Most local business owners know the importance of maintaining a high search ranking in Google and other search engines. When someone in your area searches for a keyword related to your business, you want them to see your business. This local search traffic is critical to attracting customers and driving sales. While there are hundreds of signals that search engines use to determine rankings for local business, one of the most powerful is “local citations.”

Local Citations: The Basics

In the most basic sense, a local citation is any mention of a local business on the Internet. A Yelp listing, for instance, is a local citation that consists of businesses and their respective information. Most local citations such as this feature more than just the business’s name; they also include the business’s contact information, address, hours of operation, etc.

Why Local Citations are Important

So, why are local citations are important? For starters, search engines analyze them to determine where and how local businesses should rank in their index. By creating numerous local citations for your business, you’ll have an easier time achieving a top ranking for local searches.

Of course, these local searches are particularly beneficial for brick-and-mortar businesses, as they drive real sales with “walk-in” traffic. If someone living across the country finds your business online, you probably wont convert that user into a paying customer. But if someone living in or around your city finds your business online, it can certainly trigger a sale.

Consistency!

When creating local citations for your business, it’s important to remain consistent. In other words, use the same format when publishing your business’s name, phone number, address, email address and other associated information. If you use different formats, it can confuse search engines as they try to determine which version is accurate and which is not. Stick with the same format when creating local citations for your business to avoid these problems from occurring.

Verify Accuracy

It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of checking your business’s local citations to ensure they are accurate and up to date. Depending on the specific online directory, other users — whom aren’t associated with your business — might be able to create listings on your business’s behalf. Google My Business, for instance, allows anyone to create a listing, regardless of whether or not they own or work for the business. Unfortunately, this often results in incorrect information about the business being published.