When it comes to SEO, it’s always linking, linking, and more linking. After all, it’s the links that Google bots follow and it’s the links that move you up on a search engine results page (SERP). However, what many companies don’t realize is that citations are also incredibly important for local SEO. While links might be a tad more influential when it comes to Google’s ranking algorithm, citations are still taken into consideration.

For those who are unfamiliar, a citation is simply just a mention of your company name or contact information without a link somewhere across the web. A few examples of where you can find a citation include:

  • A yellow pages directory
  • A local chamber of commerce
  • A local business association
  • Other mentions on any website

As you can see, local plays a big role when it comes to citations. In general, it is the local listings and websites that you have control over when it comes to citations. You can list your name in a yellow pages or a local directory, and even if there is no backlink, you’ll still be gaining the benefits of a citation.

Top Reasons Why Local Citations are Important for SEO

You probably won’t see a huge jump in rankings when it comes to citations; however you will likely be bumped up on a SERP if you’re competing with sites that have a very similar SEO standing as you. Some of the reasons Google likes to see citations include:

  • Validation – Citations show validity, which is probably the number one reason why Google’s algorithm takes them into account. Anyone can put up a website and say they are an expert in a particular niche, but a citation can prove to search engines that the company is actually something of value.
  • Community – It shows you’re part of a community, which will hugely improve your local search engine rankings. In this sense, you’re validating to Google that you are real because it is tough to pretend to be in a local paper or fit your way into one if you don’t really belong. So not only is this just another stem of showing validation, but it’s a way to get your name out there to your community, which Google appreciates.
  • Smaller Niches – Citations work great for businesses in a smaller niche who might not have a website. This is becoming less and less common these days, but small industries in small towns are sometimes still in the dark about Google. Citations are trusted heavily in these situations because Google knows it’s all they can find.
  • Strengthens consistency – The more that Google can see your business is consistent online, the better. Contact information is changing all the time, so citations are a great way to prove that you’re a solid company (and if users appreciate this, Google appreciates this).

Finding your local citations isn’t always easy, but it is a good idea to start keeping track now. Consider setting up a Google Alert for your company so that every time your company is mentioned online you will get an email. When it comes to directories and yellow pages, simply search for your company name and then check over all of the information to make sure it is correct.

Strategies for Earning More Local SEO Citations

Trying to earn more local SEO citations is essentially the same as trying to earn backlinks. You first want to put your name in every local directory you can, and you then want to consider talking to your local chamber of commerce. Once you’ve made this happen, you should consider expanding your reach to some of the same places you do when link building by putting out: Press releases, blog posts and guest blog posts, RSS feeds, banner ads, PPC ads, and even email signatures.