What is a business citation?
When it comes to local SEO, a citation is any mention of your business on the web. A complete local citation should include as a minimum the company name, address, and phone number, which is commonly referred to as your “NAP”, though it can technically be any combination of these three elements.
When building citations, this information is the most important for establishing your NAP, though on business directories it is now common to also include your website address, a contact email address, social media accounts, and even opening hours.
A NAP mention doesn’t necessarily always have to come with a link for it to be recognised as a citation. However, you may also sometimes see people refer to a NAPW or a UNAP citation. In these examples, the W refers to Website, whilst the U refers to URL.
A citation also doesn’t need to link back to your website to be valuable. The value in a citation is the mention of your business. Although a NAP without a link still provides value to your website, getting one with a link is usually preferred as it provides additional value. This is because it provides an extra data point on the internet that helps search engines connect the citation to your business.
Google identifies that your business was mentioned through the presence of your NAP info, and you get credit for this mention. The more mentions of your business out on the web, the more prominent your business appears to Google, and this will help with your local rankings.
Citations are also broken into two types, being structured and unstructured. Structured citations are those provided by business directory sites. Unstructured citations are those contained within things such as blogs, review sites, magazine/newspaper sites, and wikis.
What directories are the best ones to use?
There are a large number of Australian business directories, but the focus should only be on those that are highly used directories which also provide quality backlinks. WhiteSpark provides the following list for Australia: https://whitespark.ca/top-local-citation-sources-by-country/australia/
Depending on your industry there may be other directories that are relevant that are not on this list.
Listing your business on various prominent national and local sites will help your business establish authority, create and build trust, and most importantly will improve your business’ ability to rank in local search results.
Why spend time building citations?
With so much to do in your business already, why take the time to focus on citations? By creating multiple data points on other websites, it helps search engines such as Google and Bing verify that your business exists.
When all these credible sources have the same accurate information about your business, it signals to search engines that your business is legitimate. This then increases the potential for your website to outrank your competitors for that number one spot on Google, and ultimately drive more leads to your business.