There’s been much ado recently in the SEO industry about citations. Industry folk love to declare things “dead” or over—even SEO itself has been declared DOA more than a handful of times.

The chatter and confusion is understandable. With Acxiom shutting down its aggregator service and industry experts widely reporting that the ranking value of citations is next to nil, it’s not hard to see that the value of citations has been diminished. But like so many aspects of marketing, the reality is a lot more nuanced and complex than “citations are dead.” 

Yes, the value of citations as a local SEO signal has undoubtedly weakened. As Joy Hawkins recently said, for SMBs citations are just “a low-impact tactic so it’s not what we tackle first.”

But for enterprise and multi-location brands, having accurate local listings data across the search ecosystem is still critical—and citations are a part of that data.

In fact, 90% of experts believe accurate citations are important to local search ranking. The value of citations in customer experience should not be overlooked. In the Local Citations Trust Report by BrightLocal, we learned that 68% of consumers would stop using a local business if they found incorrect information on online directories.

Proactive local listings management ensures that any inaccurate listings, rogue data, and out-of-date information are corrected, rather than picked up to appear on a major service like Apple Maps. Once you’ve done the work of optimizing your brand’s local presence to have listings appear in front of consumers in the moments that matter, you need to close the loop by ensuring that you’re giving them the accurate information needed to get them in your doors.

Today, just 1 in 69 local searches result in a click through to a website. As Rand Fishkin pointed out recently, “Google’s ongoing attempts to answer more searches without a click to any results OR a click to Google’s own properties are both proving successful. As a result, zero-click searches, and clicks that bring searchers to a Google-owned site keep rising.”

Google wants to give every searcher the best answer. As a brand, you need to feed Google the right information so YOUR locations are clearly the best answer on relevant searches when consumers are looking for products and services like yours in areas you do business.

When and wherever a consumer sees a listing for one of your locations, you need to be present with driving directions, click-to-call functionality, current store hours, and other information to help them convert. Enterprise brands need to make sure their citations are accurate across hundreds or even thousands of locations, and it takes technology to manage this at scale.

So what does this mean for your multi-location business today?

  • Citations have an indirect impact on local rankings by influencing search engine trust in your brand, via consistency and accuracy across listings for all locations.
  • Citations give consumers the information needed to convert them from online search to in-store sale.
  • Citations provide brands the opportunity to expand their footprint in competitive local markets. 

In short, it’s true that the value of local citations as a ranking signal has diminished. For enterprise brands, this is secondary to the value they offer as customer experience and conversion tools. 

Citations are still an integral part of a successful local marketing strategy for brands and enterprise organizations.

Want to learn more about your own local citations and their impact on your multi-location brand’s local presence? Take advantage of a Free Local Audit and discover new opportunities to surpass your toughest competition in all local markets.