In large part, local SEO hinges on what other people are saying about you. When other websites reference your company or link to one of your pages, you’re building backlinks and local citations that help solidify and improve your local SEO rankings.
Both of these are desirable, and both can be improved with some smart moves. Let’s talk about the difference between backlinks and local citations, and why you should care.
Backlinks vs. Local Citations: Defining Terms
Before we dive straight into all the technical talk about backlinks and local citations, let’s first square away the definitions.
Backlinks are simply links on other websites that link to your website. When a local blogger or the chamber of commerce links their readers to your site, that’s a backlink in your eyes – and Google’s.
Local citations include any mention of your company without linking. It doesn’t have to be one of those MLA citations from English lit. When another site mentions your name, phone number, address, or any combination thereof, they’ve cited your company.
How Do Backlinks Help Local SEO?
Search engines look at backlinks as a sign of credibility and authority. If people are happy to link to your site, clearly you’re doing something right. Google can sense your authority in your field. You also look credible, because people are using your site as a source of information.
So how do you build great backlinks?
- Create valuable content. Reputable sites are unlikely to link to content that’s boring, tired, or just plain bad. Build the content, the backlinks will come.
- Link to the backlink sources you want. Never hurts to get the ball rolling! Talk up the sites that you wish would link to you, and they’ll notice.
- Disavow bad backlinks. Once your site garners some attention, you might see low-quality websites linking to you. Don’t let them soil your reputation. Google and Bing let you exclude unwanted backlinks from SEO consideration.
How Do Local Citations Help SEO?
Citations show prominence, authenticity, and relevance so the search engines can feel confident about leading local searchers to you.
Citations are even more controllable than backlinks:
- Submit your NAP to directories. Target national websites with local listings, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Manta — as well as industry websites like WebMD, NKBA, NRCA, Angie’s List, etc.
- Make your NAP uniform. You want your name, address, and phone number listed in many places with all the information appearing the same in each instance. (Inc., LLC, Suite No., all those little parts should appear the same everywhere.) This makes for a clean, repeated citation that search engines can easily interpret and verify.
The SEO Value of Backlinks and Local Citations
Citations are crucial for local businesses who want to be found by local searchers. Backlinks help build authority and traffic, and should also be actively massaged for the best SEO results.
Citations provide more benefit for the effort, but quality backlinks can be quite the boon. Ultimately, you need to consider both as part of your local SEO strategy.
Affordable SEO for Small Businesses from Rank First Local
At Rank First Local, we provide affordable SEO for small businesses. As a small business owner with a limited marketing budget, you need to see a measurable ROI from your Internet marketing campaign if you wish to compete with local competitors on the web – we can help.