A citation is anytime your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP) are listed online. It’s even better if it’s a NAPW (includes your website). Citations are often referred to as online business directories.
It’s extremely important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO – getting found online) to be listed on as many as you can, have consistent information and not have duplicate listings within the same directory. Having a good base of citations can help form a good base for an SEO strategy. For instance, your Google My Business listing (the most important!) and your Facebook page are both citations. They both list your contact information.
While you may not see direct leads from just having citation listings (except for Google), they lay a good foundation for your business. If someone searches for you online, Google and other search engines will push you DOWN in the results if you have inconsistent or limited citations. The more citations, the more they trust that you are a legitimate business.
Consumers are more likely to blame local businesses for incorrect listings than those online directories (citations). 30% of consumers would even go to a competitor if they found incomplete or inconsistent information online.
There are two forms of citations, aggregator and manual submissions.
Aggregator sites gather information about local businesses and then either sells or distributes the information to online directories, search engines, online maps and other various online apps. It can have a significant detrimental impact on your business coming up in the search results if the information is inconsistent. Aggregator sites need to be submitted to yearly or anytime there is a change in business information. Because aggregator sites sell data, after a year they consider the information to be stale and it loses it’s ‘trusted’ status. You’ll need to have it updated yearly to confirm there are no changes.
Manual submissions are done by submitting the business information directly to an online citation in order to create or update a listing. Manual submissions only need to be done one time, unless there is a change in business information, then it should be updated.
I am a strong believer in businesses owning their online identity, including any citation listings. For this citation service, you will own your business listings that require a login. If you are comparing citation building work, please make this a priority in your decision.