If you’ve been looking at how you can boost your search rankings in your local area, you may have come across local citations. These are a basic element of Local SEO which should be completed for any business in which their location is important to them.
In this article we look at what exactly a local citation is, how they’re used by search engines, why they should be important for your business as well as how you can check and update your local citations.
What Is A Local Citation?
A local citation is essentially a directory listing for your business which has to have a few specific elements to it. The requirements for it to be a citation listing and not just a directory listing are often referred to as “NAP” which stands for:
- (Business) Name
- Phone Number
Notice that a web address isn’t required? That’s because building local citations isn’t a link building activity and benefits around having them are for your local rankings. Many people will shun some types of directory listings because they’ve been seen as spam in the past, but that doesn’t mean that all directory listings are. There’s also no reason why your website shouldn’t be on the citation listing either, if you get the option to list it then you should. You should try and complete these listings giving as much information as possible in order to give the best experience to people who use them.
How Do Search Engines Use Local Citations?
So if search engines aren’t using local citations as a linking factor, how are they used? Essentially to check that your business is legitimate and who they say they are. The expectation from search engines is that any business which is trading in a location with multiple listings which are accurate across different directories and if it differs between different ones then there may be an issue which the business and the information may not be accurate.
It’s therefore important that all your citations are consistent in order to help search engines identify who your business actually is.
How To Check And Update Local Citations
Checking and updating local citations can be quite time consuming and some of the directories don’t make it as easy as it could be to update them. Luckily for most businesses your local citations are likely to be a one off task.
The first thing we’d recommend doing is getting together a list of directories you should be listed on. This may differ depending on your country and industry. If you’re in the UK then this list by Bright Local is a good place to start.
You can then search for your business on each directory and check whether the details are correct and add or update listings where necessary. There’s also numerous tools which will do this for you.
You should now have an idea of what local citations are. On their own they’re unlikely to make too much difference to your local rankings, however as part of an overall Local SEO strategy they lay the foundation for future ranking improvements. If you’d like to find out more about SEO and how we can help you with yours take a look at our SEO page.