What Are Online Citations?

Being cited across the internet with business listings is something that you naturally build up over time. Many links are created for you by platforms, or data is often imported into multiple platforms when you have only filled in details on one of them. 

It's important to be cited online, but more important to be cited correctly

Online Citations
noun

A citation is any online mention of the name, address and phone number for a business. Citations can occur on local business directories, websites and apps, and on social platforms. Citations help internet users to discover businesses and can impact rankings. (moz.com)

How Do They Affect SEO?

Search engines like Google want to rank businesses based on their legitimacy for any given search. Who would you trust, a business which no one has ever heard of or a business that 10 friends have recommended? 

Think of the websites with information listings about businesses as Googles friends, by making sure your companies information is on these sites and accurate you're helping Google to see you as the kind of business they should be telling their searchers about. 

Do you trust all of your friends equally? Probably not, neither does Google. In most cases, you can use your gut to tell you which sites will be more reliable as a source of information based on the familiarity of the brand and the standard of the information the website holds. 

Would you take a business more seriously the more friends that had recommended you to it? Google gives more credibility to your business the more accurate citations it finds. 

We All Love A Nap... But What's NAP?

I know we keep banging on about the listings being correct and accurate - this is important as information that doesn't match can actually harm your rankings.

Often referred to as the NAP (name, address, phone number) information, the key is to make sure that all of your online listings are singing from the same hymn sheet. We're talking the exact same details for your company, no matter which site your data is on. Having a different company name, different spellings, two addresses or different phone numbers will not instil confidence in your business to Google. 

It's a good idea to have a document with all your information open so you can simply copy and paste the correct details into each site if you're working manually. Many sites also offer the space for a company description, it's quicker and easier to have this typed up and copy and paste it where relevant. 

Where Can I Get Local Citations?

Major Platforms

This one's easy, we're talking Google My Business, Yell.com, Cylex etc. These are big, trusted platforms that you should have a presence on. This also includes all the social platforms - Facebook, Twitter etc - you'd be surprised how many businesses don't have their information entered correctly on Facebook.

Industry Specific

If you are a wedding venue there are plenty of websites which list wedding venues - that's just for you and perfect to list on. Especially if those websites are well made and regularly updated. Top trick - google a load of your keywords and listing sites for those services should crop up somewhere on the SERP (search engine results page). 

Love Local

This is really important for local SEO rankings (ranking for people who are physically near your business address). Does your local newspaper have any business listings? If there a local tourism website you should be on? Radio stations occasionally dabble in business listings too.

Blogs and News Sites

Some blogs contain business listings, the best way to find these is competitor research, find out where your closest rivals have listings and try and get your business listed there too. Larger news websites (other than local) sometimes have business listings and news items which cover specific businesses, these are also best found by eyeing up the competition. 

How Do I Find My Citations and Update them?

Back in the day companies with an online presence and the time for marketing used to keep a spreadsheet of all the locations they had business information like opening hours, so that should information change (especially for seasonal businesses) they would have up to date information about things which were important to their customers. 

If you don't have the magical spreadsheet of dreams available then you can Google your business name and see what comes up, then your address (in case somewhere your business is listed under another name). 

If you have a number of businesses or no time for the manual entry of all your data there's another way. Here at Sonder, we subscribe to tools called Bright Local and SEMrush to identify citations for clients as part of our SEO services. Once you've signed up you can see the citations, whether the data is correct and make amends through the tool. There are several tools available including a great one from Moz. Many local newspapers also offer a similar service.  

Sound Like Too Much NAP and not enough Naps?

Citations are a piece for the SEO puzzle, if you're a small business with a little time on your hands, here's a list of over 50 generic sites where you can list your business manually for free. The niche ones are harder to find, but they're also going to be a better boost for your site as they are more relevant to your business. 

Not only should you keep your business listings up to date for your SEO, but also for your customers. There's a number of places people can discover key facts about your company and it's pretty important to make sure that data is correct. 

If you're struggling with sorting out your online citations for your business then get in touch. We've got the tools to make sure it's done right, with enough listings using the correct data we can boost your SEO.

Ask us about our SEO packages - online citations are including in the overall SEO of your website when you work with Sonder. 

Posted by Becky Cockman on June 15th 2020

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