As a critical component of search engine optimization (SEO), local niche citations are an important part of any comprehensive marketing strategy.
This is especially true when you are trying to boost your local search and overall local online presence through profiles such as Google My Business.
But that’s where the local citations seo and search results questions also start to arise.
What are citations?
What is the process for building citations?
What is the difference between local structured citations and unstructured citations?
Why is building structured and unstructured citations important?
What are local niche citations?
How can they help your local search engine rankings?
What are the different ways to build them?
How do you optimize for citations for local seo?
And what points should you keep in mind while citation building and using them?
To help you answer these citation building questions, here’s an in-depth breakdown of what niche citations have to offer a local business.
By going through this information, you can also learn how these citations use essential tools such as Google My Business to boost their effectiveness.
What are Local Citations and How do They Help in Local Rankings
Local citations refer to the mention of your business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP) on any online platform.
While most NAP citations comprise these fields of information, some citations also contain additional information about the business.
Since search engines gather key information about businesses and locations from across the web, NAP citations can help them associate your brand with its relevant service areas.
By building your NAP citations on the right platforms, you can create a network of information that strengthens this association. As a result, your business can appear in local searches that are related to its brand name.
But when you build your citations the right way, they go beyond improving your hold on local keywords.
They can also help you improve your overall online presence, and allow you to appear in other search engine-associated platforms such as Google Maps.
Due to these features, citations are considered a critical part of holistic SEO campaigns.
The Different Types of Citations Sites & Aggregators
Given the popularity, effectiveness, and overall usage of structured citations, these listings can be built across various websites.
This typically includes the following types of platforms.
These web-based applications are used by businesses to disseminate their information across the web.
Unlike typical websites that mention your business citation on its own platform, aggregators distribute this data to other websites across the web.
This includes industry directories, local seo directories, dedicated platforms, and search platforms.
There are many types of aggregators available on the web. However, determining the credibility of an aggregator can be tricky.
This is why it's important to use these platforms under professional guidance.
These citations are typical NAP mentions of your business, which are created on general platforms and directories.
Regular citations are used by almost every business that wants to establish and improve its brand presence. With this in mind, they are also simply referred to as general business citations.
Regular citation platforms include but are not limited to social media websites such as Facebook and business review portal sites like Yelp.
Whenever you create your business’ profile on these portals and include its contact details, it acts as a general business citation for the search engine.
This is where you start getting more specific with your local citation strategy.
Niche citations are built on platforms that are highly specific to your industry. For instance, if you run a restaurant, your profile on Eater or Grubhub can be considered a niche citation.
Niche citations help search engines associate your business to specific industries.
If you use high authority websites to build your citations, it can also enhance your overall online presence.
Niche citation platforms completely depend upon your industry, which is why their availability can be widespread or scarce.
It is important you conduct thorough research or reach out to a professional who can help you find the platforms for your niche citations.
Local citations are created on platforms that are specific to your area of operation. For instance, if you only provide your services within a select region, any NAP mention of your business on local publications or websites acts as a citation.
But local listing citations also go beyond regional websites. Creating your business’ profile on platforms such as Google Maps or Bing Maps is also considered a local citation.
Some local citation platforms can also vary upon your service area. However, websites such as Google Maps are available universally.
Local citations are one of the best ways to boost your local search engine rankings.
To enhance your business’ presence to specific cities, areas, or even neighborhoods, you can benefit from hyper-local listing citations.
As their name suggests, these citations are highly specific to your target location and can often use details other than your simple NAP mention.
For instance, they can use your Maps location or your nearest landmarks to create more relevance to your business’ mention on their platform.
Creating hyper-local listings can be a complex task due to the limited availability of platforms. However, an in-depth search or professional advice can help you find effective resources to build these citations.
How to Structure the Citation for Your Business
As mentioned above, there are multiple ways to structure and build citations for your business.
The most effective methods include the following components.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
The NAP is the most common citation structure. But it is popular for a reason. The simple combination of your name, address, and phone number can do wonders in enhancing your online presence and help search engines associate your business to its target area.
NAP citations are most often built on platforms that do not support additional information but are still highly helpful in supporting your business’ online visibility.
NAPW (Name, Address, Phone Number, Website)
This is yet another common way to structure your listings for seo purposes. With the addition of your website link, this type of local citation building aspect also acts as a relevant and often high-quality backlink.
This supports the overall network of high-quality links you build for your website over time.
NAPW citations can be easily sourced through some of the most popular websites such as Facebook and Yelp.
By getting these citations from credible platforms, you can improve your list of citations as well as your overall SEO.
NAPWM (Name, Address, Phone Number, Website, Map)
This acronym can be tricky to say in everyday conversations, but these citations are highly effective in enhancing your online presence.
By adding a Map pin to your site, which is often taken from Google Maps, you can nudge your target audience to learn more about your business’ location and its overall operation.
