Local citation services are designed to help your business stand out in locally-oriented searches. Learn about these services in our complete guide below.
Businesses of every size and type have one goal in mind: to be successful. One of the best ways to ensure success is to reach a steady stream of potential customers.
This goal is especially true for small business owners, who may otherwise experience difficulty gaining visibility in established local markets.
Today’s consumer turns to the web for information about businesses, using search engines like Bing or Google to locate the details they need and find local businesses quickly. Whether you realize it or not, customers search for businesses just like yours before setting foot in an establishment.
What if there was a way to rank higher in local search, target potential customers, and stand out from your competitors with strong brand visibility and a great online reputation?
The good news is that local citation services provide all those benefits and more. Local citations have the potential to drive business growth in ways that traditional advertising and digital marketing simply cannot do.
In our guide to local citation services, we’ll show you just what a local citation is, the components of a local citation service strategy, and some of the most popular tools used to build citations in the digital environment.
Local Businesses, Local Customers: Putting the Two Together
Think about your own experiences when looking for a new restaurant, auto repair shop, theater, or hotel in your area. What was your first step?
Chances are you typed a business type and location details into the Google search box and hit “enter.”
Customers behave similarly to locate business information using search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Primarily, customers are searching for business listings in specific areas, like a city, region, or state. The results of a Google search — the pages of search results generated in response to a search query — are referred to as local listings.
Is your business listed online? Can you find your business listing in all the major directories? If you can’t, your customers can’t either. And, without local customers, your business will struggle to grow.
As a business owner, the best way to connect your business to customers in your area is through the process of local citation building. If this concept is unfamiliar, read on for details about the local citation services that help you stand out in local searches.
What are Local Citations?
Local citations are 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.
Citations can occur on various web properties, including local business directories, social media platforms, blogs, apps, and websites.
Citations help people discover businesses in their area and can also influence local search rankings. The key takeaway is this: accurate information in the form of local citations, placed on the right sites, put you in front of the people who matter most — the customers who are most likely to visit your location.
In other words, when people find citations pointing to your business online, this helps them take the next step in their purchasing journey.
Types of Local Citations
There are five major types of local citations:
- Search engines — listings in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Apple. These are sometimes referred to as “local SEO citations.”
- Data Aggregators — local business data platforms like Data Axle, Localeze, Foursquare, and YP.com. These aggregators trickle business listings down to other services.
- Major Directories — Review sites like Google Reviews as well as social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Geographic- or Industry-Specific Sources — including websites or directories specific to a geographic location or industry. This may include Chambers of Commerce websites, professional association websites, and industry news resources.
- Unstructured citations — any reference to a business online, including mentions on news sites, personal or professional blogs, government databases, and more.
It is important to note that owned properties — your company’s business website or other web properties — are another powerful source of information for prospective customers. In fact, the contact details on your website are considered the most authoritative listing.
Tips for Building Quality Citations
To get the most from local citations, here are a few handy tips to help you save countless hours of work and frustration:
Create a business directory page on your company website. Include your own business listing information on the page.
Focus on quality citations, not quantity. Each citation must contain accurate and complete details (NAP: name, address, and phone number). Inconsistent listings can interfere with your ability to achieve high rankings in local searches.
Take a look at the listings of your competitors, then identify ways to make yours stand out.
Use local citation software to automate as much of the process as possible. Local citation software is used by some of the largest local citation services providers, and these software solutions are also available to business owners.
Review existing citations for accuracy by checking every online business directory your company is listed in. Submit updates or corrections, especially if your information has changed.
Avoid duplicate listings in the same directories. This not only confuses customers but may create issues with accurate indexing by Google or other search engines, affecting your local search engine rankings.
What Goes Into a Local Citation Service?
When embarking on a local citation service campaign, there are three major components to be aware of. These three components work together to spread your business information across as wide a swath of the internet as possible.
Local Business Listings
To build local citations quickly and to start dominating local rankings, the first and most important step to take is to claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing. This step literally “puts you on the map” by telling Google Maps about your physical location, business details, and contact information.
After you’ve claimed your business on Google, there are numerous other options for small businesses. Local citation building can include listing on:
- Better Business Bureau
- Local Chambers of Commerce websites
- Local news outlets
- Social media platforms (Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Angie’s List
- City Data
- Apple Maps
The more listings you create, the more likely your business details are to appear in local search results. And, the more local search visibility you have, the greater the chance of people in your area discovering your business. Ultimately, these listings help your company position itself for growth.
Local Business 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.
Companies listed on a local directory like this have a little less work to do to tie them to a geographic location or region, as the directory’s SEO has already done the majority of the work. In fact, all you have to do to unlock the potential of local directories is create a listing for your business.
You can find local or regional directories in your area by searching for “directory” or “phone book,” along with the name of your city, neighborhood, or state.
Among the great tools for building citation authority, local SEO leverages traditional SEO 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.
Adding locally-oriented details to your listings is a snap. In addition to NAP, add details like geographic service region, types of service available to local clients, addresses, and contact details of multiple locations (if available). The goal with local SEO is to help customers find you, wherever your business is located.
Local SEO software can help automate much of this process; more information on software solutions can be found in our next section.
5 Local Citation Services to Try
We’ve learned how local citations work, and why local citation services are so valuable.
Now you’re probably wondering, “what is a trusted and reliable service for building quality citations?”
Here is a look at five of the leading local citation service solutions, including services that incorporate local SEO, citation management, and other tools to make the process of building citations easier than ever before:
Brightlocal is the gold standard of local citation services for local businesses, offering a host of tools and applications to help create and maintain quality listings in directories across the web. Perhaps the most useful 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.
SEMRush is trusted by small companies and Fortune 500 corporations alike. The firm’s listing management service allows business owners to update business information with just a few clicks of a mouse.
SEMRush also allows you to compare your listings with your competitors, identify customer sentiment, and create new listings on hundreds of directories.
Citation services are effortless, thanks to Moz Local and its range of tools. This service is known for its focus on local SEO, of which local citations are a key component. Moz lets users sync listings by updating them across all platforms, automatically detecting and deleting duplicate listings on different websites, and optimizing business profiles to ensure great visibility. Moz Citations by Category also helps you look through Moz top local citations according to business categories like electronics, home services, travel agencies, etc.
Add, fix, and remove listings across different sites with the help of Tribe Local. Internet users of this software service are presented with a dashboard. The dashboard makes it easy to track mentions, edit listings, and more. Tribe’s service offers a free 7-day trial; after that, reasonable subscription fees put it within reach of small- and medium-sized businesses.
More than a local citations service, Yext is billed as an all-in-one digital marketing and e-commerce tool for expanding your digital footprint.
Yext manages a network of 200+ third-party publishers and sites to share your brand’s data with, 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 InternetReputation for Local Citation Services Today
InternetReputation is a leader in managing online reputations, including local citation services that help your business stand out in the markets that matter most: your geographic service region.
Our team of local citation experts knows what it takes to manage your profiles on local business directories and business listings, giving you competitive advantages that help you grow your business.
To learn more about our local citation services, contact our team today at 941-259-4554 for a free consultation with one of our local citation-building experts.