A web citations is a mention of your business name and address on a website. There are hundreds of websites that have business lists, some covering a region (e.g. chamber of commerce), some list businesses in an industry (e.g. professional associations), and other websites try to offer business listing reviews to its users. Each time a site creates a page for your business, including company name and address, that is a local citation. Citations don’t necessarily have a link to your company. Think of it them as like a modern version of the phone book.
Local citations help your business get found. Users on a directory listing maybe searching a list of business for your category in your city. When they view your citation it may be enough for generate a lead. Perhaps they will pick up the phone and call you, else they might go to Google and search your business name to get a better idea. In any case, citations are a good thing!
Citations also help the major search engines. Each reference to your business, company name and address, gives the search engine another signal of its existence. More citations produce a stronger signal to the search engine that you exist, the location you server and that you have a relatively strong presence. In a way, the benefit of the signal to the search engine is similar to that of an inbound link and improve your search rankings. The search ranking optimization we’re talking about it known as local search engine optimization; ranking higher for searches that rely on location based queries (e.g. retail, plumbers, contractors).
How can you get a citation? There are plenty of website out there which will list your business for free. Sometimes your business gets picked up from chambers of commerce or industry websites simply by being a member. For every industry, there are niche directories (e.g. Homestars, TrustedPros) that try to provide the definitive list, so you should try to identify the best ones and get one their list. Additionally, there are hubs of local business listings which provide a listing and also help you to get mentioned on other websites. These hubs may proactively distribute your information for a fee, or provide a central place where directories scrape and collect data from.
If you’ve wondered how your business name gets out there, there are places 3 – 4 primary places on the web where you should make sure your business listing is up to date. In the US, primary sources of company data for major search engines include Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, Factual, Yellowpages.com and Superpages.com send “fresh” feeds to the search engines every couple of months. In Canada, the YellowPages Group and Industry Canada are the key primary sources of data that inform many downstream directories. Lastly, don’t forget, if you want to better control how search engines match your business to local queries, register with them directly. See Google Places for Business , Yahoo Local, Bing Places for Business for their registration process.
Citations and mentions of your business with address on the web are relatively easy to acquire, and improve your presence on the web. Online Presence Manager can help you to clarity how local citations effect your local SEO strategy.