Local citation management is an essential part of your online presence. Learn how citation management can help you stand out from the competition, get information on citation building software, and explore the benefits of this powerful digital marketing tool in our guide below.
Did you know that customers search for businesses local to them every day? In fact, locally-oriented searches take up nearly 50% of all Google searches processed by the search engine giant. In simple terms, customers turn to the web to learn about businesses in their area before making purchasing decisions.
Do a search for your own business on local search engines. Is your business data appearing at the top of search results pages, or are you nowhere to be found in search results?
If you want to learn how to supercharge your business online, our guide to local citation management and local citation building strategies provides all the answers you’ll need to dominate local business listings.
Benefits of Local SEO: Putting You in Front of Your Customers in Local Searches
Among the great tools for building citation authority, local SEO leverages traditional SEO (search engine optimization) practices but focuses on improving visibility in searches with local intent, such as “business near me.” This strategy also helps get businesses on Google Maps, starting with claiming your business on Google and taking charge of your local SEO.
So, what are the benefits of local SEO? There are many:
- Local SEO brings traffic to your business website, digital properties, or landing pages.
- It boosts local rankings in local search engine results.
- It improves conversion rates, particularly among local customers.
- Local SEO allows you to reach target audiences and explore new markets.
- It lowers advertising costs when compared to traditional ad outreach strategies like print or television/radio advertising.
- Helps collect more reviews from local customers.
- Allows for continuous and organic business growth.
- Creates a web of links between local businesses.
Local citation services leverage local SEO; in fact, both are intertwined in such a way that one cannot exist without the other. When you embark on building citations for your business, you are positioning your company with a strong online reputation, great visibility, and improved customer reach cost-effectively and efficiently.
Search Engines Focus on Locally-Oriented Searches
As stated earlier, just under 50% of all Google searches have local intent. These searches are being conducted by customers eager to find businesses close to them. When someone searches for a business or place near their location, they are likely to find locally-oriented results in search results as well as on Google Maps.
Searchers may use desktop or mobile devices to find information. On mobile, voice search dominates as a quick and easy way to find business information wherever you may be. Your business website and information can be optimized for voice search; in today’s digital landscape, taking that extra step can put you in front of prospective customers close to your location.
Local results are evaluated by Google’s search algorithm, which then determines local ranking. Here’s what Google has to say about the rank tracking process:
“Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. A combination of these factors helps us find the best match for your search. For example, our algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.”
The key takeaway as a business owner is this: if your business name isn’t listed in online directories or on citation websites, you may be missing out on a huge chunk of potential business connections.
In our next section, we’ll explore local citations and how to build citations that connect you with customers in your area.
What are Local Citations?
Local business owners know that in order to grow a business, you need to attract new customers from your area. How can you do that in a cost-effective manner?
The answer is local citations. A local citation is defined as:
“Any online mentions of a business name, address and phone number, and contact details. The citation does not have to be complete; even a partial mention qualifies as a local citation.
Think of local citations as the modern equivalent of the printed information in YellowPages directories. People don’t use those massive books anymore; they are far more likely to search on their phones or tablets for details about local businesses.
A local citation may include business details like:
- Business name
- Partial business name or alternate name
- Physical address
- Address and phone number
- Additional phone numbers for specific personnel or departments
- Operating hours
- Addresses of multiple locations if applicable
This business data can appear on company websites, local business directories, social media profiles, blogs, mobile phone apps, business websites, and industry-specific web properties. When your business information is listed on the web, you’re setting the stage for greater reach and better connections with the potential customers around you. Every local citation represents a way for you to stand out online.
Five Categories of Local Citations
- Local citations on search engines — business listings directly on search tools like Bing, Google, Yahoo, and Apple/Apple Maps.
- Citations on data aggregators — data aggregators are business platforms that collect local business data, then share it with other services. Data aggregators include platforms like Localeze, Foursquare, Data Axle, and YP.com.
- Geographic or industry-specific sources — local citations on websites or directories specific to a geographical region or industry niche. These sources may include Chamber of Commerce websites, websites managed by professional or industry associations, and industry-specific news outlets.
- Major directories — major directories include review sites like Google Reviews, Trustpilot, Tripadvisor, and Consumer Reports, to name only a few of the hundreds of such review platforms available to list your business on.
- Unstructured local citations — this category includes any reference or mention of a business online, including any mentions on local news outlets, blogs, government sites, or local forums.
Essential Information About Local Citation Management
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “I know what local citations are…how do I manage them?”
Local citation management is the process of creating, updating, and monitoring every local citation placed in every online business directory you can find.
As you might imagine, this can be a time-consuming process. As you gather basic information for your citations, you will have to make manual submissions to each directory. If you need to update inaccurate data, this means going to each directory and submitting the updates.
Do you or your staff have the time and the knowledge needed to manage local citations effectively? If not, a local citation management service is the ideal solution.
Citation management is comprised of several key components, including:
- Building local citations.
- Identifying and deleting duplicate listings.
- Placing citations on citation websites.
- Submitting business data to data aggregators and business directories.
