Citations are references of your local business on other websites. Citation links can be created on local directories, review and Internet yellow page portals, and other niche sites. Citations don’t always have a link to your website. They may just mention the associated name, phone number, or business address. And often these citations can be just as strong as traditional links.
Local Link Building Strategy
Citations are an important part of SEO for your local businesses. And over years, with the patents, changes to search results, and local pages design Google have made, specific local marketing efforts are more important. Citations contribute to a good link building strategy for your company, especially if you have a clear cut branded image. Even a mention of your brand name helps you rise in SERP rankings because the citations lend to your credibility and authority.
Some local internet marketing experts have debated over whether citations provide an accurate reflection of web marketing trends. Google’s recent removal of citation sources from the Local Places page design has many speculating if this indicates that citations are no longer important. We see evidence to the contrary. The change in the design does not automatically mean there was a change in the search algorithm.
Citations Give Your Customers More Opportunity to Review Your Business
Reviews and user generated content are also an important part of a good local marketing strategy. And the citations you build on review sites open your business up to more reviews. And reviews are a form of user generated content. Recent changes to Google SERPs hints that user generated sentiment are an influential signal in their search algorithm and effects rankings for local businesses.
As of this moment, Google cannot depend solely on its own data as an accurate source; they must rely on others and this includes reviews of your business. Google relies on an aggregation of external directories and listings for reviews. While Google may be trying to cut out the other local sources eventually, this may not be the inevitable result with the advent of mobile apps. So until then, build citations and build them everywhere with accurate data and full profiles.
Local Factors Trumps Freshness
For awhile Google focused a lot on “freshness” as a relevancy indicator for their search results. But 1 in 5 searches on desktops have local intent, so in order to remain relevant to its users Google has been focusing on localization for some time now. And let’s not forget that local advertising avenues are worth billions of dollars, so it’s not surprising that Google is trying to dominate this market too. There’s so much opportunity as print advertising starts to convert to online. If anything, Google’s aggressive push for relevancy in local could easily double their current revenue. (Yea, no kidding!)