What Helps More With Local SEO? Citations or backlinks?

You may be wondering whether citations or backlinks help more with SEO.  Local SEO and traditional SEO are very different. Traditional seo is used to get traffic from search engines on a national level. Whereas, local SEO focuses on improving a website’s search engine position in local search. Local SEO is used to get traffic for specific local keywords and to help businesses get found in Google Maps.

Traditional brick and mortar businesses with a physical location need local SEO services. They aren’t trying to find customers from another state. They need people in their local area to find them when they do a search in Google.

What is Local SEO?

Most small business owners have no idea how Google works. They may have heard that they use an algorithm, but they don’t know how the algorithm works or how complex it is. In the early days of search engines, Google wasn’t nearly as sophisticated. All a website owner needed to do was use some keywords on their page and get some other websites to link to them. Now, Google is much more complex. Ranking well in Google involves over 200 hundred ranking factors.

Google looks at factors on each specific page of your website to determine how well it will rank. How fast does your site load? What is your visitors’ experience like? Is your website mobile-friendly? How many other websites link to your website? Ranking well in Google is complicated.

Local SEO is quite different from traditional SEO. An SEO expert that doesn’t understand the dynamics of local SEO will not be able to help your business rank well in local search, even if they are knowledgeable about search engines..

Google uses different factors for ranking local search, including your Google My Business profile, backlinks, the number of Google reviews and online reviews you have, the number and quality of business citations you have, click-through rate, and social media profile activity.

Why is local SEO important?

Ranking well in local search is critical for small businesses. If your customers can’t find you in Google, you are losing potential revenue.

When you do a search in Google, ads are displayed at the top of almost every page. Any listings below the top 3 results in Google Maps (known as the map pack) are often overlooked. This is why businesses usually need the help of an SEO company if they want to be found in Google.

If you hire a local SEO company, their goal is to get your business positioned at the top of Google Maps for the keywords your customers are searching for.

business owner discussing seo strategy

But how does an SEO company get a business to the top of Google Maps? Google uses several factors to determine where to place businesses in search results and in Google Maps. Ranking well in Google Maps requires different SEO practices than ranking well in traditional search. Most local SEO companies understand how to get a business to rank well inGoogle Maps. One of the ways they do it is through building citations for a business.

What are citations?

Citations are any mention of your business’ name, address and phone number on a website. Google looks at how many websites mention your business’ name, address, and phone number. Business directories are one of the best ways to build citations. The number of citations your business has is one of the most important factors in how well you will rank in Google Maps. This is why most SEO companies focus heavily on building and managing citations for business.

Business directories are a great way to get your company name, address, and phone number mentioned. Some business directories have more value than others and are trusted sources that Google, Bing, and Yahoo use to determine where to place a business in their Map. Yelp, Manta, Bing Places, and Angie’s List are a few of the most popular and trusted directories.

Why do you need citations and how many do you need?

Any business that wants to be found in Google Maps needs to have citations. But, how many do you need and how important are they?

Citations are certainly important, but more citations doesn’t necessarily mean better results in Google. According to an SEO citation study by Brightlocal, businesses listed in the top 10 spot in Google average around 81 citations.

A lot of SEO companies will spend most of their time building and maintaining a business’ citations. Citations are a foundation of local SEO, but they are not the most important ranking factor for local search queries. According to Moz, citations are the fifth most important ranking factor for local search. Backlinks are still much more important for local search than citations.

Will having more citations help you rank better in Google Maps?

Some companies aim for 200 citations or more. While it won’t harm your business to have more citations, provided that they are in quality directories, it’s probably not the best investment for your SEO budget. Once you reach a certain level of citations, adding more is not going to give you a noticeable boost. Your resources should be spent on other areas that will improve your SEO, like on getting backlinks.

What are backlinks?

Backlinks are any link from another website to your website. Backlinks have always been an important ranking factor in Google. If your website doesn’t have backlinks, you probably aren’t going to rank as well, regardless of how many citations you have.

Keep this in mind. Citation directories are easy to get into. Most are free and any business that wants to get listed in a ton of citation directories can accomplish this. Link building, on the other hand, is one of the most challenging aspects of SEO.

woman looking for citations in Google

Websites don’t like to link to businesses. They prefer to link to content like blog posts, articles and infographics.. If your website doesn’t have any content, it’s going to be much harder for you to get another website to link to you. What that means for business owners, is they need an SEO company that has the resources and relationships to get other websites to link to your business.

Which are more important citations or backlinks?

Both are important. Backlinks, however, may be more important for businesses than citations. Citations are easy to get and easy to keep. A business that wants to beat their competition needs to do more than just get listed in tons of citation directories. They need an SEO company that can help them develop a well-rounded SEO strategy that includes citations, content, and backlinks.

If you would like help with your SEO strategy or would like to work with an SEO company that will specifically work on helping your business rank better in Google Maps, set up a free consultation with me and we can discuss your business goals.

Patty Malowney, Badass Web Designer in Albuquerque, New Mexico

I am Patty Malowney, the creator of Badass Web Goddess. I am an Albuquerque SEO and digital marketing consultant.  I started my first internet business in 2004 with a $40 garage sale computer and a whole lot of determination.  I sold my first website, JustMommies.com to the dating company eHarmony.com in 2008. My website was acquired by another company where I worked as a consultant and editor until July, 2019.

After encouragement from friends and family, I decided to branch out on my own and start my own consulting business.  I offer advice and services to local businesses on how they can rank better in Google.

In addition to running Badass Web Goddess, I am an avid blogger. I run several blogs including my internet marketing blog here at Badass Web Goddess.  If you love my blog, Follow Me on Facebook or Twitter!

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