Since the Google local 3-pack rankings replaced the 7-pack, people have been fighting to get their websites in top three for them to appear on the first page of search engine results.
Citations, are include mentioning of a business name, phone number, or address on other websites, are among the most important factors that help local SEO to achieve their top ranking goal. Google and Bing local Search use the number and citation source quality in the ranking algorithm.
Having accurate citations is a definite must when it comes to local SEO and getting your practice to rank in the Google search. This is especially the case when it comes to Google's relatively new 3-pack listing structure (implemented in late 2015).
Citations are one of the most important factors for Google local 3-pack SEO (almost like backlinks for organic SEO) because Google looks at the quality and authority of the websites used for citation, and will rank a business accordingly. When you have your basic citations aligned (such as Facebook, Google+, Yelp, etc.,) ideally you want to keep going and build citations that will lend your company greater visibility and authority.
According to Yext.com the top directories and sources of citations are: Google+ Local, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yellowpages.com, Yelp, Local.com, WhitePages.com, Manta, SuperPages, and in that order.
Although these directories and citations may not make a significant difference in market areas with no competition, they are crucial in other competitive regions. Besides, they are more important for local businesses that do not own their website. In such cases, Google will pull data from other sites when it cannot get information from an official site.
A standardized process for determining a citation source's quality doesn't really exist. When determining the quality of a citation, there are several things to consider. Among them are: the quality of the link profile, the domain's age and authority, and such simple things like the quality of the look of the website. Is it maintained? Does it look fresh? SEOmoz.org is another great resource for figuring out what determines the quality of citations.
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