Any mention online regarding your business information is known as a local citation. Local citations are incredibly important for the success of your law firm’s website. Google uses the prominence and accuracy of local citations to determine which listing gets to show up on it’s “local 3-pack”, the map on search results that displays three listings. The map is generally shown above the organic listings and below the ads. This is why it’s essential that your business information is shown accurately and frequently on the Internet. Local citations will help determine your website’s visibility and online presence.
What constitutes a local citation?
As mentioned above, any information regarding your business can be considered a citation. Your business name, address and phone number (NAP) however, are the most important. At the very minimum, you should have your businesses’ NAP displayed on all prominent directories. Other information that can be helpful for your online presence are:
You do not need your citations hyperlinked for them to apply, just having the information there is sufficient. A nofollow page with your business information on it still counts as a citation as well.
Why are local citations important?
Citations are important because they help search engines like Google or Bing authenticate the legality of your business. If prominent directories such as Yelp displays your business, and has the same information about your business as they do, it helps search engines determine if your business is legitimate.
Another reason why accurate citations are important is because it’s a factor in Google’s search ranking algorithm. If your business information is unreliable, search engines will penalize your website. If your citations aren’t completely accurate, or there are inconsistencies in what your information states, such as a different phone number for different directories, you will be penalized. The reason being, if a user goes to your website and sees one number, then proceeds to a directory and sees a different number, they will be confused as to which is the correct number. Search engines recognize this, and will punish websites who do not have consistent citations.
If you cannot decide the format your citations should be in, a good rule of thumb is: your citations across the Internet should be identical to what’s posted on your Google My Business listing.
How could I improve my citation portfolio?
Now that you know the importance of having accurate citations, the next step is populating the Internet with your citations. You probably already have a listing on Google My Business and Yelp at the very least. Find directories, general or legal-specific, and add your business to it. Sometimes, your listing is already on these directories, because these sites may use crawlers to gather information from search engines to add to their website. If that’s the case, simply claim the page, and update the information to make it as accurate as possible.
You can also check to see where your competitors are going to boost their citation portfolio. WhiteSparks offers a tool called Local Citation Finder, which can help you determine where to add your citations based on your practice area keywords or your competitor’s business name.
Dexter Tam is an Analyst at Custom Legal Marketing and is Google Partner Certified in Adwords.