Gone are the days of sifting through telephone books to find a local business. Now, most of us just turn our phones, tablets, or computers and search for what we need online. This has given rise to the SEO phenomenon known as local citations.
What are local citations?
Local citations serve the same purpose as phone book listings. They provide useful information about a business, including name, address, phone number, email, website URL, and reviews, making it easy for locals to find a particular business or service in their area.
They are especially helpful for individuals searching for a dentist online. In fact, when searching for a practice (or any type of business), 86% of people use Google Maps. With so many different practices in a given neighborhood, it can be quite a daunting task for patients to decide who to visit. Citations take the guessing game out of the equation and present the top local choices for patients searching for a “dentist near me”.
Types of citations
A citation will generally fall into one of two categories: structured or unstructured.
Structured citations are similar to what you would find in a traditional business directory. These are your typical Yellow Pages, Yelp, and Google Map listings. Business owners have control over the information that is presented in their citations and can make updates when necessary.
Conversely, unstructured citations are business mentions that appear elsewhere, such as on a blog, news website, social media platforms, and the like.
What information should you include in your citations?
The information provided on a local citation can vary from business to business, but it is critical to include the business’ name, address, and phone number, which is referred to as your “NAP”. A citation that does not include all three of these is sometimes referred to as a partial citation.
You’ll sometimes hear people talk about a NAPW or a UNAP citation as well. The “W” refers to Website and the “U” refers to URL. While not necessary, providing a website link in your citation helps increase your authority and makes it easier for search engines to authenticate your information and connect citations across the web back to your site.
Why citations are important for your practice
Citations are essential to every local SEO strategy. They provide a starting point for your marketing campaign and pave the way for the more complex local SEO tactics, like keyword optimization, paid search, and reputation management. And of all the SEO tactics you can implement to attract local customers, citation building is one of the quickest and easiest.
Having multiple accurate and consistent citations across the web helps increase your online visibility, establish local authority in your field of business, and rank high for local search. According to recent statistics, businesses that rank in the first position for a local keyword have an average of 86 citations and those that rank in the top three positions have an average of 85 citations. Overall, the top three businesses listed on a results page have a greater number of citations than those ranking on position four or lower.
In a nutshell, citations help get more customers through your door because they:
Build trust and create authority
To a search engine, a citation acts as a form of authentication to ensure the business is legitimate. By listing your business on top citation sites, especially those for your line of work, you’ll build authority and establish trust with search engines like Google and Bing.
Establish local relevancy
The goal of any local SEO campaign is to make your business known to potential customers in your area and turn that curiosity into conversions. Building citations on local business sites helps businesses create local relevance, and over time establish more authority.
Improve local search rankings
Citations have a huge impact on local search rankings. Similar to the way link building works, the more listings you have, the more authority you build.
Domain authority: What citation sites should you list your practice on?
Relevance is key when determining what sites to cite your practice on. Aside from top players like Google, Bing, and Yelp, you’ll also want to ensure your practice is cited on popular health and dentistry websites that patients frequent when searching for a provider. Below are the top citation sites we recommend for dentists:
Making sure your listings have accurate and consistent information across citation platforms is extremely important. Inconsistencies in the information provided or multiple listings on one citation site can not only lead to the loss of prospective patients, it can affect how you rank for local search.
Go through the sites you are cited on or enlist the help of an experienced digital marketing team to do so, then update your listings as needed and delete duplicates.
How to build citations
Building citations is a time-consuming process. If you are going to tackle the feat yourself, it’s important to dedicate ample time to ensure it’s done correctly or outsource the work to a trusted and credible service provider.
Tips for building citations:
- Create a business email – We strongly recommend that you use a business email that includes your practice website’s domain instead of a generic Gmail or Yahoo address. Your listings are far more likely to be trusted and published online when you feature a domain-based email.
- Maintain consistency and accuracy – Your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) should be correct and consistent on every site. The way your information is displayed or formatted doesn’t affect your listings, but it’s important to make sure the contact information itself is accurate and that no variations (such as your call tracking phone numbers) appear on citation sites.
- Choose the right category – As with NAP, consistency is key when selecting your business “category”. Try to be as specific as possible. For example, choose “orthodontist” if that’s your specialty versus “dentist”.
- Enhance your profile – Don’t limit the information on citations to just NAP. Provide additional details, like photos, practice logo, operating hours, links to your social media accounts, etc. to prevent the prospective patient from questioning your credibility.
- Claim your listings – Most websites require that listings be verified by the business owner, which can be done via email or, for more prominent sites like Google or Yahoo, by phone. It’s important not to skip this step, as verified listings have greater authority than unverified listings.
Need help building local citations?
Citation building can be a long and tedious process. Conversion Whale is here to make things easy and simple for you. Our company uses a proven and trusted citation building software that can automate all your citations to be consistent and correct. We also make sure your citations are in the most important directories in the dental industry. Contact us for more information on citation building for the dental industry.