How Important Are Citations for Local SEO in 2015?

April 6, 2015
by Conor Treacy

    Seo Optimization 3DOne of the most common questions Big Red SEO receives from potential clients is if there’s a difference between standard SEO and local SEO. While there is definitely overlap between the best practices for both forms of SEO, there is a difference between the two approaches. The reason that it doesn’t make sense to approach local SEO in exactly the same way as standard SEO is because Google uses different algorithmic variations for these sets of results.

    What Do the Terms Standard SEO and Local SEO Mean?

    Before we get any deeper into this topic, it’s worth clarifying the difference between these two forms of SEO. Although the lines continue to be blurred, the best way to think of standard SEO is in terms of a website or blog that’s not centered around a specific local address. Whether that means a national insurance company or a popular gossip blog, SEO generally plays a key role for these types of online properties. However, that doesn’t mean sites and blogs in this category should focus on the same SEO tactics as local businesses.

    When the term local SEO is used, it refers to a business in Omaha or another city with a physical presence. Since it’s not a secret that Google treats businesses in this category different from others, many people want to know why. One reason is that when people search for a local business, they’re often looking for a specific piece of information like reviews or a phone number.

    Another reason that Google handles local search results differently is because an increasing number of these searches are done via mobile devices. Because people want to know what businesses are around them in Omaha or wherever they may be searching from, Google needs a way to return the right set of results. That need is why citations are such an important local SEO factor.

    What Are Citations?

    If you’ve read any other posts on the Big Red SEO blog, you may have come across the concept of Google treating incoming links as votes. That’s why when an established site links to a newer one, it can noticeably increase the newer site’s search rankings and traffic.

    While links are important for local businesses, Google places even more weight on a similar factor; citations. This factor is commonly referred to as NAP citations, which stands for name, address and phone number. Although citations can be published anywhere online, the most common example is a citation that’s added to a trusted online directory.

    The reason that Google places so much weight on citations is when the name, address and phone number of a business are listed in a trusted directory, Google can feel confident that the business has an actual location in a city like Omaha. Since citations are so important for how Google delivers local search results, citations make it possible to weed out local search spam and properly rank real local businesses.

    Will Citations Continue to Be Important for Local SEO?

    All signs point towards to the answer to that question being yes. While local Omaha businesses need online citations in order to improve their rankings in Google and bring in more search engine traffic, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to rack up a huge amount of citations.

    As with incoming links, one of the most common mistakes that Big Red SEO sees businesses make is focusing on citation quantity instead of quality. Although it’s easy to understand why local businesses get stuck in the mindset of accumulating as many citations as possible, that’s a strategy that can actually work against a business.

    When it comes to choosing the right sources for citations, there are a few factors that can help guide decisions. Specifically, Omaha businesses should look for citation sites that have high industry and local relevance, as well as domain authority.

    How Can An Omaha Business Begin Looking for Citation Sources?

    While the above factors outlined above can help businesses determine whether or not they should be listed in a specific citation source, there’s still the issue of first finding potential sources. Although a few basics like Yelp may come to mind without any additional research, limiting yourself to those options means you’re going to miss out on a lot of good opportunities.

    When it comes to finding citation sources that have high industry or local relevance, competitive research can be invaluable. By taking the time to search where one or more competitors are currently listed, you can come up with a list of citation source targets that will most likely be very beneficial for your own business.

    Are There Any Common Citation Mistakes to Avoid?

    In addition to emphasizing citation quantity over quality, the other most common and problematic mistake is failing to maintain citation consistency. Whether it’s in the form of using different phone numbers or not formatting an address in exactly the same way, seemingly small citation issues can actually have a significant negative impact. Since the last thing you want is to inadvertently reduce the effectiveness of your citations, be sure that every citation listing you obtain is in the exact same format.

    Let Big Red SEO Help You Build Quality Citations: (402) 522-6468

    As you can see from everything we covered, there’s a lot to keep in mind about citations. Even though citations are crucial for helping your Omaha business rank well in 2015 and beyond, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to obtain the right citations. If you’re ready to improve your site’s rankings but feel overwhelmed about implementing an effective strategy to build citations, Big Red SEO is here to help.

    Since we’re local SEO experts, we can create a strategy built around what’s going to work best for your specific business. By taking a custom approach to building citations, we can ensure that your business gets on the right path and continues to increase momentum. So if you want to reap all the benefits that go along with ranking higher in Google’s local search results, call us today at (402) 522-6468 to discuss how we can help.

    Conor Treacy

    About

    Conor Treacy has been in the SEO game since the mid-90's when SEO hadn't yet come into full fruition. He spends most of his days performing website audits, reading and writing SEO blogs and industry related material. The rest of his time is consumed with correcting people on their invalid and blackhat ways. The SEO world has changed in recent years, there's a lot of disinformation on the web!