How Important are Citations for Local SEO

Improve Your Web Presence by Building Backlinks and Citations for Local SEO

In this episode, Jesse and Sue explain the value of backlinks and citations for local SEO strategy, and how to find relatively simple and effective ways to build those backlinks for your website. This episode will help you to learn the importance of identifying where to build relevant backlinks to your website, and how those meaningful links will improve your SEO!

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What you’ll learn

  • What is a citation.
  • Why is it important to build citations.
  • How to find great spots to build citations for your business online.

Transcript For How Important Are Citations for Local SEO and Your Business? 134;

Jesse Dolan: If I have, 20, 30 citations for my business and my competitor doesn’t, I look more superior to Google. I should have more trust, more authority, more relevance to Google because I’m out there. Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we’re bringing you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan, here with Sue Ginsburg today.

Sue Ginsburg: Hi.

Jesse Dolan: Looking to answer some questions. No, Bob Brennan. Bob is off doing more important work today, so Sue you and I are going to tackle the question here today by ourselves. Which will be no problem whatsoever. Looking kind of hazy and twilighty in the background there. Where are you at virtually today sue?

Sue Ginsburg: It probably is a little bit hazy and twilighty. Today coming to you virtually from Portland, Oregon, where our listener who ask the question we’ll be discussing is located. Nick from Portland, Oregon thank you for your question. Ready for the question, Jesse?

Jesse Dolan: Let’s go.

Sue Ginsburg: Okay. Question from Nick is, “How important are a to SEO? And can you use Google Search to find all the citations of your business?” With that quote of the day, “Technology is nothing what’s important is that you have a faith in people that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” That quote is from technology geek himself, Steve Jobs.

Jesse Dolan: Nice.

Sue Ginsburg: Pretty cool to hear him say technology is nothing. It’s all about what people do with it.

Jesse Dolan: Right.

Sue Ginsburg: So a lot of business owners that we speak with share that other SEO firms that they have spoken to recommend backlinks as an SEO strategy. They want to know if that works, if we believe in it, and if in fact it works to get as many backlinks as you can, in order to get Google to consider you rank you high, et cetera, et cetera? While our strategy includes backlinks as part of it, our work is much broader than just getting backlinks. This question gets us into the conversation of the role that backlinks and citations play and how you find out what citations your business has? How do you find out what ones you should have, et cetera, et cetera? Since this question is come up more than a few times, it tells me that a lot of business owners can benefit from knowing the answer to it, so that’s why I thought this is a good listener question for today.

Just say, you’re a business owner, redoing your website or updating your website and you want to do things that’ll get it to rank higher in more searches. Some questions you may be asking are, “Is backlinks the answer? Is it part of the answer? How do you get backlinks? What are the best backlinks? Are there bad backlinks, et cetera?” Great to have these questions so you can help your website show up in more searches and higher in searches. The challenge is you don’t know the answers. Of course you don’t. You’re an expert in your business and not in backlinks and SEO.

You understand that knowing these things is important to getting you found and you want to know the answers, you just don’t have time, maybe interest, and you don’t want to become an SEO expert, that’s not your job. You can Google it. You can ask Siri, find a trustworthy SEO expert or ask them to optimize your website. So it works and you rank higher and or found in more searches. If this sounds like you, then today’s your lucky day. Jesse is an SEO expert and he can share his expertise on backlinks and help answer the question about it and its role in SEO here today.

Jesse Dolan: Right on. So couple things to unpack there. I think yeah, backlinks are important. Backlinks are a key part of the Google algorithm here still today, October 21, 2021, just to timestamp it. Yeah, they’re important, but you can overdo a good thing. Too much of a good thing here. Now there’s a lot of camps out there, if you just Google, SEO tactics, things like that whatever, you’re going to find a lot of people that all they do is focus on backlinks. Yes, that will work. Anything I’m going to say here, I’m not discrediting that. We just go a little bit more organic. kind of hopefully a little more future proof focusing on the website and kind of more natural type stuff. Most of the client that we deal with, Sue directly, and the audience for everybody that listening out here is local business.

So we’re not talking eCommerce national brands, gigantic websites, information websites, things like that. In all those spaces, backlinking strategies may be necessary. They may be more effective. There’s again, classic SEOs, like it all depends. That’s kind of true with this here too. Now, if you are a local business, yeah you want backlinks. We don’t say go out and buy backlinks or just getting backlinks for the sake of getting them. What you want is good natural or in our opinion, good, natural or backlinks. They should have two things that they kind of do for you, or one of two things, at least. Be local to your area or the areas that you’re providing services and products in, and be relevant to your brand and your niche, and your services and things like that. So they either got to be niche relevant or locally relevant backlinks. An easy way to do that is to focus on citations. We do have an episode, Sue. I pulled it up here, it’s episode 67, where you’re talking-

Sue Ginsburg: Great.

