The importance of citations for local SEO in 2021 will continue to increase. One of the reasons is that 2020 has been quite a turbulent year. Generally speaking, for many business owners, it means they will have to adapt. Mostly because of the changes in customers’ behavior, but also because of the rising needs for different types of services. Fast delivery and close proximity are becoming more important factors, especially for brick and mortar businesses. Given these points, you will have to place more effort in optimizing for local SEO and creating citations, if you want to remain competitive. Meanwhile, an effort to appear higher in local SERPs remains. And this is where citations can be of great use.
How important are citations for local SEO in 2021
Local businesses are usually concerned about reaching customers in their area. They want them to easily discover their business and quickly get all the information of interest. Unlike general SEO which places focus on a global range, local SEO focuses on the nearby audience. And one of the best ways to accomplish this is to rank your business higher in local search results. Of course, this is possible with the help of citations. They are and will remain one of the most important factors for local ranking.
Your local SEO
According to numerous studies, more than 90% of consumers search for local businesses on the internet. That just demonstrates that local SEO plays an important role in today’s digital marketing. Basically, it helps businesses to successfully operate in a specific area in more than one way:
- Local SEO helps potential clients discover and reach you.
- It provides all the necessary information in a convenient way.
- Good local SEO will help you stand out in local SERPs and drive more traffic.
- The accessibility of information motivates consumers to take action.
- When properly optimized, it will build trust with potential customers.
… complete or partial mentions of your business online. In essence, this data contains information like your business Name, Address, and Phone number. Usually referred to as NAP. Depending on the location of citations, they can also contain a link to your website, working hours, and other useful information.
Search engines like Google use this information to verify your business. And, more importantly, as a factor when deciding where to place you on search results. The sole process of building citations can require a lot of time and effort. Since it needs a lot of quality citations to beat your competitors, business owners usually hire SEO professionals such as AZ Citation Services to handle their listings.
Building your citations
More than half of internet searches are done with local products or services in mind. And this trend will probably continue to increase in 2021. This is the reason why local businesses should focus on building citations now more than ever. Besides it’s being a demanding process, the information you enter must be accurate and consistent. So, whether you are starting from scratch, or acquiring already existing online mentions, this is a requirement. If you are not so familiar with citations, you should consider finding an SEO specialist to assist you.
Where to list your business information in 2021
There are numerous places where you can list your citations. However, you should focus on those that provide quality. Some of the most popular are:
- Google My Business
- Industry-specific directories
- Data aggregators
- Government websites
- Chambers of commerce
- and many more
Google My Business (GMB) is probably the most fundamental place for your local SEO. Basically, it’s one place that gives all kinds of information about your business. Including basic citation information like NAP, but also many more.
Other business directories and data aggregators are also an inevitable choice. Mostly because they provide updates to the majority of websites and help spread your business information online.
How search engines use citations for local SEO
Most search engines use citations as a source of information to help them list your business in their local search result. They basically keep the record of various businesses and evaluate them for ranking. They use specific criteria to do this:
- evaluate the relevance of citations
- measure the authority of the source of citations
- take into account the total number of citations for your business
These three factors will help them determine if your business is reputable, popular, and worthy of placing in their top search results.
Build your citation with this in mind
To get the most out of your citations, there are several things to keep in mind. First, all your citations have to be accurate and consistent. Second, you will need a considerable amount of quality citations to be competitive. Finally, you need to regularly clean your listings with the help of citation cleanup services to get proper results.
Without consistency in your citations, you are risking lowering your overall local search ranking position. That’s why it’s important to provide correct NAP information across all your listings. With wrong information, you can easily confuse search engine bots, but also your potential customers. Google pays close attention to providing the best possible user experience so they value clear and accurate info. Also, wrong info will, inevitably, cause a loss of trust with your customers and negatively impact your business operation.
Remember, your competitors are also optimizing their citations as a part of their local SEO. This is the reason you need a high number of citations to remain competitive. But, the quantity is not the only factor. Your citations need to be quality citations and in popular and reliable places. There is no point in making hundreds of citations on suspicious websites. Especially because no one is seeing and using information from such places.
Cleaning and reviews
When building your citation profile, duplicate listings can pose a significant threat to your local SEO. Duplicate listings, slightly different listings, and incomplete citations will have a negative effect on your local rankings. Just imagine if someone is looking for your product. They type in the search, find your business, but the address or working hours are wrong. This will definitely cause a loss of trust.
Today, the importance of citations for local SEO is rising because there is a growing need to check the reviews before taking any action. Normally, if Google finds your business is piling up negative reviews, they will push you down the ranking ladder. In general, you do this by checking and cleaning all your citations across the web. And also taking good care of your customers and their reviews.