Local citations play a critical role in local SEO strategies. But it’s not just about having citations—it’s about getting them right. This blog post will guide you through the key considerations when formatting your local citations.
Understanding Local Citations
First things first: A local citation refers to the online mention of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). These citations can be found on business directories, websites, social platforms, and even apps. Accurate, consistent, and properly formatted local citations are essential to improve your local search visibility.
The NAP Principle
Local citations revolve around the NAP principle: Name, Address, and Phone number. This principle is the cornerstone of citation formatting, and here are the key things to remember:
The name of your business needs to be absolutely consistent across all citations. Even small discrepancies can confuse search engines and potential customers. Keep the following in mind:
- If your official business name is “The Gourmet Bakery,” it should not appear as “Gourmet Bakery” or “TGB” in your citations.
- Avoid including location-specific information in your business name, such as “The Gourmet Bakery NYC.” Instead, let your address communicate your location.
- If your business is “Joe’s Plumbing LLC,” avoid using “Joe’s Plumbing” in some citations and the full “Joe’s Plumbing LLC” in others.
Your address must be accurate, detailed, and consistent. Don’t abbreviate Street to St. in some citations and spell it out in others. Additionally, always include suite numbers, floor numbers, and other relevant details. Inconsistent addresses can cause search engines to view your citations as separate entities, diluting the overall strength of your local SEO efforts.
For example, “123 Main Street, Suite 200” should not be “123 Main St., Ste. 200” in another citation.
Like your name and address, your phone number must be consistent across all citations. Keep in mind to use a local phone number that includes your area code. Some businesses use tracking numbers to analyze the effectiveness of different marketing channels. If you do so, ensure to use a consistent method to present these numbers to avoid confusion.
Also, your phone number should include your local area code and be consistent across all citations. Don’t mix and match local and toll-free numbers.
While the NAP principle forms the core of your citation, including additional information can make your citation more informative. Consider adding your business hours, website URL, and a brief description of your services. Remember to keep this information consistent across all platforms.
Consistency is Key
One of the most critical factors in citation formatting is consistency. Search engines value consistency as it boosts confidence in the accuracy of your business information. Any variations can confuse search algorithms and lead to lower local search rankings.
Even with the best intentions, inconsistencies and errors can creep into your citations over time. Regular audits allow you to identify and correct these issues before they affect your local SEO performance.
During an audit, examine all your citations across different platforms. Check for inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your NAP, business hours, website URL, and other information. Keep in mind to also check for duplicate listings, which can confuse both search engines and potential customers.
Dealing With Multiple Locations
If your business has multiple locations, it’s important to create separate citations for each one. Each citation should include the specific NAP information for that location. This approach helps search engines and customers distinguish between your various locations, improving local search performance and customer experience.
Properly formatting your local citations is crucial for improving local SEO. By focusing on the NAP principle, ensuring consistency, and conducting regular audits, you can optimize your local citations for the best results. Whether you’re a small business owner or an SEO professional, adhering to these guidelines will help your business increase its online visibility, drive local traffic, and stand out in the digital marketplace.