Jesse Dolan: … for everybody. That at when is how to build citations for a business yourself or with local citation services. So there are services you can pay. You can just Google it online and, and listen to that episode that can help you do some of this stuff to build citations. Or we have some tips in there how to go do it yourself. But the point on this is a citation first the mystery of what it is a citation? How important are they? Things like that. Citations are listings of your business on another website, just kind of as a basic description of it here. Yelp, that can be a citation for your business. Better Business Bureau, is a citation MapQuest, Tripadvisor. It kind of depends on your industry and what you’re doing. Some of these may or may not apply. But basically a third party website. So a website that’s not yours, listing your name, your address, your phone number, business description, link to your website, things like that.

Now, citations, that’s kind of a broad terminology. Maybe not every is going to give you an actual backlink, from their site back to yours. That’s okay. As a rule here again, how important are citations to SEO? Citations are very important. It gets you out there. It gets you more exposure. Let’s just take Yelp for example, which people love to hate, and I’m not disagreeing with that at all. If you do a search for your product or service in your city, if Yelp is showing up in the top few results, you probably want to be in Yelp, because they’re getting some traffic, they’re getting some exposure and you want to be in that mix.

Now, in addition to getting the direct traffic from Yelp or the direct opportunities from Yelp in that way, you’re also creating a profile, a citation within Yelp, and Google’s going to see that. That’s going to be one more mention of you online that Google can then track back to you. Again, one of these all things being equal, if I have, 20, 30 citations for my business and my competitor, doesn’t, I look more superior to Google. I should have more trust, more authority, more relevance to Google because I’m out there. Google’s looking for things, what makes a good business, a natural business? Well being at the Chamber of Commerce, being in the BBB, being listed in Yelp. These seem like things that a legitimate successful business would do. If I’m doing that, but a competitor is not, I should seem like a better choice for Google to show me in search results.

So that’s why citations are important. Yes, you get the backlink. But even if you don’t get the backlink out of something… Let’s just pretend Yelp didn’t link to your website. It’s still going to be good. Right? It’s still going to be good. Again, check out that episode 67, we talk into how to find the right citations, and what makes it for a good citation, so you kind of know where to start. Now the other part of it you’re talking about here, Sue, and your question is “Can you use Google Search to find the citations for your business?” We’ll dive a little deeper in that episode, 67, but the short answer for you is yes. If you have a competitor that you’re really trying to catch up to just do a search for their brand. If they have multiple locations, do a search for their brand, plus the city to get the exact one and see where they’re listed. You’re going to see, see their website probably up towards the top of the results.

Then you should see like a Yelp, a BBB. These kinds of places we’re talking about. Make a record of what they are showing up. I’m sorry. I said that wrong. Make a record of what third party websites are showing up that they’re listed in. You’re going to want to try to get listed in those as well. Then similarly, do a search for your product or your service in that local area. Is there again other third party websites. Not competitor websites, but some kind of a directory, or listing, or a list of businesses, things like that, that you can get in as well. So short answer, yeah you can use Google Search. That’s just some quick tips on how, how to use Google Search to find where you should be listed in citations.

Again for a deeper dive on that… Let me see how long is the episode here on this one? It doesn’t say offhand there. I think it’s probably like a 20 to 30 minute episode if I remember correctly. We do explore a couple more layers of betting out some citations and what to do there. But yeah, if this is not an area that you’ve explored for your business, you’re definitely going to want to do it. Like I said, you’re going to get that double dip of kind of building your authority within Google, by expanding your brand prominence and exposure. You’re also going to get some direct leads in business from this. Because if Yelp is ranking one, two, or three, they’re getting some traffic and you might as well get in the game there and get some leads from them.

You can do Yelp for free. By the way, I’m not talking about paying the Yelp fees, that’s a whole different situation. But you got to be in it to win it. So that should answer your question there. Sue. Long story short citations are definitely important. That should be one of your key things you’re doing for SEO, not just on your website, focusing on keywords, you got to build these citations too.

Sue Ginsburg: Well, I think you just gave a great tip for anybody. Who’s wondering where they should get citations by searching your, your competitors or even-

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Sue Ginsburg: … switching in your city and seeing what pops up that is a great tip.

Jesse Dolan: Absolutely. Yeah. it’s kind of low hanging fruit and that’s something you can delegate to people too. Just make a list of these places. Then let’s contact them and get listed. A lot of this is going to be free. Like to be accredited on the BBB. I forget the amount, but you have to pay a fee. But a lot of these it’s just going to take your sweat equity and your time to get listed and set up your profiles within these.

