If you have a physical location such as a shop, office or hotel, citations should already form part of your SEO activity. They are an incredibly useful tool for attracting more traffic to your location and improving your local SEO rank. If you aren’t familiar with citations, read on to find out more and discover why you should start using them today as part of your search engine optimisation strategy.

What’s a citation?

It might sound like a techie term but the meaning behind citation is deceptively simple. It refers to any mention of your business name, address and website on a third party site. Citations which include your full physical address, zip code, phone number, website and business name are the most useful to search users and better for you from an SEO perspective.

Citations are found in a multitude of locations online. The obvious spots are directory listings and Google My Business, but they are also present on social media profiles, used on review sites such as TripAdvisor and can be included when your business is featured in a blog post or newspaper report.

Why do you need them?

Local citations perform a number of useful functions – many of which can assist with your local SEO efforts.

They encourage trust

Google, Bing and other search engines use local citations as a means of gathering information about your business and verifying its location and identity. They also give credibility, so the more citations you have, the more likely you are to appear trustworthy in the eyes of the search engine algorithms. Accuracy plays a role here too, which is why it’s important to submit full citations and be consistent with how you write the address and phone number.

They are a mobile ranking factor

With the advent of mobile browsing has come an increase in the volume of ‘near me’ searches. These searches typically take place when a search user has an immediate need for a particular service or product close to their physical location. When determining position for Google Maps listings, you’re more likely to appear above other businesses if you have more local citations than them, if all other factors are equal.

They can help you attract customers

Because local citations are effectively a business listing, they can be used to attract customers and visitors. A person on Yelp! Browsing for a plumber for example, can contact you using the citation information even if they haven’t been to your website. This is also true if you don’t have your own website – you can use local citations as a means of building awareness and visibility.