SEO, or search engine optimization, is a key marketing strategy for any business looking to maximize their online presence and visibility. There are dozens of SEO tools and techniques out there to help you improve your rankings in the search engine results pages. One such technique is listing your business on citation sites, also known as directory sites.
But what is a citation site and what role does it actually play in SEO? In this article we’ll answer those questions, as well as explain how you can optimize citations to give your SEO the best possible boost.
What Are Citations In SEO?
Citations are references to a business that appear online. They contain information about the business such as the business’ name, phone number, address, website, and other additional information.
Examples Of Citation Websites
There are numerous citation websites you can claim your business on. You’ll find general citation websites, as well as ones that are niche and geographically relevant. A few examples of some of the most common citation websites include:
- Google Business Profile
- Yahoo Local
- Hot Frog
- Social Media Sites
Why Citations Are Important For SEO
Claiming citation sites is actually one of the most neglected SEO strategies that can help a business rank above its competition in the search engines. Let’s look at a few of the ways citations have a direct impact on search engine optimization.
Listing your business on reputable citation sites generates higher visibility in the search engines. By claiming your business on these sites, it strengthens your digital presence and improves the chances of potential customers locating your business when searching online. Search engines also take these citation listings into consideration when choosing which websites to show when consumers are searching.
Creates Valuable Backlinks
Building a strong backlink profile is essential to enhancing your SEO, and listing your business on citation sites is one way to achieve this. The more reputable the site, the higher the value of the backlink to your business.
While you should still aim to build additional backlinks, apart from just directory sites, that point back to your website— citations are a really great starting point and a solid foundation.
Search engines, like Google, only want to show their users trustworthy and credible businesses. So claiming your business on citation websites is vital to building this trust and credibility. The more that a search engine trusts your business, the more likely it is to show it to consumers who are searching for relevant information. Citations also help establish local relevance in your industry to consumers and search engines alike, providing an additional layer of trust.
How To Optimize Citations For SEO
There are a few different ways you can optimize your business citations so that you get the most out of them.
Choose The Right Citations
When listing your business on citation websites, selecting the right ones is important. For maximum benefit, claim your business on sites that are relevant to your industry and that are also geographically relevant to the area you service. For one, this builds a strong signal to the search engines of what industry and area you serve, so it will better know what consumers to show your business to.
Additionally, these citation sites allow you to take advantage of organic traffic from potential customers who are searching for related products or services on local directories.
The More Citations, The Better
While any citation is beneficial to your business, the more citations you are able to claim, the better. Multiple citations with consistent information demonstrates that you are a credible business. Each citation gives another boost to your authority. So the more listings you have, the more of a boost it will give to your SEO.
Have Accurate And Consistent NAP Information
Having consistent and accurate NAP (name, address, phone number) information for citation listings is important for optimizing your SEO. NAP information assists search engines in verifying your business’s identity and location, which allows them to provide relevant results to users. Any inconsistencies may have a negative effect on your local rankings, as well as create confusion for potential customers.
This is why it’s good practice to regularly review all of the sites your business is listed on, in order to keep the information up-to-date. Maybe you’ve had an address change, or maybe you’ve used a variety of tracking phone numbers. When you update these details, make sure to do it across all your listings. It can be helpful to keep a record of all the citation websites your business has claimed, to make sure that none get missed.
Fill In All The Citation Information Completely
Name, address, and phone number are not the only details that need to be filled in on a citation listing. Most citation websites offer a range of additional details that you can add. These often include:
- Website URL
- Hours Of Operation
- An “About Us” Snippet
- Business Category
- List Of Products Or Services
- Links To Your Social Media Profiles
- Photos / Videos
For the best SEO boost, fill out your citation listings completely. Add all the details that are offered. And to touch back on our previous point about accurate and consistent information— that also applies to every detail that you have listed from your hours of operation, to your “about us”, to your products and services.
Remove Duplicate Listings
A duplicate listing is when your business has been claimed more than once on the same citation website. Maybe you had someone else claim listings for you in the past, so you weren’t aware that your business was already on the site. Or maybe you simply forgot that you claimed a specific directory site. In any case, if you find that you have a duplicate listing, it’s important to remove one. Having more than one listing on the same site can confuse both potential customers and the search engines.
Looking For A Citation Building Service?
While you can take the approach of building your own citations, you may quickly find that it’s a time consuming process. This is why many businesses choose to outsource this task. However, when outsourcing it’s important to be careful who you work with. The types of claiming services you should avoid are the ones that offer to claim “350 sites for $75” and the like. The problem with these services is they claim the same sites for every business, regardless of industry and location. They also do not focus on directories with a high domain authority. This is not an effective strategy.
If you’re looking for a trusted claiming service, we hope you will consider us here at The Alchemy Consulting Group. The first step in our process is performing an analysis of citation sites claimed by the top ten business listings in your industry on Google. This will provide us with a baseline for what needs to be done in order to make your business prominent in the search engines.
Generally we claim 50 to 100 high authority citation sites. We claim sites that are both niche relevant as well as geographically relevant. We will also claim 3 aggregator sites for your business. An aggregator site is one that collects data from other sites across the web. Aggregators are ‘data clearinghouses’ for businesses, much like the three credit reporting agencies collate and hold credit data on individuals.
These sites hold high importance as they are the “reference sites” used by hundreds of other directories. Aggregator sites are also paid listings that require an annual renewal, but they’re worth the small investment.
To learn more about this service and how we can help you improve your online presence, contact us by calling 877-978-2110 or schedule a call at the link below: