What The Heck Is a Google Places Citation?

google places citationsLocal business owners ask us all the time the same question: “what the %#*& are Google Places citations”?


Then immediately after that question they ask: “… and how can I get more of them?”


The truth of the matter is, if you own a local business and are trying to do affordable SEO, wanting to get on page one for Google Places then Google Places citations are extremely important to you. They may be the most important thing that determines whether you are number two or number 200 in Google Places.


As we discussed many times when it comes to search engine optimization and the importance of back links, Google Places citations are as important to Google Places as backlinks are to SEO.


What Are Google Places Citations?


Simply put, the Google Places citation is the name, address and phone number of a business as Google sees it throughout the Internet. This information is commonly referred to as a NAP.


The most important thing with a NAP is that it shows up consistently in the exact same way throughout all your listings on the Internet.


Why Are Exact Listings in Google Places Citations so Important?


Not only are citations treated like back links in SEO, which as you might know the more back links you have on your website, usually, the better, but they show Google that you are what you say you are.


And when it comes to Google Places citations, Google is completely persnickety about how the citations show up and in turn, how they rank you in your Google Places listing.


Think of a Google Places citation as a validation by the search spiders of Google that your NAP is accurate across all websites and across all directories on the Internet. In fact, the more consistent your NAP information is on all the other directories on the Internet, the higher your Google Places ranking will be.


Simply put, the more consistent your NAP are on each of the other directories outside of Google Places, the more Google will trust you. And as Google is trying to build not only the most powerful and user-friendly search engine in the world, but is also trying to build the most trustworthy search engine in the world.


And for this reason is why accurate citations and “NAPS” are so vitally important.


The most important thing to remember is this:


A Google Places citation is a validation that your business is NAP information is accurate and trustworthy


How Do Google Places Citations Help You Rank Higher in Google Places?


As we said before, local search engine optimization is all about good relevant content or, on page optimization coupled with authority or off page optimization. With Google Places, think of citations as “off page optimization for Google Places“. And a correct NAP on your website as your “on page optimization for Google Places”.


So as you can see, Google citations are extremely important for top rankings in Google Places…as important as back links are to search engine optimization.


Google Places Citations Pitfalls and Watch Outs!


Let’s say for example you will know real estate office and your search engine optimized your real estate website but you have not had a consistent presence on Google Places.


The reason might be that I Google spider has in fact found the NAP for your real estate office, but all the other directories in which you submitted your website to don’t have the same NAP is the one that’s listed on your website.


Remember when I said that Google is extremely persnickety when it comes to Google Places? Well, here’s why….


On your website, you might have this address:


18 Steeple St, Suite 204 Mashpee Commons, MA 02649 508-477-5200


But in your Google Places listing or in any other listing on the Internet, it instead reads:


18 Steeple St, Ste. 204 Mashpee Commons, MA 02649 508-477-5200


Google will penalize you for that minor infraction!


You don’t see the problem?


Here’s the difference between the two addresses:


  • “Suite” is on the first address


  • “Ste.” is on the second address


A seemingly minor difference?


Not to Google!


Google sees these two addresses as two completely different addresses. And more importantly, they see them as inconsistent and untrustorthy.


Bottom line: make sure that the NAP on your website exactly matches the NAP on your Google Places listing as well as any other directory listing on the entire Internet!


How Can You Find Which Google Citations Are Inconsistent?


Here’s the not so good news.


To find out which Google Places citations are inconsistent, the only accurate way to do it is by doing an extensive Google citation search. It’s really the only comprehensive way to figure out which Google Places citations are inconsistent with the NAP on your website.


Although there are some free tools that claim to build a do this automatically like www.whitespark.ca, we have found that the only real way to check is by looking at each individual directory listing individually.


So if you have a current Google Places listing and you have also submitted your website to multiple other directories and listings on the Internet, you may have a lot of work ahead of you. Of course, if you need help in doing this, we are available to help.


The good thing is if you have a new business and have not established yourself on any other directories or on Google Places, the best thing to do is to make sure your NAP is consistently placed on each and every directory that you submit to.


How Can My Google Citations Get Me to the Top of Google Places?


The best thing to do to get your business to the top of Google Places is to do all of your OTHER directories prior to submitting your Google Places listing to Google. When we do it for our customers, we submit their NAP and website to over 80 directories first and then we do Yahoo, Bing and Google Places last.


This is the cleanest and easiest way in which to get your business to the top of Google Places. We then consistently add more and more and more Google citations every single month to keep you on top so you stay on top.


Some super ninja Google Places tricks we’ve learned along the way are as follows:


  • Add your nap to the description box of every video that you do, this includes YouTube, Vimeo, and others


  • Tag all your photos with your name, address and phone number as well and upload these into Google images, Flickr, and any other image websites even including Pinterest


  • Do a Google search for “your industry + directories” and submit your website and the proper NAP to each and every one of those.


  • Do a Google search for “your town or city + directories” and submit your website the proper NAP each one of those directories as well.


True, the more Google citations you get, the better your Google Places listing will be…but just like back linking and off page search engine optimization. Not all Google citations are the same. Some Google citations have more “authority” than others.


The most important thing is that your NAP is consistent along all directories that you also add more directories in Google citations each month to maintain your ranking in Google Places, as well as stave off the competition.


This is critically important since the local search engine optimization market is now extremely competitive for just about every keyword phrase.


And of course, if all this seems completely overwhelming and not something that you’d ever like to do yourself, you can always give us a call and would be happy to help you.


Please leave a comment below and ask us any questions on our search engine optimization services, Google citations, Google Places or the pursuit of world peace.

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