What Are Citations?
Citations are any time your business’ name, address, and phone number are mentioned on another website. It does not matter if the mention links back to your website or not. There are so many examples of citations, local and otherwise. Yellow pages directory listings that mention your business but do not link to it are one such example. Others might be area chamber of commerce web pages, or even local area business association web pages that include your business’ contact information.
Why Do Citations Matter?
These citations are critically important online for a main reason. While it is helpful to have people see your business’ contact information on an individual basis, this is small potatoes in the scheme of the Internet cosmos. The big fish in the pond are the ranking algorithms for Google, Yahoo, and Bing. All else being equal, any business that possesses a larger number of citations, particularly important and well-respected source citations, will rank higher on the search results than a business with a smaller number of such citations.
Most important of all with citations are garnering as many as possible from the well- indexed portals that are well-established, such as Superpages.com. These greatly improve the degree of certainty that the major search engines possess about the correctness of your business’ category and contact information. This matters even more in less competitive markets such as electrical and plumbing, since a great number of the service providing businesses do not maintain their own websites. These types of local citations and also link backs from such important and numerous websites would dramatically better your rankings in the local search engine results.
Where and How Can You Get More Local Citations?
Literally thousands of places offer opportunities to build up citations for your business’ name, phone number, address, and website. Among those that are most useful places to look for local citations are:
• Data Aggregators
• Local Blogs
• Local Search Engines
• Industry Oriented Directors and Blogs
• Locally Focused Directories
The four main aggregators for data on local businesses in the United States are Neustar Localeze, Infogroup, Factual, and Acxiom. Each has put together databases of more than twenty million businesses throughout the U.S. They get these indexes from business group rosters, traditional types of phone books, databases from business registration groups, and phone or bank records. This data is syndicated out to the main local search engines, and is generally updated by the major sites like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing within from two weeks on up to three months.
Your business should be able to get a good citation on local blogs. These sites prove to be extremely well-indexed by the major and local search engines. They are closely associated with individual cities, neighborhoods, and regions in the local results. If your business receives a link to, or even a mention on such blogs, then it is very relevant for the local search engine listings.
Local Search Engines
Local sites and search engines such as Yelp, Hotfrog, Foursquare, and the like are excellent sources for citations. They will be sure to validate your business’ name, website, and location of your business to the major search engines. This is why it is important that your business be serious about building up citations for as many of these high-quality local directories of businesses as you can.
Industry-focused Directories or Blogs
It is helpful to be listed in your trade organization’s member directory, or even on an industry blog where the industry’s readers go for information. Both will likely be crawled by local and major search engines looking for citations. You can search out “your industry directory” or “your keyword directory” to obtain some concept of the types of sites where you need to get a citation or a listing.
Locally Focused Directories
Much like local area blogs, the local directories are well-indexed and sought out by the major search engines. Look for the ones that are edited by a living, breathing person rather than the anything goes directories. The local search engines better regard the person-edited local directories than the others which are often full of spam. Among the best of the well-regarded local directories are Yahoo’s Regional Directory and the Best of the Web’s Regional Directory. To find other good places for important citations, look up “your state, directory” or “your city, directory.”