They should also help you more effectively build and manage your citations.
Why Build and Manage Citations?
In the context of search engine optimization, a “citation” is any mention of your business on the Web, along with other key information, with or without a link back to your website.
A typical citation provides the Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) of your business, and it’s the lifeblood of your company’s online presence.
Citations hold particular importance when it comes to local search. Google and other search engines view citations as one of the major contributors to and factors for determining your business’ authority, online and offline prominence, and relevance. High-quality citations also continued to play a foundational part in local search ranking algorithms.
The more citations you have across the Web — as long as always consistent and provide accurate NAP information (more on this below) — the more weight your company will have in local search rankings.
What Citation Tools Can Do For You
Search engines, especially Google, thrive on their ability to provide accurate and consistent information. When it comes to citations, they’re no different.
If your NAP doesn’t appear exactly the same on one citation source as it does on all the others, it doesn’t get weighed appropriately. This means that even in the case when your citation is present, you’re not getting the most benefit from it if it’s not in a standardized format.
Even small differences count. If you abbreviate a street address in one citation but don’t do it in any others, it can cause your local SEO efforts to flounder. Sometimes even the addition or omission of parentheses around a telephone number’s area code can lead to the same issue.
This is where a citation tool can be helpful. Once you enter your business or website information, a citation tool can conduct analysis on your citations for you, providing you detailed feedback and valuable insights on how effective your citations are when it comes to ranking your business in local search.
Many citation tools are multifunctional, providing the ability to compare your own citation health and local ranking against competitors, flagging incorrect or incomplete citations on existing sites such as business directories, and pointing out missed opportunities in the form of sites where you may not yet have your citation listed.
Types of Citation Tools and Services
While the majority of citation tools have the opportunity to build your company’s local search presence, not every citation tool will offer you the same types of features as another.
Some are more expensive than others, while others still will offer better value for money when it comes to their feature sets. The key, in this case, is to find a citation tool that fits your budget and provides you exactly the support you need.
Some of the most advanced citation tools out there are bespoke services where you simply provide your NAP to a company and they do the rest, charging you a small fee per site to ensure your citation is listed properly.
Even more advanced services will track your citations and keep them updated for the length of a subscription, ensuring that your NAP is always up-to-date and uniform.
These options are ideal for larger businesses that have expansive local SEO and marketing budgets but lack the in-house expertise to manage their own citations manually.
However, these citation tools are often inappropriate for small businesses, startups, or similar companies where there’s not much in the way of additional cash to burn on local SEO.
Thankfully, there are a number of free or very low-cost citation tools available. They may not offer the concierge-level service of the big boys; instead, they offer a do-it-yourself level of service that’s easy on the budget. The tradeoff is in sweat equity, as you’re often doing the citation tweaking yourself instead of having someone else do it for you.
The Final Word
Citations can be the lifeblood of your company’s online presence. Ensuring that your citations are uniform and complete across Google services and every business directory, social media platform, review website, data aggregator, and third-party local directory is crucial in maintaining a strong local search presence.
With local SEO being the complex beast that it is, it’s only natural that you’re going to need some help in your corner when it comes to taming that beast. Citation tools are an excellent resource for businesses that want to make the most out of their local search optimization efforts.
Many of these citation tools are simple, low-cost ones that just identify where you need to manually enter new citations or amend existing ones. However, if you are in need of more managed citation services, there are also advanced options waiting for you. These are ideal for larger companies that have more ambitious plans for their local search optimization.
Whatever you do choose as the citation tool perfect for you and your situation, you can rest assured that your local SEO efforts can and will be rewarded.