Local Business Citations 2018 – What are they? Why does your business need them? How do they work?
Do you remember in High School or College the professors made you cite the source of your information on your research papers? Well, citations for businesses work in a very similar way in reference to local SEO (Search Engine Optimization.) However, business citations are thorough listings of your company’s information. Typically, this information refers to your businesses name, address, website, business hours etc. The flow of your company’s business details is one of the key factors in localized SEO.
What are local business citations?
For arguments sake, we’ll describe the word citation as a reference to or a mention of something. There are several other definitions and descriptions, but the ones above really only apply to business related citations.
According to Vocabulary.com, the word citation comes from the Latin word citationem, which means “to call forward.” 
So, citations when in reference to your company are business listings with your businesses detailed information on it calling people forward to call or visit your business.
What type of information should go onto my business listings?
Typically, business listings can be different in nature, some business directories will allow everything about your business and some will only allow your businesses name and address or only your businesses name and number. It’s really up to the website that is offering an opportunity to list your business in their directory. One important fact that we can tell you is that the more information they ask you for, the more information you should provide.
Google refers to these business listings and takes them into consideration when ranking a company locally. A complete citation is based upon your company name, address and phone number. Search engines and rank monitoring systems look at a local businesses N.A.P. scores, when deciding where you should rank locally for your specific business category. The more references search engines have, the more they understand what business category and keywords they should rank you under.
Do I only need to put my business name address and phone number into a business listing?
No. You should always fill a business listing out to the best of your ability. For example: If a website allows you to include information such as business hours, pictures, services, alternate phone numbers and other information a potential customer may be looking for, you should fill it out.
What kind of citations are there?
For arguments sake we’ll say there are structured and unstructured citations. A structured business citation will categorically list your business in an organized way. An unstructured business citation will just mention a business’s name, address and number with no attempt at an organizational structure.
Structured Business Citations examples:
A structured citation for businesses is an NAP citation similar to what you would see on Yellow Pages, Google Maps, Yelp or any other major business directory. A structured business listing will typically have your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation and other structured information categorized under your businesses category.
Unstructured Business Citations examples:
An unstructured business citation is typically an unorganized mention of a business name, address and phone number. For example, if you search for, “best restaurants for seafood” there’s a good chance you’ll stumble upon blogs with a list of their top ten places to eat seafood with each of the top ten business names, addresses and phone numbers. We illustrate this in the photo…
Why does your company need local business citations?
Let’s say you’re a pizza restaurant located in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. You’re new to the area and you just opened your business, but you have no mentions of your company online or any place else except the signage in your storefront window. Well, it’s going to be kind of hard to attract new customers if your business has no local business citations, because the majority of people are looking online for your services and the foot traffic past your business is minimal at best.
The understanding you need to have as a small business owner is even if you have a website, it’s no better than a business card if other websites or people have no clue it’s there.
Do I need to pay for local business listings?
No. Google my business or business.google.com is where you can list your local business on Google so that when people search for your company’s services locally, they can find you. This goes for several business services from pizza places to HVAC services. I would start there first.
Become a Local SEO Badass…
Secondly, I would research your local competitor’s business names and see what websites they’re listed on. In many cases these business listings are free and great for local SEO. Our S.T.B.P.R. research team suggests that you search Google and Bing for these listings, this way you can cover the two highest traffic search engines. To start we suggest you list your business in as many places as possible. It’s good practice to start doing this for your business before you even open the doors, this way when you do open they’re indexed in the search engines and you are already receiving traffic from them.
In most cases you don’t need to pay, but you will get solicitors calling you asking for you to upgrade your membership for more views for better local SEO, but you don’t need to at all. In fact, they most likely will just take your money and you won’t see much come from it. However, in some cases you could, but 80% out of 100% you won’t.
What about companies that will handle my business listings for me?
It’s a tough call, to be honest. Companies like YEXT local and others similar will charge you a monthly fee. In many cases their platforms don’t allow you to be as thorough as you should be when filling out the information necessary pertaining to your company. Where they fall short is it doesn’t give the search engines enough content about your business to rank those business listings better.
In many cases we suggest you setup the big ones yourself or hire a local SEO company to handle it for you. If they’re an honest company that knows what they are doing they will only charge you a flat fee of anywhere between 200-300 dollars whereas those other companies like YEXT local will charge you that much per month with a 6-12 month contract. Once you leave those companies, in many cases you lose control of those business listings.
How many business listings do I need?
We suggest you have as many as possible, but this can be achieved over time. Why we suggest as many as possible is with regard to your NAP score in the eyes of Google and BING. However, when you’re just starting out research the highest ranking ones under your competitors business name and make sure you setup those ones as fast and as thorough as possible.
Why should I fill out my business listings thoroughly?
Search Engines like Google, Bing and interior business listing search engines (searching a website like Yelp for services) typically keep those business listings with the most detailed information at the top of the search query. This means that you want to be as detailed as possible when building out a business listing. If you’re asked for pictures have pictures prepared in advance when you’re looking to start this endeavor.
In Closing: What you as a business owner need to know about local business citations or business listings.
Look, we get it… You’re a busy business owner and you’re somewhat of a big deal or something of the sort. Well, what we can tell you is this… If you’re a start-up company and you’re operating on a low budget, you will most likely lose a lot more money than you have to “taking shots” on companies trying them out and getting sold on things they can’t deliver with results that are sub-par. This isn’t rocket science, but it can be time consuming.
Lion Heart Advertising specializes in protecting the bank and fulfilling duties to guarantee an ROI (Return on Investment) within a small window of time. If you don’t want to waste your time, you’re welcome to give us a call. We offer a one hour free consultation and within that time frame we can direct you in the most affordable direction, even if you don’t spend money with us.