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Citations – the secret recipe for better local rankings

Posted on 18th February, 2020 by Andrew Dutson

Search Engine Optimisation

Businesses small and large rely on customers being able to find their business. Whether this is on the high-street or on the internet, if you want to grow your business you need to make sure your customers can find you. Citations are online references to your business and focus on three key pieces of data which are Name, Address and Phone number which are known as NAP. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the importance of citations and how they can help your business get better local rankings in the search engines.

What counts as a citation?

A citation is simply a listing for your business on another website that features your NAP and in most cases additional information such as website address, business description, photos, and reviews. Citations are used by the search engines as a way to help verify that a business has a physical presence in a particular geographic area. Local citations also help to show that a business is part of a local community with businesses that have consistent information across their citations much more likely to rank higher compared with those that don’t.

How should citations be formatted?

Wherever possible, citations should include at a minimum your NAP information and should be formatted the same as they are on your Google My Business (GMB) listing and your company website. Consistency is an important factor when it comes to citations so whatever naming conventions you use make sure you stick to them. E.g. if you include the country code in your phone number on your website and GMB listing then make sure you include this in your other citations.

Remember if you move locations, update your business details or change your phone number then you need to make sure you update your local citations as soon as possible to avoid inconsistencies which could affect your rankings.

Where can I get citations?

For businesses looking to improve their local SEO, the focus should be on the quality of citations over quantity. Local chambers of commerce, relevant business directories and links from prominent local businesses are all great examples of local links that you should be seeking to build. In addition to these, it is also important to get citations with as many as possible of the UK data aggregators as these are used by the search engines to help build authority and trust.

In the UK there are a huge number of local data aggregators from Government websites such as Companies House to The Royal Mail and plenty of national directories. Some of the biggest include factual, Thomson local, Yell, scoot, facebook, apple and centralindex. To see a full list of the UK data aggregators and how they are intertwined take a look at this fantastic resource from MOZ.

Remember, like most things related to SEO you need to keep building citations and continue to keep them updated as and when you make changes to your business information. Also, keep an eye on your competitors to take advantage of opportunities in your sector.

Will citations help boost my rankings?

This is very dependent on whether you are already ranking locally or not. For businesses that don’t have a big local presence, building citations can really help move the needle and get you results and help you appear in the local pack. Building local citations provides a great foundation for your business and that can give you the edge over your competitors, particularly if you have a stronger local link profile.

Additional local ranking tip

Want to do more to bolster your local rankings. Don’t forget to get your customers to review your business on Google and other platforms specific to your business sector. The more positive signals you get for your business, the higher the probability of ranking on the first page of search results and in the local pack.

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