You might have heard of citations in the academic form, but citations for search engine optimisation (SEO) are a little different. Using citations as part of your local SEO strategy can help to improve your digital marketing strategy can help to improve your online visibility and will boost your chances of being found in local searches. 

When you are creating a search engine optimisation strategy you should consider local marketing as part of your campaign. Local SEO is an effective method of marketing your local business online, allowing you to promote your products and services to a local audience at the exact time they are online and searching for your business. Not sure where citations fit in? Below we take a closer look at what citations are and how to optimise them. 


But…What Are Citations, Exactly?


Before we dive into the deep end and explain how to optimise your citations for better SEO results, you are probably wondering what citations are. In simple terms, a citation is any mention of a business’s name, address, phone number, and website URL (NAPW) on a business directory, business listing website, or even in a blog post. 

The most popular way to gain citations is to use a business directory, as it gives you direct control over what information is shared, how the listing appears, and what links to place for consumers to follow. This will help your local search engine optimisation strategy as your business will appear in location-based search results. 

There are two different types of citations that you can use for local SEO, namely structured and unstructured. Structured citations are typically on business directories, where the user will fill out a form and submit their information to editors who will approve it for publication (some directories are instant). 

Unstructured citations are the result of press releases and social media mentions. Your NAPW will be visible and linked throughout an article or a webpage but will not be in a structured format. For example, you might find your name, address, and phone number listed in one sentence and a link to your website URL mentioned further on. 

Having both types of citations will help to improve your local SEO, but below we give some tips on how to optimise citations for directories. 


Decide On An Official Business Name 


Now, this does not mean that you will need to change your name completely, simply that you will need to decide on what “official” business name you will be using. For example, your business name might be “ Dan’s Dog Beds Pty. (Ltd). but your consumers might simply call you “Dan’s Dog Beds”. Listing your full business name does help with SEO but you could add into the description section that you are known by the other name, helping consumers to recognise your business quickly and easily. 


Keep Information Up-To-Date


One of the best ways to optimise all of your citations is to ensure that the information you provide is up-to-date and correct. This is especially true of your  NAPW. If your Google Business and business directory listings have conflicting information, your SEO results and your trustworthiness in the eyes of your consumers will go down. If your business name, address, phone number, or website URL change, be sure to update this accordingly. 


Manage Your Reputation


Some free online business directories allow users to leave reviews of the companies listed there, which can be great for local SEO but, if the negative reviews are not addressed and resolved, it can be detrimental. You can choose to reply directly to these comments, but some might be better dealt with privately. 


Always Add Images


With visual search becoming more and more prevalent, it is vital that you include high-quality images in your citations, where images are allowed to be placed. If you are using a logo, be sure it is in a JPEG format rather than a PNG, as a clear background might not work for white text and images. For any product images, be sure that the labels are clear and easy-to-read and always use alt-text for your images. 


Keep It Cool With Citations


Using citations for your local SEO can help to improve your online visibility and your local audience reach. In order to make the most of this simple tool, be sure to have an official business name to use for each listing, use the correct information, and always use the best images possible for your listing. 

Local SEO can be extremely helpful for businesses who would like to attract more location-based customer. If you would like to improve your SEO rankings and online presence, speak to NetMechanic today to find out how we can help you.