Citations are to your local listing what back-links are to your website. It is the way the search engines find and verify that your Business Listing is legit. A good citation is made up of your business name, address, phone number and sometimes your website. An example of a citation could be found in the online yellow page directory. Citations are also popular on local chamber of commerce pages, or on a local business association pages.
Citations are a key component of the ranking algorithms in Google Maps and Bing Local, to name a few. If you have two listings that are equal in every other way, the business with the greater number of citations will most likely rank higher than the business with fewer citations.
To increase the effect of a citation, it’s important that it appear on a well-established and well-indexed portals (i.e., Superpages.com). These type of portals help increase the degree of certainty the search engines have about your business, it’s contact and categorization.
Citations are even more important in less-competitive niches, like electrical or plumbing, where many business owners don’t have websites themselves. Without a website full of information to draw from, the search engines rely heavily on whatever information they can find.
Citations also prove that a business is part of a community. Google is logical and logic dictates that it is difficult for someone to fake membership in a local chamber of commerce or a city’s business index, or having articles written about them in local online newspaper or blogs. When the search engines find a business among these types of listings, they bring credibility to that business.
So, if you want to be found on the local search engines like Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Yelp or Bing Local, make sure to develop a healthy and accurate number of citations for your business location.