Your website infrastructure is solid, everybody is complementing the design, and you outsourced your content to a professional SEO writer.
Why is your business web page still not ranking in Google?
Perhaps, you may have overlooked the citations. It’s an easy enough mistake to make, and you are not alone in this.
What are Citations?
It does not matter if your business is a law firm, doctors office, coffee shop or car repair shop you need to ensure that your online presence is accurate. Citations refer to the number of times your company is being mentioned on the internet.
There are a number of ways a mention can be counted:
A complete citation is when the company’s name, address and phone number is referred to. A partial citation is when the company’s name or just the phone number is mentioned.
How do I get Citations for my business?
This is the tricky part. There are Structured Citations, which refer to online business listing sites like Foursquare, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local or Superpages. Unstructured Citations refer to organic mentions where you find your company being cited in blogs, event listings, government sites, online news, etc. As you can infer, Google places much more stock to the unstructured citations when determining your local rankings.
How Google’s update Pigeon affected Local Searches
When Google launched the Pigeon update three years ago, SEO and search engine rankings got turned on their head. Now, the correlation between map search and web search is much more significant. It also put a spotlight on other local business directories like TripAdvisor, Kayak, OpenTable and Urbanspoon. The downside is local directories turn up multiple times when doing a local search for a business.
What does that mean? There is not enough room on Page 1 of Google’s search engine results to accommodate all companies so the ones with the most powerful citations will always win out over those not listed in the local business listings.
Cutting down the Excess Baggage
Local companies really have to up their game in putting up a clearer NAP (name, address, phone number) for their Google+ Listing, and getting their names out there through reviews and mentions. For instance, spelling mistakes or redundancies will have drastic negative impacts. Please know that the Google algorithm will cross-reference your NAP with all relevant websites out there, so be careful.
One concrete example is when you change your location or phone number. You have to do the dirty work in contacting directories, review sites, relevant and even social media to update your information. Inconsistent data can kill your ranking.
Organic Searches vs Relevant Searches
It’s worth noting that just because your company’s name has gained a lot of mentions, it doesn’t necessarily cause a bump in the local pack results. Just like with Google’s search engine results pages, organic mentions are not the only factor that ensures high rankings.
For example, if you are a local restaurant specializing in steaks, being cited in Real Property Blog would yield lower results than getting a positive review on TripAdvisor or a high-ranked blog about food. The main thing is relevance. What you really want to avoid is being cited in a blog or website identified as a spam.
What other factors can impact Citations
There are so many other factors, of course, but we will just list down some of these below:
- The quality of citations in directories
- The distance between the searcher and the business address
- Consistency of the citations (structured)
- Quality of the inbound links
- Domain authority
When you say the consistency of citations, it’s divided into several tiers. You have the primary data sources, the top 10 citation sources in the US, then from top 11 to 50 citations sources (also called Tier 2), and the over 50 and above (Tier 3 citation sources).
Quality vs Quantity
Just like the search engine results page (SERP), it’s not the volume of mentions that your business gets but rather the quality of these citations. A 2015 survey by Bright Local revealed that 7 in 10 SEO experts think that the quality of sources trumps quantity every time. Again, as already stated before, getting consistent positive reviews on TripAdvisor will do well to improve the rankings of your local listing. More so than from an obscure website.
However, the best method is to mix the quality and quantity of citations to achieve consistently high rankings. For instance, you get one mention from Tier 1 aggregate source, then a mixture of Tier 2 or Tier 3 websites.
Citations and Google Maps
Embedding an interactive Google map on your website will help potential customers or clients find your business location. You can go to the Google website to do this. You can also create a custom map for your own business website using the Geo APIs.
But citations in relation to Google Maps refer to the web pages relevant to your business listing. These could refer to the national or local directory, the yellow pages, BBB or any other local business affiliations. They can help add credibility and authority to your website, and thus improve local results in the Google Maps 3 pack results.
To summarize, these factors can impact on your local listing:
- The consistency of your NAP
- The number of citations from relevant sites or aggregator sites
- Local listings on Google+, keywords, and categories
- The proximity between business and searcher
- Domain authority
Domain authority (DA) refers to the metrics by which your website is gauged. Basically, your site is going to be measured from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest rating. Very few companies have a DA higher than 80 but some of the factors that can increase a local business DA include:
- The quality of your external links
- The quality of your content
- The volume of engagement
- User-friendliness of your site
- MozRank and MozTrust