What is a Local Citation?
A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms. Citations help Internet users to discover local businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings. Local businesses can actively manage many citations to ensure data accuracy.
What are the types of local citations?
Major Local Business Data Platforms– Local business owners and marketers can create citations on a variety of important local business data platforms which exist to publish this type of data. Core platforms include Google My Business, Acxiom, Localeze/Neustar, and Infogroup. Key local business listings can also be built on popular social and review-oriented sites like Facebook and Yelp.
Geo/Industry-Specific Platforms– In addition to building local business listings on the major local business data platforms that serve all industries, your company can seek to build listings on websites that are specific to its unique industry and geography. Examples of these platforms would include chamber of commerce websites or the websites of professional associations and guilds.
The Wider Web– Supplementary citations can either be built or earned on a wide variety of publications, including blogs, news sites, apps, maps, government databases, and more. You can either intentionally develop these citations for your business, or simply earn them based on merit and public interest/sharing of information.
All of the above types of citations can be developed via the use of automated software (like Moz Local), by filling out forms directly on local business platforms manually, or via other methods of PR/marketing to various platforms.
Finally, citations and local business listings frequently appear without any action being taken by the business. Citations can result from automated aggregation and the flow of data from local business data platforms. For example, data on a site like Infogroup can flow down to another site like Superpages. This reality of how the web works makes it especially important for local businesses to take control of the accuracy of their data, so that inaccurate data is discovered and corrected, preventing customer loss, revenue loss, and any negative impact on local search rankings.
What are the components of a local citation?
The core components of a citation are a company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) and can also include a reference or link to a designated page of the company’s website. In addition to this, a citation may incorporate some or all of the following elements:
- Business categories
- Hours of operation
- Driving directions
- Business description
- Payment forms accepted
- Owner responses
- Links to social and other forms of media
- Email addresses
- Fax numbers
- Alternate phone numbers
To fully prepare for filling out the common fields of the citations you’ll be creating, please read: The Core Components Of Local Business Listings
Why do local citations matter?
Local citations significantly influence two scenarios relating to local businesses:
- Local citations either positively or negatively impactlocal search engine rankings. The number of citations a business accrues, the accuracy of the data they feature, and the quality of the platforms they exist on all influence rankings. Search engines like Google amass data about each business. If what they encounter is accurate, the search engine trusts the validity of the data, which is believed to strengthen the business’ chance of ranking well. However, if the data search engines encounter is inconsistent, this trust is eroded, lessening ranking opportunities.
- Local citations either positively or negatively impact consumers.Accurate citations help people discover a local business, which can result in web, phone, and foot traffic, culminating in transactions. Inaccurate citations, however, can misdirect customers, leading to loss of reputation and revenue.
Businesses at every level of local commerce — from one-person startups to major brands — are deeply concerned about rankings, reputation, and revenue. Local citations are vital, given that they factor into all three of these areas.
Learn more about their importance in this blog post: Reputation, Rankings, and Revenue: Navigating Local for Non-Technical People.
How does active location data management relate to citations?
Any local business developing its marketing strategy must understand the risk/benefit scenario of a passive vs. an active approach to citation management.
Passive approach risks:
Neglecting citation development and management risks the following damage to rankings, reputation, and revenue:
- A small/weak set of local citations
- Inaccurate citations
- Duplicate local business listings
- No awareness of user or competitor edits to local business listings
- No strategy for discovering inaccurate data
- No strategy for managing citations in the event of mergers/acquisitions, rebranding, business moves, changes of phone numbers, hours of operation, or other data
- No strategy for discovering and managing reviews
- Little control over how the business is being represented across the web
Active approach benefits:
Actively managing citations can positively impact rankings, reputation, and revenue via:
- A robust, accurate citation set on major platforms
- Awareness, discovery, and correction of inaccurate data
- Permanent closure of duplicate local business listings
- A solid strategy for editing citation data in the event of mergers/acquisitions, rebranding, business moves, changes of phone numbers, hours of operation, or other data
- A solid strategy for discovering and managing reviews
- Maximum control over how the business is being represented across the web
Weighing these risks/benefits, you’ll soon determine that active citation management can be neglected. It simply isn’t good business.
Citations in summary
Citations are publications of your core business data on the Internet. They influence consumer discovery and local search engine rankings. Accurate citations positively impact rankings, reputation, and revenue, whereas inaccurate citations detract from these assets. Due to the high stakes of these assets, active location data management is a necessity for all local businesses, and you can choose from manual, semi-automated, and automated solutions for your business. You must fully research each potential option or service you consider to discover whether your investment of resources will result in meaningful value.