With the increasing importance of local search — and the growing use of mobile search — being found is one of the more important strategies for a local business.
Citations — or mentions — are a key component in the way search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing determine the ranking of your business. For small businesses, citations can work especially well because many local businesses do not optimize their sites to be found (it’s also called SEO). This is particularly true in service businesses such as plumbing or electrical, where the businesses do not have websites. So if you want a competitive advantage, be sure to have a website.
What Are Citations?
Citations are “mentions” of your business name and address on other web pages. They are sometimes called “web references.” We are not only talking about links to your web page. Citations can also be information such as your business address, phone number and reviews. In these cases the search engines depend on whatever they can find about your business from other sites. The search engines value authoritative web references to rank your business high in the results.
How Citations Are Used by Google
Google uses citations to verify the authenticity and credibility of local businesses while listing them on Google Places, the business search results that appear on Google Maps. According to SEO expert David Mihm, there appears to be a strong connection between a good Google Place page ranking and the number of citations/reviews the page has. To see the citations for your business indexed by Google, log in to your Google Maps account and go to the tab “Web Pages.” You will find your citation sources in Google Local.
How to Build Citations or Mentions
In Google Places, citations are sourced from three places:
- Google Maps users.
- Google checks other websites for information
- Third-party providers, such as Dex Media
For local businesses, third-party providers give an easy opportunity to get good web references. For example, getting citations from well-established and well-indexed portals such as DexKnows.com helps the authenticity and credibility about your business to the search engines. The best thing you can do to help your ranking is to have a current and complete profile on sites such as DexKnows.com. This builds a strong citation source for the search engines to find your business. Other sources you can use to build your citations include:
How You Can Improve Your Citations or Mentions Here are some steps you can take you to rank higher in Google Places.
- Claim your listings on review sites related to your business.
- List your business in reputable business directories.
- Be consistent with your business information on all external web pages that cite your business.
- Be current on the information.
- Pay attention to reviews and answer complaints.
Citations, or web references, are a great way for local businesses to improve their Google Places ranking. Paying attention to your online presence is a sure way to get your business listing near the top on search engine results.