Bowling over 3 common myths about citation building for local SEO

June 29, 2017
Mike Friedman

Just like anything else in SEO it seems, there are a lot of myths around citations for local SEO. If you are trying to rank a website locally, make sure you are not falling into any of these traps.

The first myth especially can be a real headache for you if you buy into it.

Read on to learn more.

Myth #1: Your citations must all be uniform and identical.

Truth: This is the biggest myth out there about citations. At one time, there may have been some truth to it, but Google has evolved since then.

It unfortunately is often used as a scare tactic by SEOs and salespeople with services like Yext to make a sale. They tell business owners that if your citations show up with variations in them that this can hurt or even completely impede your chances of ranking locally.

Examples of variations would be some citations using Avenue in the address versus others using Ave. or Av.

You will also hear that variations in the business name in the citations have a negative impact such as Bob’s Auto Repair vs. Bob’s Auto Repair Shop or Jane Smith Legal Practice vs Jane Smith Legal Firm.

Some will even go as far to say that your site will be penalized for discrepancies such as these.

If Google could not understand that Avenue and Ave. are the same thing, there would be so many duplicate listings out there, the local map would look like a total mess in Google.

The same goes with the business names. Google fully understands that Bob’s Auto Repair and Bob’s Auto Repair Shop are the same business, especially when their address and phone number matchup.

A citation is based on three data points: name, address, and phone number, often times referred to as a NAP. If two of these data points are a match, and the third one is pretty close or a partial match, Google will associate those citations with the correct Google My Business listing.

You can see this in action live when an accounting firm or legal firm adds a partner. The name might change from Smith & Jones Accounting to Smith, Jones, & Johnson Accounting. We don’t see a drop in local rankings because all of their citations no longer match.

In many cases, it is not even possible to have your citations all match. Some directories will not allow the use of a suite number or automatically abbreviate things like street and road. Others format phone numbers differently.

Even if you wanted to, it is impossible to make all of your citations uniform across the internet.

Myth #2: If your citations do not include your suite number, that is a big problem.

Truth: I see this one a lot. Not just that your suite number needs to be included in every citation, but also that it must be formatted the same across all of your citations.

Google does not even use suite numbers for many Google business listings. Even if you enter your suite number in your Google My Business listing, it does not get carried over to the Suite # field in Google MapMaker. It just gets dropped.

Google pays more attention to the pin marker of the business than it does to the actual words in an address when determining the location of a business, largely because there can be multiple ways to enter a street address.

It also doesn’t matter if your citations contain variations in the suite such as:

  • 123 Avenue Suite 7
  • 123 Avenue Ste. 7
  • 123 Avenue Suite #7
  • 123 Avenue #7

What Google cares about when it comes to your citations and local listing is that you are at 123 Avenue.

Myth #3: You must have suite or office numbers in your citations if more than one business shares the same building.

Truth: Some believe that by having multiple businesses sharing the same building it will be more difficult for each of them to rank. To combat this, they say you must include a suite or office number and make sure it is in all of your citations.

This is just not true at all. There are thousands of examples out there of businesses sharing buildings without listing suite or office numbers and ranking just fine.

Again, Google cares about the physical address of your location. Not what office you are in at that location.

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