What are Citations?
Citations are mentions of your business Name, Address and Phone number commonly referred to as NAP. This information is displayed on sites such sites as Google My Business (formerly Google Places), Facebook, Superpages, Yellowpages, Yelp, etc., but can also show up on any website with or without a link to your business site.
It is imperative that the NAP be accurate everywhere it is displayed including your business website so you rank well on Google for local searches.
And, I don't mean the NAP should be kind-of-maybe-close to being correct, it should match perfectly everywhere.
As an example, let's say I own a car repair business in Miami and the registered name of the business is Jim's Brake and Muffler.
On my website the name is listed correctly, but on Facebook it's listed as Jim's Brake and Muffler Center and on Yelp it's listed as Jim's Brake and Muffler Repair, well that's a problem.
When Google looks at these citations it can't be 100% sure that this is the same business because the name doesn't appear to be the same.
The same goes for the address. Let's imagine my business address is 101 Main St. #205, but some citations show 101 E. Main St. #205, well obviously that could be a different location. Or another issue I see a lot of is the that unit or suite number is missing. This can be a problem if there are multiple businesses at the same address, for example, a large office building or strip mall.
The bottom line is that your site will do better in the local search results if you're NAP is accurate and matches across all websites.
Why Should I Care?
If you want traffic from the search engines, then you want to rank as high as possible on page 1 for local search results. Ranking on page 2 or subsequent pages won't get you much traffic to your website.
If you have a plumbing business located in Seattle and someone types in Seattle plumber, or just plumber near me, then the search results will return plumbers near you. This is where your NAP comes into play. This is how Google knows where you are located. The search engine matches your business address with the location of the user. In the case of Seattle plumber, the results will display in a special result set or "pack".
These results stand out from the normal organic results and include phone number, address and Google reviews. As you hover over each result the sidebar changes to display more detailed information about the business. You definitely want your business to show up in the "Pack"! Getting a good number of citations and making sure the NAP is correct will help rank in this special result pack.
Cleaning up Citations
What do you do if your NAP is not correct on sites displaying your business information? The first thing you want to do is to get incorrect citations, corrected. You can do this manually by finding each site with the incorrect information, claiming the account and then correcting the information. Sometimes these sites will require a phone call, or a postcard is sent to your address to verify your identity.
To find the sites you can use tools such as N.A.P Hunter (a Chrome extension), or just simple Google searches for your business information. If you go the Google route, you'll want to search for the following:
- Complete (accurate) business name
- Any of variants of your business name that you have used in the past
- Street address of your business. Search both with and without a suite or unit number, include old addresses
- Local business phone number, including old phone numbers
Schedule a citation review with us and we can help you obtain new citations and clean-up incorrect information
What happens if I find two or more citations on the same website? Duplicate citations can occur if a business has moved locations, phone numbers have changed, business names have changed or it could be a slight variation in the business name. You will want to find and remove any duplicate listings.
You can do this by claiming the duplicate listing and removing the errant entry, or you may need to report the listing as duplicated. Sometimes these methods work and sometimes not. I find trying to remove duplicates to be the most difficult as some sites just seem to ignore your requests, so it may take persistence and a lot of emails.
Searching for duplicates is much the same as searching for incorrect listings. You can use tools such as the N.A.P. Hunter or just a simple search in Google for your business phone number. You can also search directly on the citation site using a phone number, for example.
Below is a list of the recommended top citation sites:
Best of the Web
Chamber Of Commerce
Google My Business
Show Me Local
Yellow page city
It's important to have many accurate citations from reputable sites to help your site rank well for local searches. You can use the list above to start or update your business citations. If you'd like help auditing, building or fixing citations, let us know.