If you run local SEO campaigns for small businesses, you have certainly heard of "citations." Local citations, as the name suggests, are mentions of your business across the web on local directories, websites or associations. These have to be on either relevant or authoritative websites or portals (preferably both). Now let's take the concept one step further. Citations are mentions of a business along with the NAP (this stands for Business Name, Business Address and Business Phone Number). This ensures that search engines can accurately collect information on your specific business. With so many company names similar to each other, search engines need information that is unique to your business entity. And what better piece of information then an address and a phone number of a company along with the business name? The IRS and other governing bodies use this information as well, so its a pretty standard data collection process.
Citations are a great way of signalling to search engines that a website is relevant to a specific geographic location and offering a particular service.
Now how does one go about building these valuable citations? I have outlined a couple of steps (depending on experience level).
Beginner LevelAs with all beginners, you need to learn and understand how to find citations the hard way.
The best approach is to take the No. 1 ranking website for your keyword/keyphrase and copy the company's NAP and place these in quotations. Now insert this into a Google search. All the websites that show up are potential sites where you can place citations for your specific business.
Go down the list until you have captured all of the potential citation sites. Once complete, take the second competitor and rinse and repeat the process for all the first page websites.
Tired of doing things by hand, but you understand the foundational concepts? Well, its time to use Scrapebox. This nifty little tool will automate the process for you.
All you need to do is place the NAP in the search box and hit enter. Scrapebox will return all the Google search results (all pages) in one area, which you can then export into an excel spreadsheet. This will save you time and some finger pain.
You can buy Scrapebox for under $100 and it has a ton of other features that come with the tool. Every internet marketer needs to have this brilliant piece of software.
Tired of using your hands and Scrapebox? To no surprise, there are citation services available like Whitespark.
If you have the budget, they will do all the work for you of finding the citations and placing your business information on them as well. All you need to do is provide the NAP and a few categories and you're good to go. The price tag is a bit steep (at about $4-$5 per citation), but you save a great deal of time and effort that you can use on other link building tactics.
And there you have it. A complete step-by-step guide on how to find citations no matter which stage of the SEO learning process you're currently in. This guide should help you build some quality citations for your next local SEO campaign.