In addition to this, it also provides additional exposure to your Google My Business or Maps profile for the search engine bots, which can effectively improve your local rankings.
Accuracy and Optimizations of Your Citation
When trying to build local listing citations, it’s critical to ensure they maintain uniformity throughout the listing.
For instance, your business’ name, address, and phone number should all be listed in an identical way across all platforms.
Similarly, the order of words, the accuracy of the information, and the details regarding landmarks should all be identical to each other.
This practice makes sure all of your citations are indexed and associated properly by the search engine bots.
By coming across the same information on multiple platforms, search engines provide more credibility to the presented data.
This also helps your local rankings and ensures you can appear in higher positions against your target keywords.
To ensure the accuracy of your citation and optimize its data, refrain from typing out your business’ name, address, phone number, and other details from scratch.
Instead, whenever you are submitting data for your citation, make sure to copy it directly from your Google My Business profile and paste it onto the respective website’s submission fields.
This helps you steer clear of typos and establishes razor-sharp accuracy throughout all citations.
How to Build Citations Correctly
In order to get the most out of citations, you need to create them with the right process flow in mind.
Apart from ensuring the precision of your information, this also includes a few more factors that relate to your overall branding and online presence.
Have a Business Email Address
Having your own domain’s email address for citations provides you with more credibility and also establishes your brand.
Maintain Consistency with Google My Business
Your Google Maps or Google My Business profile is the ultimate citation. With this in mind, make sure your NAP strictly follows your Google My Business profile.
Select the Right Categories on Relevant Platforms
Some websites ask you to select categories for your citations before you can submit them.
Choose the best categories for your business and keep them consistent throughout other platforms.
If you can’t find the same selection on different websites, choose the next best option.
For instance, if your business deals in fitness equipment, you can select “Fitness” as a category. If this option is not available on a platform, you can choose “Health & Fitness” or “Health” as a substitute.
The goal is to stay as consistent as possible.
Don’t Shy Away From Details
Some business citation platforms only allow you to add NAP details, while others let you include additional information.
When given the opportunity, add everything you can to the citations. From images to logos, and from business description to target keywords, don’t shy away from mentioning details that relate to your business.
For optimal benefits, make sure to add links to your social accounts and off-site blogs. You can also add your operating hours into the mix.
If the citation platform allows you to enter a Map pin, you can add a Google Map reference with directions to your business or a Google My Maps mention.
Name It, Claim It
Some business citation platforms such as your Google My Business listing would ask you to claim your created citations. Whenever this option is provided, make sure to take it without wasting a second.
Apart from adding more credibility to your citation, this may also give you the option to edit your citation later on. This ensures you can keep your business listing up to date and add more information whenever you need to do so.
These kinds of privileges also come in handy when your business moves to a new location and you need to update its location over the web.
Ways to Find Citation Sources That Will Make a Difference
Now that you know how to build citation sources and what steps you should take while building them, it’s time to find sources or platforms where you can put this knowledge to the test.
While one of the best ways to know about these sources is to reach out to an SEO professional, you can also take this task upon your own shoulders.
By following the methods outlined below, you can find citation platforms that fit your specific needs.
Use Advice Platforms to Find Citations
In order to find up to date citation platforms that also pass the credibility check by more than a handful of website owners, check out industry-specific platforms that give you a list of citation sources.
For instance, heading to Bright Local, Whitespark or other citation building services can give you a quick rundown of all credible citation platforms that operate in your industry.
This ensures you have a handy list of websites to refer to for your local seo without having to do multiple searches over the web.
Look for Niche and Local Citations
Apart from heading to popular directory websites, you can also search for niche and local listings in your area.
Doing a quick search of popular businesses in your city can help you find platforms where their citations are created. You can then head straight to these websites and see if you can create your own listings there.
Find Competitor Citations
By using the method above, you can also find your competitor citations and see exactly what they are doing in terms of boosting their online presence.
Simply Google your competition’s name and go through the results presented to you.
Make a note of all citation platforms and check to see their credibility and popularity over the web.
From there, you can decide whether or not the platform can help you create your own citations.
Find Citations With Search
Taking the search method a step further, simply start making Google searches to find citation platforms that are specific to your industry.
Searches to find city-specific citation sources:
“city” business listings
“city” business directory
Searches to find industry/niche specific citation sources:
“keyword” business listings
“keyword” business directory
Connecting Your Google My Business Profile to Your Website & Optimizations
Optimize Your Info Section with as Many Categories You Can Find (more than one is always good)
Connecting your Google My Business Profile to Your Website & Optimizations matters a great deal when building a strong search engine optimization foundation for your business.
Make Sure Hours of Operation are Accurate
Ensuring accuracy in your hours of operation creates a pleasant experience for your customers and can increase the retention of long term clients for your business.
Remember accurate hours of operation also attract a larger audience in an indirect way.
