Local Citations and Their Effect on Ranking

 

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DO LOCAL CITATIONS INCREASE GOOGLE MAPS RANKING?

The answer may surprise you. Submitting business information to search directories and data aggregators is a task often recommended to businesses looking to increase their local presence. But how effective is it and how quickly can you expect results? We tested our hypothesis using locations from Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.

First, What Are Local Citations?

Local citations are a reference on another website that lists your name, address, and phone number (NAP). Google crawls the internet for local information that matches the business listing that appears on Google Maps. If a business has several citations that match the maps listing, Google places more authority on that location. Citations help searchers discover local businesses as well as impact local search engine rankings.

Background

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop opened its doors in Fort Worth, TX in 2003 and has expanded to 150+ locations nationwide. We selected two locations in Charlotte, NC for this case study. One would serve as the control location and the other served as the test location, for which we submitted business information to 20 search directories. Note also that In the website field for each directory, instead of using the location website, we created backlinks to the profile by using the Google Maps url. 



The Test

Monthly keyword rank scans were run to gauge local presence not just at the business address, but across the local service area of the business as well. “Tacos near me” and “ Mexican Restaurant near me” were the two top keywords for this business and were chosen for the test. 

The Hypothesis

The prevailing wisdom says “directory citations are dead.” Therefore, submitting business information to search directories should not affect local rank. BUT while you can’t rely on a lab test environment (there’s no perfectly controlled test in the real world of search,) we know that more complete and consistent data tends to win in the rankings. So, we weren’t sure, but we wanted to show that submitting directory citations creates a complete and consistent profile and WOULD impact search results. We thought the locations with directory submissions would earn better search results.

The Results

 

TEST 1 for keyword “TACOS NEAR ME”

 

Here’s the BEFORE AND AFTER  on the CONTROL LOCATION (where no directory submissions were made) 

BEFORE 10-18-2019

Monthly Keyword Scans performed by Local Falcon




AFTER 12-19-2019

Monthly Keyword Scans performed by Local Falcon

 

The control listing saw some increase, ARP went from 6th to 5th, but nothing significant here. Slight changes like this are often seen due to regular market and season changes. Next month the rank could dip back to 6th or out of the top 10 entirely. This is why it’s important to consistently perform optimizations on a listing by uploading weekly content and submitting citations to search directories.

 

Here’s the BEFORE AND AFTER  on the TEST LOCATION (where directory submissions were made) 

 

BEFORE 10-18-19

Monthly Keyword Scans performed by Local Falcon



AFTER 12-19-19

Monthly Keyword Scans performed by Local Falcon



The location with the active citations had an increase in their ARP (average rank position) moving from 8th to 5th. Moving three spots is significant; small increases are more difficult as rank increases; it is more difficult to move up in rank in the top 10 versus the lower ranks such as 23rd to 20th. The greatest increase can be seen on the left side of the grid. The location was ranked outside the top 10 before citations were submitted and rose to the top five after the citations were indexed by Google.




TEST 2 for keyword “MEXICAN RESTAURANTS NEAR ME”

 

Here’s the BEFORE AND AFTER  on the CONTROL LOCATION (where no directory submissions were made) 

BEFORE 10-18-19

Monthly Keyword Scans performed by Local Falcon



AFTER 12-19-19

Monthly Keyword Scans performed by Local Falcon

 

Not much discernible change.

 

Here’s the BEFORE AND AFTER  on the TEST LOCATION (where directory submissions were made) 

 

 BEFORE 10-18-19

Monthly Keyword Scans performed by Local Falcon



AFTER 12-19-19

Monthly Keyword Scans performed by Local Falcon

 

Again, the test listing sees a dramatic increase in rank. Moving from an ARP of 12 to 9. Here’s the tipping point: before the citations were created, the location only ranked 1st right outside its front door. Afterwards, this location ranks in the Google 3-pack for a full mile in either direction.

 

Summary

Given that the only optimization difference between these two listings were the citations that were built, we are reasonably confident that this is the source of the ranking improvement. Over the course of 90 days, the test listing saw dramatic increases in rank while the control listing remained relatively unchanged. Citations contribute significantly to the Google Maps ranking of a location and are a key part of breaking into the Google 3-pack.

 

Boost the ranking of your locations with a citations sync from dbaPlatform.

 

Disclaimer: These are real-time tests, and results are by no means definitive. There's no such thing as a “perfect” control group as Google itself and “the internet” test environment are always changing.

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