Last updated: August 7, 2017
Introduction to Business Citations for SEO
In today’s world, if you are planning on doing any kind of business via the web, you will want to explore the subject of business citations. For most local businesses and entrepreneurs this subject is completely off the radar and also one that can cause them a lot of headaches and confusion. Not paying attention to your business citations will hurt your business’s visibility in the search engines, while finding, obtaining, and fixing them will move your business up in the rankings.
What Is a Business Citation
Quite simply stated, a business citation is a mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP), often times with a link taking users to your business website. These links are located in very specific databases on the Web and there are thousands of business citation databases out there, some being more important than others. If the information contained within those databases does not correspond with your current contact information, you will, in all likelihood, be penalized for it in the search engine rankings. An example of a business citation website is FourSquare.
Why Are Business Citations for SEO So Important?
There are two main reasons citations are such a critical issue when it comes to local SEO. First and foremost, you as a business owner do not want old, outdated contact information to be coming up when potential customers search for you, for very obvious reasons. If someone goes to Google and types in “Northern Colorado SEO,” I do not want them to find my old address where my office was located over a year ago. That just looks bad. So it’s really a matter of competency and credibility. Would you want to be a customer of a business that cannot keep their old contact information from popping up when you are looking for them on the Web? I know I wouldn’t. This is an issue of user experience and branding, as well as simply having your potential customers have the ability to contact you effectively.
The second reason that business citations are so important has to do with the search engines. If you want to be found when a user types in the keyword phrases that you are attempting to rank for in the search engines, you need to have your citations in order and you need to have a good number of them. Strictly speaking, the more quality citations you have, the better you are going to do in the search engine rankings. Google and Bing have intentionally made this part of their current ranking algorithms. But why?
The Logic Behind Quality Business Citations
If you have been following me for any length of time you know that I am a very staunch advocate of quality content. The reason for the production of quality content is very simple: it is what the search engines want, and by giving the search engines what they want, you are going to rank higher.
But what does quality content have to do with business citations? Google and Bing have noticed that businesses with a high quantity of quality, accurate business citations are much more likely to deliver the user with what he or she is searching for. This is the search engines’ ultimate end goal and as a result, they have worked it into their ranking algorithms. When searchers find what they are looking for when they run a search on Google, they are much more likely to return to Google the next time they need information on a particular subject. This is basic human nature and Google understands this concept. Remember, we are working with the end in mind, which means giving the search engines what they want. And what the search engines want is for users to find what they are looking for, which is quality content. Do the search engines want their users to be served information on local businesses that is inaccurate and out of date? No way! That reflects poorly on their individual brands and delivers a poor user experience for the searcher. As a result, they are going to do everything in their power to prevent businesses with multiple phone numbers and addresses (assuming they have only one location) from showing up in the SERPs.
How Do I Find My Current Business Citations
The first thing I recommend people do, and what I do for my own clients, is run a business citation audit. You can have this done for only $7.00 at Loganix.net. This is an unbelievable good deal and will give you a starting point for getting your business citations in order. Keep in mind I have no affiliation with Loganix, but I certainly can spot a good deal when I find one!
Loganix uses Google Sheets as a means of distributing the data they collect about your current business citations audit, so they are super-accessible. They list your current NAP (name, address, phone) Variations, an aggregator check, a list of your current business citations that are correct, as well as a list of current business citations that are incorrect. Best of all, every one of the citations they list, both correct and incorrect, have a corresponding URL that you can click on to inspect them on the Web. And all for only $7.00. Pretty cool.
Getting all of your citations to correspond with your current contact information is a task that will not be achieved overnight, but it is one that will most certainly pay dividends for your business. Remember, this is a SEO technique that not many people even know about, let alone understand. So your diligence in the area of obtaining and correcting your quality business citations could very well be a hero’s journey that sets your business apart from the competition, moves you up in the search engine rankings, and propels your business to the next level.
The first objection I hear from business owners when talking to them about their current business citations is that they do not have enough time to take on this task. My retort is that they need to make the time, and if they cannot do that then hire someone to do it for you. The bottom line is this: taking on a SEO campaign is a fools journey without first paying attention to the fundamental components of a business’s web presence. Business citations are most certainly a fundamental component of your web presence, albeit one that you were probably not even aware of. The level of attention, diligence, and perseverence that you put toward this task will depend on your individual circumstances. For some businesses, especially local ones, it is more important than others, but I have yet to see a company that cannot benefit from attention to this task.