What are Citations and Why Does My Business Need Them?

Perhaps you’ve heard of these things called “citations” but still aren’t quite sure what they’re all about. That’s understandable, especially if you’re still fairly new to SEO marketing. But it’s important for you to know just how powerful citations are as a marketing tool. So we decided to write this article.

First, A Definition: 

Citations are mentions of your business online, on local directories, or on business association sites. Among the most common directories are Google My Business, Bing Maps, Facebook, and Yelp, but the list really does go on and on. 

There are hundreds of sites where you can list your business, though not all of these sites may be relevant to your industry. And of course, some may cost money. But if you choose wisely, getting yourself into these directories can be a valuable part of your link building campaign. 

However, let’s take a step back for a moment. It’s important to note the type of information listed in citations, and just how critical it is for this information to be as accurate as possible.

What is a NAP and Why Do You Need One?

Citations are, in essence, references to your business’s Name, Address and Phone number. This is why it is also sometimes referred to as NAP data. At times, other information such as a link back to your company website may also be included. It’s critical to note that if Google sees any inconsistencies in your NAP data, your organic search results will be negatively affected. Even seemingly minor inconsistencies – Main St. versus Main Ave. – can make a big difference. That’s why you need to keep an eye on this data and make sure everything is accurate and consistent across the board.

You also need to remember that you aren’t the only source for NAP data. Information is coming in from multiple places, including government sources, data aggregators, search engines and users. And if you’ve created citations in the past, but some information has changed since then such as locations, phone numbers, store hours or other vital information, you’ll need to either update your citations or remove the old listings to replace them with new ones so your NAP data is up-to-date.

Good, Good, Good…Good Citations

When it comes to your SEO marketing efforts, having good citations can make a big difference. As already mentioned, when all of your NAP data is consistent and up-to-date, Google will pick up on it and you have a much better chance of ranking higher in organic search results.

On top of that, you can be more confident your customers will have the information they need to make accurate and informed decisions. They need correct info so they can find you, get in touch and do business with you. After all, if they can’t get the right phone number to call you with a simple Google search, it’s much less likely they’re going to do a deep Google dive for it. If they get the wrong address and drive to a bad part of town end up at a scary, deserted warehouse, they aren’t going to blame Google – they’re going to blame you! 

Ladies & Gentlemen, Check Your Search Engines

One of the first things you can do to make sure your online business information is correct and consistent is to search for what information is already out there. Unless you’re a start-up (in which case other SEO marketing tactics are needed) it’s likely you have a digital footprint. Start by searching for:

  • What that information is 
  • Whether it’s accurate
  • Where it is located

Once you claim that information, you can begin to get rid of inaccuracies and work on ways to get the right info listed on the appropriate channels. 

Listing Distribution Services, Help!

Overall, the process may seem overwhelmingly complex, but it doesn’t have to be. These are the most important things to remember: 

  1. Make sure all of your information is initially accurate 
  2. Keep an eye out for any errors that may have slipped through the cracks
  3. Check periodically in case some of your information needs updating

Sound like a lot of work? It is! That’s why there are listing distribution experts to help ensure your correct NAP is made widely available. Not only does this mean your listings on your business vertical’s associations and directories like Yelp and many, many others are giving out accurate information, but they can also help boost your organic search results quickly and efficiently. 

If you have any questions about citations, or you would like our SEO marketing team to help in your link building strategy, contact us. One of our talented digital marketing specialists would love to discuss your need for the perfect NAP! 

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