A citation is simply the company name, full address (including zipcode) and phone number (NAP) of your business referenced on any webpage online. There doesn’t even need to be a link to your website included to make a valuable citation. Search engines like Google and Bing increasingly use simple NAP citations as a primary source to verify your business information, and in terms of search engine optimisation, will rank you higher in search results for their users knowing that the numerous identical citations out there mean your business information is almost certain to be accurate.
I have detailed below the various places where you can place a citation as many people still believe that the only place to build citations are online directories. This is not the case; below I explain the various ways to build citations.
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The first, most logical place to make sure your business has its NAP is dedicated online directories such as Yell.com. All businesses should ensure they are listed in each and every directory available, and as many have basic, free listings options, there really is no reason not to be. Moz have a great directory list by industry so you are assured of adding your business to a directory that matches your niche.
Getting your business a mention on a popular local blog or even in their listings of local companies is a great way to boost the usefulness of your citations. A blog mention from a trusted source is very hard to fake and will be trusted by search engines.
Many sites publish press releases and so you should try and get yours online. As you will be getting your press release published on third party sites, ensure you don’t add it to your own as well or it will be seen as duplicate content. Make sure you put your NAP at least in the notes of your press release to get that citation. I would suggest you have a read of this great beginner’s guide to PR by Wildshark which explains everything from writing your press release to finding journalists that will get it published.
Image and video descriptions
If you make or contribute to any online videos or even put photos online, include your NAP in the description (as the creator) somewhere and search engines will view this as a citation.
Social media profiles
All your online profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn or Google+, should contain your accurate NAP in a consistent format.
Question and answer sites
Users looking for information online are increasingly directed to dedicated question and answer sites. As a business you have specific expertise in certain fields and can answer questions accurately while including your NAP within the answer or source attribution, adding another citation to your ranks.
If you regularly post to any forums, whether industry or local area-related, putting your NAP into your signatures will give you another useful citation whenever you post. Do not start going around every industry related forum setting up accounts and adding your citation if you do not intend on contributing to each and every forum as this will do more harm than good.
Check the competition
Want to find even more places where your business should get citations? Try finding out where the competition has theirs. Search through Google for their company name and phone number in quotation marks (“COMPETITOR” AND “086 766 000”) and see where they are listed and try to get your own company’s citation on there as well. You may need to click through to the third or later page of results to see where they are listed as the first couple of pages of results are likely just to be from their own website.
Turn partial citations into full citations
Your business might just already be listed in many directory sites without you doing anything. Many directories crawl the internet and add businesses to their directory on the fly. The issue with this is that many directories only add the basic information so you need to search for all partial citations by simply typing your company name into Google to find all listings and contact each directory to include your full contact details. It is in the directories best interest to provide up to date and accurate details so you shouldn’t find this too hard.
Above all, accuracy is key
To use citations successfully, you must ensure each citation is exactly the same. It doesn’t matter if the NAP is broken down on to different lines, but if your address contains for example “Street”, it must always be written as “Street” and not “St” to ensure the citation is picked up by search engines.