- Optimizing citations with accurate information.
- Using a local citation finder to identify new opportunities for getting a business listed.
- Updating older citations to remove inaccurate data.
- Conducting a citation audit to determine which business listings are producing the desired visibility in search results.
- Claiming a Google Business profile for a business, then optimizing that profile for visibility on Google Maps and local searches.
- Using local citation software tools to build local citations and remove duplicate listings.
There are many pieces of the local citation management puzzle. If you struggle to manage local citations or simply don’t have the experience to get the most out of this digital marketing strategy, a service provider is happy to help.
Strategies for Building Local Citations
Building local citations may look easy on the surface — adding your business information and phone number to directories and hitting the “submit” button — but in reality this process can be quite complex.
To make it easier to understand, here are some critical strategies used by local citation management professionals to ensure great citations and the desired results:
Claim Your Google Business Profile Immediately
If you haven’t already, now is the time to claim your Google Business profile. Google Business is a free service that lets any local business owner claim a business, then populate the listing with critical business information like phone number, address, name of business, etc.
Once verified by Google, your listing will appear in search results and on Google Maps. This step alone is key to success for local SEO and as a primary listing management tool. One other benefit of a Google Business profile is that you can assign secondary categories to your business, potentially capturing the attention of web searchers.
Create Business Listings for Local Level Use
After you’ve claimed your Google Business profile, there are many other options to list your information. You can use a listing management tool to identify local directories or simply visit sites like:
- Local Chambers of Commerce websites
- Social media outlets
- Better Business Bureau
- Angie’s List
- City Data
- Local news outlets
- Other businesses that list surrounding companies as part of their own directories
As you add listings, beware of low-quality directories that may not get the traffic you desire or don’t have the domain authority needed to rank in search results. A citation management tool or local citation finder can help you select the best directories for your needs.
Incorporate a Local SEO Strategy
A local SEO strategy is essential for success in the digital world. Think of local SEO as an extension as a virtual digital marketing agency, positioning you in front of the customers who make your business grow.
Adding locally-oriented terms to your company’s page or other websites is relatively easy. With this strategy in place, you’ve enhanced your online presence. Now, get ready to enjoy the new business this visibility will bring to your front door.
Get Placed in Local Directories
Local directories may not get the same amount of searches as popular review sites like Google Reviews. However, when discussing influencing your local community, a local listing can be a powerful strategy. Local directories often have the name of a city, a state, or a community built right into them, so Google is well aware of the specific location that these online directories are pulling from.
One benefit of adding your NAP (name address and phone number) to local directories is that you can use the built-in SEO of that existing platform to your advantage.
An Overview of Popular Local Citation Software Tools
Local citation software is used by reputation management and local SEO professionals to produce results for their clients. The same local citation software tools — tools like SEMRush and Moz Local — are available to anyone willing to purchase a subscription.
Here is a look at some of the most popular software tools on the market:
Brightlocal is the gold standard of local citation software for local businesses, offering a host of tools and applications to help create and maintain quality listings in local directories and online business directories on the regional/state levels.
Perhaps the most helpful tool in the Brightlocal service is its Citation Tracker, which allows businesses to collect data on visibility — what information is listed and where the citation is located — while informing the next steps of the citation-building campaign. With local search rankings monitoring solutions like this, it is easy to see why Brightlocal is trusted by the business community.
SEMRush is trusted by small companies and Fortune 500 corporations alike. The firm’s business listing management service allows business owners to update business information with just a few clicks of a mouse. As a listing management tool, SEMRush offers a simple-to-use dashboard that helps you manage listings for multiple business locations at once.
SEMRush also allows you to compare your listings with your competitors, identify customer sentiment, and create new listings on hundreds of directories.
Boasting a network of 60,000 partners, Vendasta offers a wide range of solutions to its customers. As a management tool for local citations, the integrated dashboard allows users to quickly create, modify, and delete business listings or existing citations. The same dashboard also features powerful tracking tools to improve the efficiency and reach of your citation-building campaigns.
For businesses with multiple locations that need multiple listings to stand out, SOCi is the ideal tool to build local citations. Its dashboard allows you to create listings, refine existing citations, delete duplicate listings, and ensure consistency across all of your local citations.
In addition to its function as a listing management tool, SOCi also provides tools for social media engagement and tracking. In short, it’s an all-in-one tool to supercharge your digital presence, no matter what type of business you operate.
More than a software service for managing local citations, Yext is billed as an all-in-one digital marketing and e-commerce tool for expanding your digital footprint and improving local search visibility.
Yext manages a network of 200+ third-party publishers and sites on which to share your brand’s business information, ensuring excellent visibility in online searches for local businesses. Integrated tools take the guesswork out of managing your citations, balancing the time-cost equation perfectly.
Contact OnlineReputation Today for Local Citation Management Solutions
OnlineReputation is a leader in managing online reputations, including customized local citation management services that help your business connect with customers in your geographic region.
Our expert citation submission team has the experience and knowledge needed to effectively manage your profiles on local business directories and business listings, giving you competitive advantages that help you grow your business.
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