Citations are just mentions of your business, though Google does favour structured citations (business listing format of your business name, address and contact details) over unstructured citations (random mentions in online entities such as blogs and articles).
Why are citations important?
The main importance of citations is that they provide a trust signal to Google regarding the information aligned with your brand (name, address, phone, website, category, etc.) and then apply this to your presence on Google (which includes search engine results, maps, my business and plus). This helps your business get found on Google.
What is the key ingredient to getting good citations?
The key ingredient for getting good citations is to gain a consistent mention of your brand at trusted citation sources so that Google can accurately update your profiles and listings to the correct information as displayed on your website. This will also allow listings at Google to become associated with the location landing pages on the branded websites and ensure, via the brand name, that these pages rank with authority.
Where can I find these “trusted citations”?
Citations can come from anywhere. Structured sources are the strongest, and the secondary metric to apply should be authority. This authority can be garnered from an automated tool like Moz Open Site Explorer or it can be obtained manually by reviewing the SERPs for your brand mentions, and observing the citations that rank consistently. A list of the Top 50 Australian Business Citations has been created at NAPtastic.
When should I engage a citation strategy?
As part of a local businesses online strategy, citations should be continually updated to ensure that correct information has been applied to each. Things like opening hours can change, and if these are not updated, Google could be inadvertently turning your customers away. If you have a change of phone number this too can result in lost leads, if you haven’t updated citations.
NAPtastic offers a number of citation building packages for businesses with varied budgets.