A Google Map citation is actually just a mention of your business name (and optionally it’s address and phone number) on another website. For example, an example of a citation could be a business directory such as Yelp, Foursquare orYahoo Local where your company is mentioned by name. Local citations don’t need to include a link to your website.
It’s super important to have the same phone number, address and business name consistently in all business directories and citations (i.e. mentions of your name, address and phone number) as that helps your map listing rank higher in local map searches.
Citations are used to help rank your Google+ Local map listing by supplying Google with reputable sources of information about your business so Google can validate that your business exists, is legitimate and that what you have said about your business is accurate by corroborating information about your business from multiple sources.
How it works
When Google finds information about your company on other websites and directories it allows it to be more confident about the information that you have provided about your business, and this is turn ensures Google are more likely to display your business listing when a person performs a search for the types of products or services you provide.
In order for you to take advantage of local citations it’s critical that you set up a , claim your business and optimise it by getting your business name and details added to directories and other web pages.
Here’s a (non-exhaustive!) list of citation types:
- Business directories ( , etc) ,
- Industry, niche or sector specific directories ( ) ,
- Local newspaper and press websites
- Local themed blogs – For example would be great for local night life (bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants or venues)
- Prominent local websites (particularly if they’re related to your business niche)
- Social Profiles ( , , ) ,
How to beat competitors with Citations
To beat competitors at citations you essentially need more high quality citations than your competitor. Whilst total numbers are important, it's also crucial to bear in mind that the quality of the directory on which the citation is hosted is high and that the accuracy of the information that you enter is also paramount. The more complete your general and niche citations are, then the more value they will create towards ranking your Google+ Local listing and improving your visibility and presence within the Google maps products overall.
Whilst business listing citations are relatively easy to obtain, the more difficult ones come from local or niche websites or local newspapers. You’ve obviously got to have something newsworthy for them to talk about and you have to get their attention in the first place.
How to make a great local citation
A great local citation needs to be seen as credible and trustworthy by both people and Google. This is why established brands such as the Yellow Pages (Yell) or Thompson Local are great places to start as well as their primary purpose being to provide other people with a list of local businesses.
It’s important that when creating or claiming a business directory style citation that you also fill out 3 pieces of crucial information.
- Company name (This should ideally be your branded trading name)
- A local telephone number with a local area code
- The physical address of your business
These 3 pieces of information must also be consistency present on your website as selectable HTML text and not a graphic. If a local newspaper is covering a story regarding your business they are unlikely to ever display your company address or telephone number, in these instances it is enough to simply have your company clearly referenced by name in order for your listing to receive the value.
The information above really only applies to correctly creating and filling out both the general and industry specific directories.
The process of creating local citations can be both time consuming and tedious to do, and you ideally need to have an overall marketing strategy in place in order to get the attention of press journalists and newspapers.However if you’re a local business that would hugely benefit from a local listing within the Google 7 pack then it’s something you want to get a handle on. Alternatively if you have the budget, you can outsource this work.
Remember Local SEO only helps to improve where your listing appears within the Google Maps Pack. (This is sometimes referred to as the 7 pack as this is the number of results Google will typically display, however there are other variations.)If your business operates in a particularly niche or obscure area that you cannot suitably describe using a broad or general category then there may not be any point in investing in a Local SEO campaign to get you appearing in the Google Map Pack.The maps are only triggered by specific keywords, and these keywords heavily favour local businesses or services.
For example: Estate Agents, Car Dealerships, Butchers, Cobblers, Car Garages, Driving Instructors and Schools.
It’s also important to understand that it is only specific phrases that trigger the maps to show in the results. If I perform a search for “Baker” the maps do not appear, however if I search for “Bakery” then the map listings are then displayed.
That's all on citations, if you have any questions for us just use the chat below to get in touch!