Local Citations & SEO: Everything You Need To Know
When it comes to driving sustainable local traffic to your site, we usually think about local citations and local SEO.
Many experts and SEO specialists have different views on local citations and their roles in SEO. But one thing is for sure ━ we should not write them off the list completely. That’s because local citations can improve your local visibility and add merit to your business’ reputation, which is crucial if you’re operating locally.
But what exactly are local citations? And how can you use them for your company?
To answer those questions, Red Search brought together the ultimate guide for local citations. Read on to help your brand succeed in the local competitive landscape.
What Are Local Citations?
When looking for a local product or business online, you might have stumbled upon a local citation in search engine results.
For starters, local citations are business listings that you can find on social media sites, forums, and most commonly, online business directories. They help establish and boost a brand’s local SEO by providing customers with a direct channel to find relevant business information.
A local citation can comprise your business name, office address, and contact numbers (NAP).
You can also add important business information such as operating hours, product reviews, social links, media content (product/service photos and videos), and other business details that your customers can find useful.
Types of Local Citations
You can find two common types of citations when browsing for local brands.
Structured citations are by far the most common types of local citations. You can find structured citations of local brands on user-submitted online business directories.
You can tell a structured citation listing because it usually has all the details a customer needs from a brand. It has the business name, address, number, and other information such as directions, photos, website links, operating hours, and customer reviews.
Just like structured citations, you can also find relevant business information on an unstructured citation. However, you can’t find these entries as is, as unstructured citations insert these details between the posts.
In other words, unstructured citations are articles and posts written about a business that aims to provide the same information you would get on structured listings.
On the other hand, the issues with unstructured citations are that businesses can’t control how third-party reviewers present their information online. It can become a problem, especially if reviewers share inaccurate details from unreliable sources.
Where Do You Find Local Citations?
Where you share and post your citations is just as crucial as what information you post on listings. That’s because Google looks at your online listings and will cast you in a negative light if it finds your business NAP on unreliable and spammy directories.
Additionally, black hat SEO tactics such as posting citations on several low-quality websites to be more visible on search engines can result in severe SEO penalties. That’s why the professional SEO community frowns upon spam and malicious SEO practices.
Hence, you need to be more vigilant on where you post your local citations and only add your business NAP on:
- Popular and reliable business directories — Such as the Yellow Pages and Yelp.
- Region-specific sites — if you’re operating in Sydney, then having your brand featured on a site dedicated to all things Sydney should help your business.
- Local Data Aggregators — You can have a reliable local aggregator take care of your business NAP listings on your behalf.
- Media and PR outlets — Gaining local citations from news outlets is immensely advantageous. Besides, earning local news mentions is a rare opportunity that can turn local traffic to your favour.
- Industry-Specific Domains — You don’t want your brand to appear in places where it won’t reach your audience. Hence, it only makes sense to add your business listings on niche-specific domains.
Keep in mind that individual business citation sites have their own rules and policies you should follow. That said, reliable business listings will have strict rules and verification steps to follow to keep their trust and authority in shape.
For instance, Google Business Profile lets brands sign up their businesses without any cost. However, you need to comply with a comprehensive verification process, ensuring that you own the company and that you are legitimately operating in the local area.
Businesses need to pass specific verification standards to prevent fraud. Doing so maintains the site’s high standards and avoids brand catfishing, where a competitor could impersonate your listing and mess with your brand image.
How Local Citations Improve Your SEO & Rankings
Investing your time in submitting local citations will return six-folds to your SEO and search rankings. Consistency is of utmost importance among the many reasons to have a local citation for your brand.
Consistency Means Reliability
Your business NAP or name, address, and phone number should be uniform and consistent across the web. Maintaining consistency and integrity on local search information will also impact your overall sales directly.
That’s because wherever your customer finds your business, they’ll be able to get in touch immediately without misleading themselves with wrong information.
But it doesn’t end there, because consistency also impacts search ranking.
Google crawls local citations and business listings differently. It also uses business citations to index and identifies how your brand can rank on relevant search keywords. Google does this by collecting all brand mentions on listings and determining whether they are consistent or not.
From there, Google will find consistent brands that signed up for high-quality directories as trustworthy, verified, and reliable businesses. Thus, your brand can rank higher in Google SERPs using local citations.
Providing Up-to-date and Accurate Details
Posting accurate details on business listings increase the chances of users and consumers to share the right information about your business. People, just like search engines, also look for nearby brands on local citation sites, so you should target them as well.
Additionally, 93% of consumers will feel frustrated after contacting the wrong business number or finding out a different address when looking for a physical store. In other words, your listing details directly impact trust factors and reliability.
Why Should You Invest in Local SEO
At this point, you should already know how local SEO plays a vital role in improving your business presence and reliability. To further discuss this point, here are other reasons you should invest in local SEO.
Most Local Consumers Use Online Search to Find Businesses
Local SEO is almost analogous to Yellow Pages. Traditionally, people would scour the yellow pages whenever they look for a local product or service. Now, all it takes is one Google near me search, and anyone can find the most relevant local brand for that particular query.
Moreover, surveys reveal that only 5% of people never did a Google search for a local business. If you managed to post your brand on reliable listings successfully, you could take advantage of the remaining 95%.
Convert Your Users When They’re Willing to Buy
When signing up for Google Business Profile, you have the choice to classify your brand in specific categories. Consequently, you can also provide product/service descriptions and incorporate your target keywords.
Additionally, how you categorise and describe your brand impacts which search keywords you can rank. What that means is you have control over which consumers your website will appear to. Not only that, but you can also take advantage of local users that are willing to make a buying decision.
In other words, Local SEO can put you in front of your target local consumers, resulting in improved sales and leads for your business.
Local SEO is a Need in the Mobile Era
With smartphones becoming prevalent and widespread, gone are the days when people stroll around the place, looking for a spot to eat. Anybody can simply look up a nearby cafe on the internet, on the go and anytime they need it.
That makes local SEO a crucial and indispensable component for search, as your target users will be searching for your products at the exact moment that they need it.
Keep in mind that tourists flock to Sydney all year round. If they suddenly crave for a cup of coffee, they can simply pull out their phones, search in Google Maps for a nearby coffee shop, and find local packs showing the nearest coffee spots.
So if you’re among the leading coffee shops in the city, it’s almost a no-brainer to dominate the local search landscape for your niche. You can’t afford any missed opportunity for consumers that will readily buy your products.
Local SEO is Efficient and Provides Outstanding Results
As discussed, signing up your business for an online directory is free. That said, nothing beats the impact of starting with your local SEO.
Aside from cost efficiency, local SEO also provides outstanding results when it comes to driving quality leads and product sales.
Moreover, more than half of mobile users that use local searches will visit a store within a day. 18% of those searches ultimately lead to a purchase within the same day. Thanks to its high conversion rates and meager startup costs, local SEO provides your brand with a considerable return on investment (ROI).
Setting Up Local Citations is Simple
If you’re willing to set up your local listing, you can easily do so yourself. But if you decide to have a dedicated team tend to it, having an SEO specialist set up your Google Business Profile Page is also a great idea.
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned professional in local SEO, you can almost always improve it and ensure your listings are updated and accurate.
Online User Reviews are Perfect Testimonials
User reviews always matter. In a recent local search survey, 57% of online customers said they would only engage with a business’s product/service if it had 4-star reviews or more. 60% of users also say that negative Google reviews will decrease a company’s quality and trust factor.
Listing your brand on Google Business Profile lets your online and physical customers leave reviews about your business. It also establishes an impression for potential and existing consumers about whether or not your services are credible.
You can also ask your customers to rate your business on Google as a way to reinforce your brand credibility and reputation.
Besides, Google Business Profile reviews are among the leading factors in ranking on local packs. That way, organising better means gaining a better first impression of your target users.
How Much Do Local SEO Cost?
Small-Scale Local SEO Campaigns
If you’re aiming to start a small-scale local SEO campaign for a new location, local SEO costs typically start from anywhere from $1,000 per month and can scale upwards from there. This option is ideal for businesses operating in only one place or starting in a new area.
Keep in mind that a small-scale campaign doesn’t include all nooks and crannies of a comprehensive strategy. However, it can improve your brand’s local search ranking and drive more local traffic to your site.
Comprehensive Local SEO Campaign
A full-blown local SEO strategy may include the following:
- SEO Website auditing
- Link building
- Review management
- Citation optimisation
- Mobile SEO
- Personalised Reporting for easier ROI tracking
Setting up local citations lets businesses leverage new opportunities that provide clear, measurable results for growing Australian businesses.
Establishing a robust and reliable local citation campaign will boost your brand’s authority and credibility regardless of structure and online listing.
Finally, planning and streamlining an actionable local SEO strategy that’s cost-efficient is possible when you work with an experienced Sydney SEO agency.
If you have questions about local SEO, please call our SEO experts at 1300 101 712 or drop a message in via contact form to discuss more.