factual.
2. Horizontal Directories
Horizontal directories are websites such as Yelp & Angie's list. It’s important to have citations on these type of websites so you can get business reviews, which are key metrics in the local algorithm.
Having your business visible on sites that your clients visit will increase its online relevance. If you operate a massage practice, then putting your site on the proper local massage practitioner directories is highly recommended. As we've mentioned before, search engines understand what sites your business should and shouldn't be on. Doing the initial research is imperative to narrow down the industry specific citations you need, making sure your efforts are effective and not harmful to your rankings.
Google may already know where your business is located, but trust and credibility is built when your website is on region specific sites such as 2findlocal.com, ablocal.com and others. The more localized links and citations you have the higher chances you will have in ranking for local searches.
5. Event Sites:
If you’re hosting an event for your business, add your business to an event site such as eventful.com. This practice will help increase your rankings as well as the event's visibility in the local area.
5 Citations Your Local Business Must Be Using in 2016
By now you know that business citations have a major impact on local rankings, visibility & your overall online performance. The key component is to build consistent and credible citations over time. For your business' sake, it's unwise to create 100 citations all at once, and never create any more. Instead, conduct consistent, monthly research for the type of citations that best fits your business’ needs. If you have any questions or need any assistance, don't hesitate to contact us at Bonsai Media. We love this kind of stuff and are always looking for ways to help local businesses grow online.