Sue Ginsburg: So you mentioned good citation is, if it’s relevant to you and if it’s local. Won’t you get citations also from publishing an article or even a blog post somewhere else?

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, potentially. So, that’s a true definition of the word citation, is kind of more in that academic realm. Like I got a paper and I’m citing an example and the citation is maybe done at the bottom or whatever. I wouldn’t say that’s exactly the same way that we’re using it here. Within the realm of local SEO, and things like that, citations are really places that allow you to… name, address, phone number, linked to website, right?

Sue Ginsburg: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jesse Dolan: Something like that. What you’re saying, yeah definitely could be folded into the same conversation. That might be more of just straight up backlink, kind of a deal but yeah, anywhere… This is kind of a different topic on getting backlinks, for your business, but just to kind of expand on your point is, anywhere that you’re engaged with again, another third party. It could be an organization, maybe just some random website you did a blog post on.

If you have some kind of presence out there online getting a link back to your website from that page or from that website would be definitely something to go after. A lot of this is manual, that’s kind of the tricky part. You’d have to aware that you did that blog post your talking… Then you’d have to be aware did they actually mention you and link back to you, or give your information or not? If they don’t, you may have to contact them and ask for that to be placed there, but it’ll be worth the effort.

Sue Ginsburg: One of our clients recently won a couple different awards and was asking us how can he optimized those awards? In addition to putting them on his website. He ended up contacting the award sponsor, whatever the organizing business, and asking if they would please put a link to his website when they were announcing the award on the website. Which they did-

Jesse Dolan: Perfect.

Sue Ginsburg: So he asked and he got it.

Jesse Dolan: That’s what it’s going to take. Sometimes you at being educated on SEO, understand the value of these things. Whereas just a “Normal business person”, they think they’re doing a great job just promoting you, which they are. But knowing SEO, you know that getting that backlink is extremely valuable, even if people never see that award or that mention on that website, Google will see that backlink and you’ll get credit for that for a long time.

Sue Ginsburg: What about the difference in a .edu backlink versus some other business or something else?

Jesse Dolan: Yeah, I guess a good way to summarize that is the rarer it is the better, the more difficult it would be to obtain the better. That’s typically why like an EDU or something ha has been put up on a pedestals. You just can’t go create your own college and big EDU website with all that authority and then give yourself backlinks. People can go create PBNs, private backlinking networks, buy a bunch of domains, put a bunch of content, link it all together. Now you’ve got this death star that you can point somewhere with. With backlinks it’s hard to do that within government or education realm, things like that. So that’s why the EDU has always been kind of known to be more prized. You just really can’t fake it, and it’s then more valuable because Google understands that at the end of the day.

Sue Ginsburg: Well, it’s great. Really good. Very valuable.

Jesse Dolan: Yeah.

Sue Ginsburg: Some good tidbits there. Anything else Jesse or?

Jesse Dolan: I don’t think so again, just one more time, I’d say if this stuff was kind of sparking some thoughts in your brain, connecting some synapses, check out that episode 67. We do a little bit deeper dive into some of this stuff, and also talk about third party services that can help you push an easy button to get this done, which obviously we can help you do that as well, too.

Sue Ginsburg: Okay. If you remember one thing and one thing only from this episode, there are different SEO strategies to get found online and backlinks is one piece of SEO strategy. Working with it as one piece of SEO strategy in a broader sense is much more sustainable than just having a backlink strategy. Backlinks are important and you heard Jesse talk about why, and some tips along the lines of why it’s important? So definitely worth looking into your backlink citation and asking the right questions to get you to get you stronger and more impactful SEO.

Jesse Dolan: Yep.

Sue Ginsburg: Back to the quote of the day, “Technology is nothing.” What’s important is that you have faith in people and that they’re basically good and smart. If you give them the tools, they will ll do wonderful things with them. So from us and from Steve Jobs, we just gave you a tool, go do wonderful things with them.

Jesse Dolan: Yep. Do yourself a favor, get some citations. If you have a question out there, if you’re listening, whether it be on citations or backlinks… if this episode itself maybe spurs some thought you want us to dive deeper into, or if it just reminds you that you’ve got something that’s been on your mind for SEO, reach out to us, Scroll down to the bottom, click the link for submit a question and let us know what question you have and we’ll answer it on the show. We’ll give you a shout out.

If you call in to record that, there’ll be information on how to do that there as well. We’ll send you off a free t-shirt in the U.S. Postal Service mail. You can be the envy of your entire neighborhood, with your new Intrycks t-shirt. Great question, Sue, as always awesome quote too. I think that was a pretty good one and appreciate the insights from you as well. All right, everybody, I think that wraps it up for this episode. Catch you next week. Take care.

Sue Ginsburg: See ya.

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