When people use Google to find a local service, Google returns a few different types of search result.
These include ad (pay-per-click) results, organic results (everything that doesn’t have ‘ad’ next to it) and Google My Business listings (these show up on Google Maps and have their own dedicated search box).
Google My Business listings are the most relevant local search results on Google. The dedicated results box looks like this:
You can claim your Google My Business listing for free. However, getting your business to the top of this local search box requires a few things.
One of these things is local address citations.
What are local address citations?
Local address citations are mentions of your business on other websites. They are known to directly influence local search engine rankings.
Citations are not the same as backlinks because they do not link to your site. Instead, they contain business information that identifies your business.
When Google finds and crawls a citation, it automatically makes the link between the citation and the information in your Google My Business listing. This creates what we call a ‘note of recognition’ and a data footprint.
Local address citations should contain the following information:
- Business name
- Phone number (if applicable)
- Email address
- Physical address
- The URL for your website (optional with no link)
Quality over quantity
It is common knowledge in the local SEO industry that local address citations can give Google My Business listings a positive rankings boost. However, they can also damage rankings if they are not created and distributed properly.
For local address citations to have a positive impact on rankings, a robust and accurate citation set on major platforms is required. This means focusing on quality over quantity and having a strategy before jumping in.
There are three areas your citation strategy should focus on:
- Platform quality
The quality of the platforms your citations exist on will determine whether they have a positive, negative or negligible influence on your rankings. For example, a citation on Yelp is better than a citation on a low-quality blog.
Here are some of the core UK citation platforms:
- Google My Business listing
- Bing Places for Business listing
- Apple Maps listing
- Thomson Local
- Citation quantity
Quality over quantity is the key here. You don’t want to dilute the power of your best citations with low-quality citations. It’s better to have 10 great citations than 100 average citations. This also makes them easier to manage.
- Data accuracy
Citations are worthless if they have inaccurate data. You need to ensure the data you include is accurate. You also need to keep on top of updating your citations for things like address changes and phone number changes.
How to dominate local search
If you get your local address citations right, you should see positive improvements in your Google My Business rankings. However, citations are only part of the picture. There’s much more to dominating local search in your industry.
We recommend reading our article covering how Google determines local rankings to find out more about Google’s criteria.
Those of you unsure about the value of local SEO will also find our article on the advantages of local SEO versus traditional marketing helpful.
Google also has local SEO tips for businessowners here.
I have been walking the talk with SEO for 18 years and have money-generating web businesses of my own. My background is real-world business and marketing. Search engine optimisation is not black art. If you want your website to do better, contact me.