Google continues to crawl the web and find information about different companies. If the company maintains consistent information across the web, it regards information as relevant and will update its search engine accordingly.
Make Sure Your Business Description Has a Minimum of 2 Main Target Keywords
Every business must make certain to hone in on their specific value to the world and optimize for those target keywords in their business description.
The reason why this is highly important is it lets businesses potential customers know they are highly relevant matches for those specific services or products.
Add Your Website and Contact Page
Inputting your website and contact page seems like it may not add as much value.
The opposite is true.
Your website and contact page let potential customers quickly browse for their required information and interact with you.
This information also helps search engines optimize for relevant businesses.
Complete The Profile as Much as You Can
Remember to add as much information about your business as possible so you continue to stay relevant to potential customers and search engine algorithms.
Add Services/Products to That Section
Every single business profile should add services and products to the relevant section to make sure they indicate what they do and how they can help potential customers.
Activate Your Business Website
Your business website must be live and active to continue to be relevant to the search engines. As the search engine crawlers update internally, you tend to see visibility improvements over time.
Write Posts With Your Location and Keywords Minimum Once a Week, With a Link Back to a Relevant Page on Your Website
Writing posts is one of the most critical components of staying fresh and relevant to search engines.
Regular posts on a weekly basis let the search engine know your website seeks to engage with the audience based on specific keywords.
The higher the quality of this information and the more specific it is for your end consumers, the more value it has to the search engines.
Add Geo-Tagged Images to Their Proper Sections in The Image Section
Geotagged images focus on proximity and location. These geo-tagged images ensure content-rich and diverse information emissions from your website.
A wide variety of content helps to signal further relevance and boosts the status of the business to search engines.
Local Optimization on Your Website
NAP & Map in The Sitewide Footer of Your Website
Your name, address, and profile should be clearly visible and easily consumable in the sitewide footer of your local business website.
This makes sense from a user experience standpoint as they can quickly browse through your local business site and reach out to you if they desire.
Adding a map to the sitewide footer of your local business website is helpful to users as they can pinpoint exactly where you are in a specific location. Further, it helps with local seo because it lets search engines realize that you're being as helpful as possible by providing adequate information.
Maps Should be a Directional Map, From The Center of Your City to Your Business Location
A directional map improves the user experience of your local business site by making it as simple as possible to find you and visit your business.
The map serves as context-based information that helps the potential customer picture exactly where you are from a relational standpoint. Whether they are finding you through Apple Maps or another map program
Conclusion & Summary
It is essential to keep your local business citations up to date because inaccurate information penalizes your local search engine optimization and overall rankings.
Businesses who continue to inform their customers of highly relevant information such as location changes, timing changes and other necessary information sends a positive signal to search engines everywhere.
Inconsistent information causes confusion and is unhelpful to people who might want to try your products and services.
Search engines seek to create pleasant experiences overall and will remain robust by promoting reliable companies.
Businesses who focus on being reliable, customer-centric, and information-oriented with proper citations tend to gain more visibility as search engines.
NAP citation difficulty will differ for small and large scale entities but is certainly worth it.
Be Customer-Centric with NAP Citations
Incorrect or inaccurate information confuses consumers.
Research proves more than 50% of consumers tend to avoid businesses that present different sets of information across the web.
Inaccurate information leads to negative experiences which can have significant ramifications for the search engine and the business.
These seemingly minor issues such as a wrong number or slight mismatch in the address can create substantial distrust.
Customers may think these results are due to negligence by the business and can lead them to take their business elsewhere. Consistent information across the web will do wonders for you local seo campaign.
Building Citations for Your Business
You can build NAP citations for your business by understanding the relevant platforms and inputting your information in a thorough and precise manner on each platform.
It seems like a simple task but will necessitate substantial research time, precision, and dedication. The niche listings will require manual citation, automated citation, and data aggregator submissions.
The process is about external information such as these aggregators and submission areas but also internal data like your website data and overall formatting.
The actions will vary by industry and will require an in-depth approach for a short period of time.
Professional Local SEO Oriented Agencies Can Help
Professional digital agencies realize niche citations play a significant role in the overall search engine optimization process for a host of businesses across the world today. From optimizing your site for Apple maps to presenting a business listing in business directories, the right agency is there to help.
That’s why they built up the expertise, knowledge, and resources to help businesses get up to date with their citations and their local SEO process.
From dealing with local search in aspects such as single-location companies to those that have many storefronts across a specific region, these professionals can help with it all.
They can tap into their citations building experience, analyze your situation, take a look at what must take place, then execute these actions with speed and accuracy.
Keep in mind accurate information and use of the right local citations for SEO service can help make your business get repeated interactions from your potential audience. Inaccurate information can take you into the visibility abyss.
Improve your information dissemination, business listings, and visibility today with help from the right professionals.