There has been some debate on whether or not citations are still important for local SEO. Let me say this, as an agency we have tested this and I can assure you that citations are still important. The catch of this is that while in the past a large number of citations could get you some rankings, now it is more about the quality of the citation, rather than just the numbers alone.
What is a Citation for Local SEO
So for the sake of making sure we are all on the same page, I want to make sure that anyone reading this understands what a citation actually is. At its most basic level, a citation is just a listing on a directory website, that generally includes the name, address, phone number and hopefully a link to your website. Some of the most well-known citations websites are yelp, Google My Business, Facebook business, and YP. Now that we know what a citation is, let’s talk about how to build them and maintain them.
How Many Citations Should I Have?
The answer is, it depends. Depending on how competitive local SEO is for your particular business niche it may only take a few to get results. If you are in a fairly competitive niche, it may take a lot more than that to move the needle, but again not all citations are created equally. For instance, a high authority website like Yelp will have much more powerful citations than a website that has low authority. If you are curious about what citations might be best for your specific industry Bright Local has compiled a great list to reference. Based on what we have tested and also on some reading as well, those in top ranking positions have 80-100 of the top high authority citations. So if you are aiming for a number, make it 100!
How Do I Know How Many Citations I Have?
Luckily this is the easy part. There is no shortage of tools out there that can tell you how many citations you have. One of the ones we use as an agency is White Spark also we use Bright Local for this purpose. These are, however, paid tools, but if you are trying to get results with Local SEO it is worth paying for them or of course, any reputable SEO agency will have these tools in use as part of any project they are working on. Cough cough Local Blitz 🙂
How Do I Build Citations?
Well, there are a variety of different ways to build citations. If you own a business you have already likely built some and didn’t even know it. Do you have a Yelp business profile? Well congratulations, you have built a citation! The most common way to build citations for a DIY type is to go and set up accounts manually at a variety of different citation websites and then track them via some sort of spreadsheet.
Don’t have the time for that? No problem! Any Local SEO agency that you may hire will almost certainly include citation building within the deliverables that they offer to you to get you Local SEO results. If they don’t...run! Alternatively, if you are only looking to build citations, there are a number of services out there that you can pay to do just this single task.
I should note that while building citations, NAP consistency is a MUST! NAP, simply stands for name, address, phone number consistency. This could be an entire article on it’s own, but you will want to be certain that when building citations that NAP is consistent across all citations associated with your business. If NAP consistency is not there, your efforts could actually have a negative effect rather than a positive one.
While there are a ton of different considerations to get results with Local SEO, citations still seem to play a crucial role in getting results. Whether you build them on your own or whether you outsource the task, make sure that you have it in your project plan to build high authority citations and you will be on the right track for certain!