A citation is a powerful vote of confidence that strengthens your real estate website’s position online. Still, when struggling with local real estate SEO, agents usually try plenty of techniques but overlook this important one. If you really want to lay the groundwork for a well-optimized local website that ranks high, local citations are an extremely valuable investment of your time.
With competition from both local brokerages and large property portals getting tougher online, the question of local real estate SEO has never been so hot. Like it or not, you’ll find yourself dragged into this discussion sooner or latter. Well, if you want to rank well and get online leads.
SEO experts found out that quality, trustworthy citations are among the top ranking factors that define a website’s position in local search results. They are also the major element of the ranking algorithms used by Google and Bing.
In this post, we’ll outline what a citation are, why they are so important for your website’s authority and how to get more of them.
So what exactly are citations?
A citation is any mention of your business name anywhere on the Web, i.e. on any third-party sites. It could be just your business name or both the business name and address. Contrary to common view, citations do not necessarily include a link pointing back to your site.
An example of a citation can be a listing in a local yellow pages directory, even if it doesn’t link back to you. Likewise, other examples of popular citation sources are:
- local, national and international business directories;
- local chamber of commerce website;
- convention and visitor bureaus;
- local business associations websites;
- tourism authorities websites;
- local media websites, etc.
Provided that all the other ranking factors are equal, websites that have more citations typically rank higher than websites with fewer mentions. However, not every citation is considered equal. You should only aim at getting citations from trustworthy, established sites that are known to search engines as credible sources of information. Once you get yourself mentioned, part of this credibility will be associated with your business as well.
P.S. Remember that it’s extremely important that your name, address and phone number (NAP) is consistent everywhere on the Web.
What benefits do citations carry for local real estate SEO?
One of citations’ most remarkable benefits is that they make your website more trustworthy and authoritative. Indeed, it’s difficult to fake a participation in the city’s chamber of commerce or being mentioned in a local newspaper report.
Some other huge benefits citations deliver are no less significant:
- boosting your Google Maps visibility. For example, a person located in your area searches for a “real estate agent” in Google Maps. If you have some citations, Google typically lists your site higher in the search results;
- strengthening your domain authority. Getting citations on high-quality sites positively affects domain authority. Search engines understand that the site is helpful and relevant, since even big sites mention it (or link back to it). Typically, this means that you can now see yourself ranking higher for long-tail queries (i.e., 4+ word long terms). Same goes for broader queries that go beyond the boundaries of just local;
- increasing overall local rankings. For example, if someone searches for “estate agent New York”, “estate agent Manhattan” or “estate agents near me” (and you happen to be nearby), Google typically lists you higher for these queries;
- driving more quality traffic. Imagine having your website mentioned on big sites that get hundreds of visitors each day. This opens up new opportunities for lead generation and sends more traffic to your website;
- getting strong anchor text. Some of the sites not only mention your business name, they are also ready to link back to some of your pages, e.g. neighborhood pages. If you manage to get a relevant, meaningful phrase as an anchor, it’s a great boost for local real estate SEO. (Don’t get too disappointed if you don’t – reaching out to site owners can be a lengthy process.)
Aren’t these benefits huge? Citations certainly deserve to be thrown into your online marketing mix asap.
How to get more quality citations?
Now that you better understand the value citations deliver to the local real estate SEO, let’s see where to get them.
Use large property portals
Depending on your country, you may already know a bunch of big portals that you can advertise on. For example, the top 10 citation sources for realtors in the US are realtor.com, yellowpages.com, trulia.com, homes.com, zillow.com, homegain.com, local.yahoo.com, coldwellbanker.com, facebook.com, angieslist.com.
Getting a citation on websites like these is fairly easy. They all encourage agents to create their profiles. Just go ahead and set up one for yourself.
Search for competitors’ business names
The next thing is to do a search for your competitors’ names or any other company working in your region. You can also add your city or area to the search query. This is an easy way to quickly find where these businesses are mentioned. If these citation sources fall into your category as well, go ahead and try to win a citation there too.
Google your city or region by itself
Once you do a search for your territory, you’ll get plenty of places that mention it. Some of the sites may describe the area at large and others will list local businesses. You can also try adding the word “listings” to your query and get even broader results.
Use alert tools
Doing all these searches manually can be time-consuming. One way to simplify things a little is to use alert tools like Talkwalker, Mention or Google Alerts. Just set up your notifications with the businesses’ names and get to know which news sites, forums or local blogs talk about local companies in your area.
Local and industry directories
These sites are usually well-indexed by search engines which makes them notable in terms of local real estate SEO. Local directories, like local blogs that accept guest posts, are strongly associated with your area so that’s an excellent way to secure yourself a citation.
Industry directories, even if they’re not immediately associated with your area, still carry a huge value. If the site is popular among industry players, local search engines will crawl it often because it’s relevant for industry members all around the country.
[Related post: SEO for Real Estate: a Definitive Guide to Local Link Building]
Citations are fundamental to local real estate SEO. If you lack these important indications of your credibility, your local rankings will not live up to your expectations. Make sure to secure yourself plenty of citations so your website is easily found by people and search engines.