Citations are the future of local SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | March 07, 2017

In the world of digital marketing, the term “citation” refers to any instance in which a specific brand is directly mentioned within an online platform. These citations are recognized by search engines as a contextual form of content. For a local business, citations have the power to strengthen your brand and improve your online presence.

How Citations Help Search Engines Understand Your Business

It is no secret that search engines are getting smarter. Each time a search engine is presented with a query, it uses a complex algorithm to attribute value to the results of the search. The search engine then ranks the results according to their value. The ultimate goal of any digital marketing campaign is to ensure that your local business is among the top results.

Each time a customer leaves an online review, search engines are able to use this information to help them determine how valuable a business is for similar customers.

Citations Encourage Online Sales

Your business has invested a lot into the product or services that you provide. When customers leave online reviews or comments about their experience with your business, they are participating a form of word-of-mouth marketing. Other consumers are more likely to engage your local business if they see positive feedback from like-minded customers. This provides them with a sense of security and lends credibility to your business.

Search Engines are Smarter Than You Think

A structured citation is one that contains specific information about your local business. Common examples of this include the name, address and phone information of your company. In the SEO world, this combination of data is referred to as “NAP”.

Ensuring that your NAP data is accurate and uniform across all platforms is critical to your local SEO ranking. This will have a direct impact on the experience of your customers. While unstructured citations provide some of the same information found in structured citations, they are not consistent across all platforms.

For example, imagine that your local business has two landing pages with two different contact numbers. In some cases, having more than one number may be a way for your business to track their leads and analyze where their marketing efforts should be focused. In terms of local SEO, the issue with having more than one contact number indexed is that it can negatively impact your local search listings. If a search engine is unable to understand the type of business or service your company provides, they are more likely to pull content from a competitor that has matching NAP data across all platforms.

Citations in Relation to Traditional SEO Methods

Optimizing your content in every way possible is the best way to ensure the success of your local SEO campaign. Although it may be tedious, be sure to invest the time it takes to build a healthy domain and a solid SEO foundation. Once this base has been established, citations will serve as an effective tool for driving results.

The volume of organic traffic to your website will directly correlate to where your business ranks in local search results. Your goal is to create and maintain an online presence that will support a competitive domain authority. Citations may be the factor that gives you a leg up over competitors with well-optimized sites that are lacking in citations. These citations are needed to help search engines determine the true value of the website.

The bottom line is that citations are the future of local SEO. As search engines become more advanced, their goal is to connect consumers across various platforms with meaningful information. Leveraging citations is a way for these machines to better understand your brand and its value to users.