What is a Citation?
Traditionally citations are quotes or references to articles, documents or other pieces of information of relevance and importance.
One will traditionally cite the source of information to give them credit for their works. A citation will traditionally consist of quoting the work, making reference to the author or publisher, dates if important and more.
Online Business Citations
In context of local businesses and the online world, a citation is reference to a businesses website which references its key pieces of information. In addition, it never hurts to have more information than less about the business. The key here is we are looking for relevant information usually in a succinct manner.
The Importance of Citations
The importance of business citations work twofold. In the real world, a business needs to be found. ‘If you can’t be found, it’s like you don’t exist’ (that’s our motto). A real business needs to be found by its customers whether it be a physical location, by phone or online. If there are no citations to a business, how does one find you? The answer is quite simple. Citations! Everyone knows Yellow Pages, White Pages and Sensis. While very popular, would you believe many don’t use it.
In todays world, if we are looking for something, whether it be a physical location or contact details, we no longer pull out a telephone directory. Most of the time, we won’t even look at the classifieds in a newspaper. Many of us might not even know what a telephone book is or how much it was relied upon in the good old days.
Consider Yellow Pages or White Pages as a source of citation for example. In general it has the information needed for the end user and has the most important details in the most succinct presentation. It will have the businesses name, address and contact details and a website address to visit. The listing will be categorised so that the searcher knows that they are looking at the right business in the right industry.
Important Parts of a Citation for Businesses
These are the key parts to any online citation for a business and these principals should apply whether we are considering these citations from a real life or online perspective:
Arguably the most important part for the business and the searcher. Websites are becoming more powerful than store fronts these days so make sure you have your website details there and make sure it’s correct. There’s nothing more off-putting than clicking on a link to find the page does not exist and people will not spend the time to find out why. Unless your customer base is loyal, you may find that the user will just move onto the next business on the list of where they are searching.
NAP – Name, Address & Phone Number
As important as the URL, this information is important. How frustrating would it be if you were looking for a restaurant and turned up to the address listed to find it’s no longer there? or it closed last year? or to find out that you are across town because it was the right street name but the wrong suburb?
- Business Name – Make sure your name details are correct. While we are quite protected that others can not use the same business name as us in Australia, there may be ‘similar’ names or people might commonly refer to you by a name that isn’t your full trading name.
- Business Address – It seems a no brainer but people do change locations and forget to update. In many cases this confuses people especially when they are looking at different trusted sources of citations and find different addresses. Eg. if your restaurant is on Yelp at an old address but your Google address is current then which one does the customer believe? Even more confusing is when people forget to update their own website of an address change (which does happen).
- Business Phone Number – In Australia especially we still like to use the phone even if the answers are on the screen or if there’s chat or online form access. Having the incorrect number may lose your customer.
Tell customers your opening hours so they know when to find you. If the citation source allows for opening hours then keep that up to date. It’s annoying when people contact you out of office hours and it’s not an emergency. Even more frustrating when you are a customer looking for help, a product or a service and don’t know when they can reach you.
Get your categories right. If you’re a sporting goods retailer, then let people know you retail sporting goods. If you are too broad or generic and just say ‘sports’ or ‘sporting goods’ (this is just a hypothetical), then people wont know that you are a retailer. You could be a wholesaler, a manufacturer or even by your business name, people might think you’re a sporting facility or complex. We spend so much time in our own business and industry that we forget about the people on the outside who are ultimately our target audience.
Give a good short description of yourself. Most citation sources only allow around 250 characters to sell yourself, your products and services. Make it short sharp and shiny. Include your USPs and CTAs but don’t go for the hard sell. Encourage the phone call or website visit. If your customer is looking for you then they already know what you are about. If a potential new customer is viewing your profile for the first time, you want to gain their trust.
The Importance of Citations in SEO
There is as much importance in the digital world for citations as there is in the real world. Citations play an important part of a businesses local search engine rankings and can have an impact on search engine results especially when it comes to map rankings.
Every website is different and there are different factors that have a knock on effect to how well a website ranks but what we have shared above is the basic key to success. Together with the right on page optimisations and citations, you will have a competitive advantage among your peers when the right searcher searches at the right time and the right place for the niche your business is in.
Other Citation No Brainers
We call them no brainers but to those that do not spend much time online and aren’t internet savvy, this is probably the most crucial piece of information to digest. To start, set up your business listing properly and start at the big ones. The first two listings I always check with any client is Google and Bing. Why? the answer’s simple. Those are the two largest search engines on the planet and most commonly used in Australia. There are some countries that have a preference for yahoo or yandex or baidu but in Australia you’re pretty safe with Google and Bing.
Google My Business (GMB)
Why Google? It’s the clearest winner when it comes to sheer volumes of searches so why wouldn’t you want your business details to show up. Especially when someone is searching for your business name. Even better if your name shows up when someone searches for a service that you provide.
In a world dominated by Google, Bing still has it’s foot in the door. With many users with computers running on Windows, there are those that use the Edge web browser which defaults to Bing as a search engine. After all, it’s all owned by Microsoft.
Reality Fact: Just because you have a GMB or Bing listing completed does not guarantee that your name will show up just because someone searches your brand or desired keywords but in order for your business listing to show, unless Google or Bing has already identified you, you will need to create a new listing.
Claim & Verify Your Business Listing
In the event that Google or Bing have identified your business and you have never seen it or touched it before, claim the listing. It is your business after all. Claiming the listing means that you will have control over the information in there and will have the added ability to add more whether it be content, promotions, photos and videos.
So Citations, Where to get started?
Whether you chose to engage with a SEO company for SEO Services or look to tackle this task head on, the best place to start is to look at where you are already cited. If you have used a SEO agency in the past, there’s a good chance that they have already been creating citations for you and you may not be aware. Start with a Citation Audit. A citation audit will help you visualise where your citations are and may uncover where you have incorrect details listed on the world wide web which may need some immediate attention in correcting. There’s nothing worse than having a customer call you to tell you that your contact details listed are incorrect.
Get a Citation Audit
Get an SEO Audit for just $29 (ex GST). It doesn’t matter where in Australia you are or even where in the world you are, you can get a Citation Audit from us completed for just $29 whether you’re a client or not. If you’re interested just drop us a message or hit us up on chat if we’re online to get started.