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Optimizing Local Citations

Optimizing Local Citations

Basic citation building will see you creating a listing and ensuring your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are correct and consistent. With that done, you can embrace additional tasks to grow the value of each citation you build.

Why should you optimize local business citations? 

Optimizing citations can help you to enhance your online presence by providing Google with more information about your business. Actions such as adding keywords to your business description, or choosing the right category, help Google better determine when your business should be displayed to local search users. 

Greater online visibility for relevant searches can also result in more traffic to your site, more conversions, and increased footfall to your brick-and-mortar location.

What does citation optimization entail? 

Citation optimization considers each element of your business listing. This includes which directory and listing sites you pursue when building citations, the accuracy and consistency of information, and the amount of helpful detail shared. 

How to Optimize Your SEO citations 

Whether you’re going back through existing listings to identify opportunities for optimization or creating a new listing, optimization efforts should be systematic and include each citation element. 

Maintain Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) Consistency 

NAP consistency is a local search ranking factor. To reap the most benefit from this, you’ll need to check each listing and verify that they all use the same NAP data.

Nap Consistency1

Nap Consistency2

Check Your Business Description 

Optimizing your business descriptions is another way to be confident that your citations are working as hard as possible for your business. 

In addition, a clear, concise description is a valuable data source for Google and other search engines. It can help search engines better understand which local searches your business should rank for. 

For popular sites that receive a large volume of consumer traffic, such as Tripadvisor, Facebook, or Google Business Profile (GBP), there’s the added benefit of being able to provide potential customers with useful information.

Optimized Business Description

Choose the Correct URL 

For small local businesses with a single location, choosing the correct URL to attach to your business listing is straightforward. 

For larger, multi-location businesses, it can be more complex. You should link to the location page specific to the citation. If your citation relates to your outlet in Denver but you also have outlets in Miami Beach and Atlanta, your citation should link to the Denver-specific page on your site.  

A benefit of taking this approach is that consumers looking at the Denver business listing can click straight through to the relevant webpage without needing to hunt around on your site.

Select the Most Appropriate Business Category

Selecting the most appropriate business category for your website provides additional insight to Google. It helps it understand what your business does and which search queries you’re most relevant to. 

In the case of citations from GBP, your primary category is the number one local search ranking factor for Local Pack visibility.

Add Engaging Imagery

If the citation site permits image uploads, selecting high-quality, attractive photos can help your listing stand out. Images also clearly show consumers what they can expect from you.

A range of photo types is most useful for consumers. Google suggests adding a mix of pictures showing your business’s approach from several directions, as well as the interior and exterior of the building. Google also recommends sharing photos of key staff members, customer areas, and shots of individual products or services.

For example, a hotel may want to upload images of the rooms, while a bar may wish to share pictures of cocktails and other popular drinks.

Engaging Imagery

Grow Your Review Profile 

Review Profile

Many sites where you’ll optimize your business information will allow consumer reviews. Where this is the case (and it isn’t against the review platform’s policy to solicit consumer reviews), you should have an ongoing review generation strategy in place. 

Specifically for GBP, review signals — such as the recency of reviews and percentage of positive reviews — are known to be local search ranking factors. 

Stephanie Newton
About the author
Stephanie was responsible for managing BrightLocal’s community outreach and engagement, as well as producing and managing content to help inform and educate the local SEO community.