Citation building is the most effective way to build local SEO juice for your business.
Citations need to be a foundational part of your local SEO strategy.
Google's 3-pack local listing model makes citations even more crucial. To get listed here you need NAP consistency across the web. High-quality directory mentions lend to your prominence in search engines.
Here we talk about the 7 things you need to know to get started on citation building.
What Is citation building?
Directories have become a very popular way for people to find your business.
Listing your NAP (Business Name, Address, and Phone Number) in these directories is citation building.
Distance, relevance, and prominence determine local search engine rankings.
High-quality citations on industry specific directories give your business more prominence. More prominence equals more local SEO juice. More juice equals higher rankings.
Types of citations
There are two types of citations for local businesses. Structured citations and unstructured citations.
A structured citation will be a complete listing of your business. These appear on local business directories such as The Yellow Pages.
An unstructured citation isn't so straight forward.
These are mentions of your business that contain partial NAP info.
Say you have a clothing store and a fashion blogger happens to come in. If she writes about the amazing blazer you're carrying that's an unstructured citation.
The blogger will generally use only your business name or your name and phone number. The info is incomplete but this still counts as a local citation.
Your first step: a citation audit
You want to discover where your business is already listed before you launch a campaign.
Doubling up on citations is a no-no and will get you pinged.
Reach out to a company that specializes in citation building. They can provide you an in-depth citation audit. The audit will list the citations your business currently has out on the web.
Check these existing citations for accuracy before adding more.
Quality over quantity
Quality is far more important than quantity in citation building.
You want to get listed in the the highest quality industry related directories you can find. Appearing in directories unrelated to your industry send up red flags in search. For example, if your business is "XYZ Mortgage" you shouldn't be in "Real Estate Agents New York".
This tactic is actually one of the top SEO mistakes to avoid in 2017. Focus on getting citations in the top industry and niche directories.
Get into the details like "Top 20 Mortgage Brokers for First Time Buyers" or "Best Brokers in Your Area for Refinance".
These will gain prominence for your business, not listings in "Best Realtors in Newark".
How do I build quality citations?
You can build citations yourself by finding the best directories for your niche.
Make a list of the directories you would like to target and break them down by niche. Submit your business' NAP to each directory. When completing these citations keep detailed records.
You will need to continue to manage these directory listings, because NAP inconsistencies have a negative effect on local rankings.
Here's the thing...citation building and managing the directory listings is a LOT of work. Managing the large amounts of citations becomes confusing.
Mismanagement can result in NAP inconsistency and result in a drop in local rankings.
As a business owner, you won't have access to the highest quality directories either. It's your best bet to trust a professional to build and manage your citations for you. A professional team will be able to manage hundreds of directories, and they will also have access to the highest quality directories.
What does that mean? Faster and better rankings for your business.
Making the most of your efforts
Keeping a constant eye on the business information you control is key. Everything must match for the citations to work.
Check your website. Make sure every address is correct and current.
Create a Google My Business Page. You'll need an address where you can receive a postcard to verify your business address is real.
During the creation of this page, you'll pick a category for your business. Pay close attention and pick the category that is closest to your business' niche.
To see a difference in rankings this category needs to be correct.
Check this page often to make sure nothing has changed.
Keep an eye on your citations. If you're using a professional ask for reports. They should provide all the links to the directories you're listed in.
Check back on these every so often to make sure your information is still correct.
Remember, you are your business' best advocate. Know what's going on.
Make a plan for getting reviews for your business page
To give your citations more juice you need reviews. You could go buy reviews off a shady, cheap offer on the web, but this is a bad idea.
Search engines know how to spot spammy and fake looking reviews. Your best bet is to develop a strategy to encourage reviews by your current customer base.
Put signs up in your storefront noting your profiles and encourage customers to give their email address. You can then send out an email blast asking for honest reviews on your Google My Business page and provide the link.
Make it easy for your customers to leave reviews. Do you have an online store on your site? Give them a review button to click after they check out.
Better yet, set up an email to go out to them after delivery that asks for an honest review.
Encourage them to leave a star rating and a comment. This makes the review look much more genuine and new customers will trust it more.
Reviews with only star ratings don't have as much credibility.
Make a plan for getting reviews for your business page
Citation building is crucial for your local SEO rankings. It's the easiest way to help people in your neighborhood find your business.
Finding your business means more customers, which in turn means more money.