Ten-plus years ago, if you just had more structured business citations than your local competitors, regardless of the quality of the sites, you out-ranked them in Google Maps. But this is no longer the case since Google’s algorithm has gotten more sophisticated.
Today, the quantity of business citations does not matter nearly as much as having citations on the correct sites, those considered the most trustworthy and authoritative by Google. A good rule of thumb is to at least be in the ones your competitors are in, plus a few more, of the most authoritative and trustworthy.
Be sure to read the rest of this article because I will break this down more specifically and give you some important points that will give you an advantage.
What Are The Most Important Business Citations To Get?
So the short answer is the most important citations to get are those you get on the city or neighborhood-specific sites in the area where your business is located. This is even more important than getting industry-specific citations if you want to rank in the Google Maps 3 pack. It is all about showing you are relevant to your city.
For example, the above image is a blog with a section all about moving to Austin, TX. They even have pages talking about specific neighborhoods in Austin. There are also websites all about things to do in Austin, TX.
One thing I should point out here is neither of these two Austin sites have traditional business directories. So, if you get a citation mention, it will be an “unstructured citation,” which means your business name, address, and phone number will be listed as text in an article rather than in a business profile. These are the best kind to get. If you can also get a link to your website, these are powerful backlinks.
Local structured citations like a city business directory are extremely important to be in as well. Any website dedicated to your town makes you relevant in that town. Even paid citations like for your local chamber of commerce help make you relevant in your city.
If location-specific sites are the most important to have citations on, then industry-specific sites would be the second most important. Third would be high authority business directories that Google trusts, such as Bing, Yelp, and Apple Maps. My favorite list of these third most important citations to be in is this list here by BrightLocal.com.
Why The Quantity Of Citations Doesn’t Matter
The whole purpose of citations to Google is they want a third-party way to verify that the NAP information on a business’s website is accurate. They don’t want to show scam businesses in their Maps search, and they don’t want people looking up directions in Google Maps to the wrong address.
So Google looks to websites it trusts, such as this in the above Yelp image, for business citations to verify that the NAP info on a business’s website is correct. For location, it looks to the most trustworthy city websites; for NAP accuracy, it looks to the most authoritative social media and business directory sites it knows of. Sites that it knows are popular and that keep their business information current and accurate.
So Google would much rather find the NAP information on a few websites that it trusts than on a bunch of websites it doesn’t. The only reason quantity matters is that if a business has fewer citations than is normal for someone in their industry or no citations on sites most in your industry are in, Google wonders if you are less reputable than your competitors.
How Many Business Citations Should You Get?
As I said above, the general rule of thumb is to get in everyone that your competitors are in, that is authoritative and trusted, plus a few more. However, there is really more to the story than just that.
In local SEO, many citations also come with a link back to your website. Some are do-follow, and some are no-follow. You want a good mix of both.
The more backlinks you can get to your site from structured and unstructured authoritative citation sources, the higher your rank on Google. So, from a backlink perspective, you want as many quality authoritative ones as you can get. Avoid spammy backlinks (backlinks from unrelated or poor-quality sites) like the plague.
Remember, the best backlinks are contextual links from city and industry-related sites; the higher the Domain Authority, the better.
Well, that is pretty much it on business citation quantity. Hopefully, you have learned something and gotten benefits out of this article.
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