In simple terms, local citation means when the name of your business is mentioned on the web.If you want to improve your SEO ratings, then local citations are very important because they will help to boost your search rankings to a great extent. When we say that the name of your business is mentioned, it can be anything like just the name of the company, the name along with the phone number or the name along with the contact details and the URL. A complete citation refers to those kinds of citations which includes everything like the name of the company, address, and the phone number. Such citations are called NAP( Name, Address, Phone Number). Any citation which doesn’t include these will be called as a partial citation. Apart from NAP, you will also find people talking about UNAP or NAPW citations. The W, in this case, refers to Website and the U refers to URL. It is an advantage if the URL to your website is mentioned because it will lead outsiders directly to your website through the URL and your search rankings will also increase.
However, even if the URL of your website is not there, it doesn’t mean that the citation is not valuable. The main benefit of a citation is that the name of your business is mentioned on the web. The more your name is mentioned on the Web, the more it will be easier for Google to identify you and your search rankings will increase accordingly.
There may be two kinds of citations: 1) structured citations and 2) unstructured citations. Structured citations refer to the citations which are mentioned in a proper listing website. For example, websites like Yelp are examples of listing websites. Here, when you submit the name of your business, all the details will be provided.
And unstructured citations refer to those citations which are not there on a listing website. For example, when your business name is mentioned on a blog or a magazine, it is known as an Unstructured citation.
Importance of Citations:
1) Establish Trust:
Nowadays with the increase in the number of scams, people don’t trust a business quite easily unless it is very popular. Hence, in order to succeed, your first job will be to create trust in the minds of the people and for this citation will help you a lot. It helps the various search engines like Bing and Google to verify that your business exists. When various sources on the Web have credible information about your business, it is a clear sign that your business is indeed legitimate. Hence, if you are a business owner, the first thing which you need to do is to make sure that your business is listed on the local or national business listing directories.
2. To Gain Prominence:
In order to improve the profitability of your business, you need to increase the traffic to your website and that is only possible if you have a good SEO ranking. Various search engines like Bing and Google consider Citations as one of the most important factors while ranking websites. It is also quite obvious. If your website is mentioned in hundreds of pages as compared to a few, the Search Engine algorithms will obviously rank your website higher.
Citations vary in their value:
It is quite obvious that not all citations will be the equal in value. For example, if your business name is mentioned on a reputed website like Yelp, it will obviously hold more value than a spammy website. Hence, we can classify the various sources of data and the various search engines on the basis of their importance.
1. Core Search Engines:
These refer to the popular search engines like Bing and Google. When people search for a topic, they usually use one of these engines.
2. Primary Data Sources:
These refers to those websites whose job is to collect the data from various sources like government websites or telcos and then distribute them to hundreds of other sites. Some examples of Primary Data Sources are Acxiom and Factual.
Now, coming to the websites, there are various tiers on the basis of how frequently people use them.
Tier 1: In Tier 1, you will find those websites which people generally use to search for a business. Some of the examples of Tier 1 websites are Yellow Pages and Yelp. As a business owner, you should always try to get your business listed in one of the Tier 1 websites.
Tier 2: In this Tier, come those websites which are not as popular as the Tier 1 websites but still plenty of people use them while searching for businesses. Your first aim should be to get your business listed on the Tier 1 websites. However, if you fail to do so, then Tier 2 websites are also good enough. They will give you prominence. Some examples of Tier 2 websites are YellowBook and HotFrog.
Tier 3: In this Tier, come those websites which are not very frequently used. Even if your business gets listed in the Tier 3 websites, it won’t be of much help. Some of the examples of such websites are Yellowwise and Local Database.
Tier 4: In this tier, comes those websites which you have probably never heard of like IGotBiz.com.
This is also a very important thing which you must take care of. Citation Consistency means making sure that the name and address of your business on all the websites are same and accurate. If there are different addresses in different citations, then it will have a major impact on your SEO ratings. Hence, your first job is to make sure that all your citations on the Tier 1 websites are consistent. For that, you may have to remove or update some of the citations. After you are done with the Tier 1 websites, you may have to remove some of the incorrect citations in the Tier 2 websites. If you want, you can also move to Tier 3 or Tier 4, but they won’t have much of an impact on your SEO rankings. Even if there are some incorrect listings in Tier 3 or Tier 4, there will be no issue.