Google Business Citations Simplified
Are Google Citations an important part of ranking higher within Google Local Search?
The quick answer is that it certainly doesn’t hurt! This is one of the most commonly asked questions from small business owners who want to be within the top rankings.
Everyone wants to know about Google Citations because it seems to be all the buzz. So, there are some questions that go along with it… what are they and how are they used?
If you are a small business and want to get on page 1 in Google Places (and why wouldn’t you?), Google Citations are an important element towards getting into the top ranks.You’re quickly going to find out what it is and why they’re so important.
First things first. What is a Google Citation?
A Google Citation is a simple listing of your name, address and phone number for your business as Google would see it on the internet. It’s also abbreviated as NAP.
Once you claimed your Google Places listing (it’s free) and filled out the details, you provided Google with all of this information. It’s what makes up your business listing.
Why is a Citation Important?
Well, if you know a bit about SEO or search engine optimization, you know that backlinks to your web pages are vital to ranking higher in all of the Google organic search results. A backlink is easier than it sounds – it’s a link that goes back to a web page of yours, and comes from another website. More backlinks, particularly with your keywords anchored within the link, will help you to rank higher on those keywords. This means it will help you rank higher, even if the pages on your website aren’t perfectly optimized.
What this means is that a citation will give you a great backlink, and this helps Google to rank you higher within its own search engine.
The Difference between Google Citations and Backlinks?
Citations and links are powerful signals that play a major role when it comes to local and organic search rankings. Understanding the differences between the two is important for anyone looking to maximize their site’s visibility for localized keywords. Failing to understand the difference between the two terms means that you won’t be visible online as you could be or you won’t be visible completely (at least not on the first page of Google search results).
A backlink describes a link on another website that links to your website. For instance, when a blogger links his/her readers to your site. On the other hand, Google citation refers any mention of your business without linking. If a site mentions your name, phone number or address, they’ve cited your company in your eyes and Google’s.
Does Google trust that your business?
Google constantly checks that all the websites that appear on the first page of search results are trustworthy. They do this to give the users a better experience as they go about their online activities. If there are enough reasons for Google to trust your company, you will be given a prime placement in the search results.
Google’s “search engine spider” only depends on what it sees online, therefore, the more consistent the NAP information they find on the internet, the more they trust that you are a legitimate business in your industry and niche.
How do you know if Google Trusts your Business?
The most effective way of knowing what Google thinks of your site is through your rankings. Open Site Explorer is one of the best tools that can help you get this information. Put your website into the search field, and you will be presented with a report that includes your Domain and Page authority. Both the domain and page authority are rated between 0-100.
It is important to mention that Google will not trust your local business listing if the NAP information is not consistent throughout the internet. When a local business changes location, business names, or phone numbers, its listing is greatly affected. This is because Google’s “search engine spider” sees conflicting information around the web.
As stated earlier on, citation is a mention of your business (name, address, and phone number). Google, through its “web crawling bot,” is continually looking for local information that matches the business listing appearing in Google’s local results. The more citations the Googlebot picks up about your business, the more trust rank it will give your website.
Here is an illustration: If you are running a restaurant, Googlebot will pull NAP information from different websites including Yelp, Urban Spoon and so on. If the web crawling bot finds that the information is accurately and consistently listed on these websites, it will consider the listings as citations. And this will positively influence your page ranking.
What to avoid if you Want Credit for Citation
If you use contractions such as rd to mean road, Google may see the two as totally different things.
• St is different from street
• Ste is different from suite
• Ave is different from Avenue in the eyes of Google.
Ensure that the NAP information on your website is similar to the one featuring on your Google listing. Also, come up with a common listing for all the directories that you get listed in.