Local citations, or sometimes referred to as business directory listings, are critical to your complete online presence and online marketing strategy.
What are Local Citations?
Loosely defined, a local citation is anytime your business is referenced on another website. They are a structured listing of your business in online directories, mapping services, blogs and search engines, even if this information isn’t directly linked to your website.
Business Directory Listings Benefit You
Business directory listings are excellent online marketing resources for your business. Not only do they increase your online presence, but anytime your business is mentioned on another site, you are getting attention and exposure to more potential clients.
These local citations and business directory listings, when used properly and consistently, can be the single most important factor to influencing competitive local search engine rankings.
You might initially be under the impression that the more local citations you have, the better it is for your online presence, but the quality of your business directory listings is far more important than the quantity of listings.
Also, remember not to confuse citations with links; citations consist of the name, address and phone number (NAP) for your business.
Where Should You List Your Business?
Not only does the accuracy and consistency of the NAP and the information in the citation itself matter, the quality of the places you post the business directory listings matters as well.
When it comes to where to list your business, there are seven types of websites for your local citations:
- Data Aggregators
- Large Directories
- Industry Directories
- Local/Regional Directories
- Local Blogs
- Social Media
- Search Engines
The United States has four primary data aggregators designed to compile unique indexes of approximately 20 million businesses across the country. The four primary data aggregators are:
Data aggregator indexes are compiled through:
- Researching traditional phone books
- Banking and phone records
- Business group membership rosters
- Databases from business registration entities
- Submitting information directly
Data aggregators matter to your business because these indexes license or syndicate the data and business directory listings they have collected to most search engines, such as Google and Bing, as well as other online business directories.
Large directories are sites that your customers tend to use frequently to locate businesses and services, and there are only a handful of large directories where you want your online business listing.
Search engines, like Google and Bing, reference these business directory listings to improve confidence and trust in the accuracy of the name, address and phone number of your location. When search engines put “trust” into these directories, your search rankings improve.
The following are the major large directories to place your citations:
Some of these directories also feature online reviews. Review sites are important to your online reputation management.
Websites that focus on topics or keywords that relate to your products or services may also be sites that search engines recognize as citation sources. This is true even if the website is not focused specifically in your local region. These business listing sites may be a membership directory for your industry or a blog focused on the industry in which you operate.
Industry directories are another source that search engines use in order to verify information, so accurate local citations on directories for your specific industry or trade improve search rankings.
If you are unsure how to find appropriate sites for your business directory listings, perform a search for “[your industry] directory” or “[your keyword] directory” and learn what directories make sense for your needs.
As the name suggests, local directories contain business directory listings for a specific region or area. Your local customers are the ones to frequent these sites when looking for a particular product or service.
Search engines use these well-indexed directories, so accurate local citations on these pages will increase your search ranking.
Your local customers look to blogs that contain specific information about products and services within their local area. Additionally, search engines once again pull information from local blog sites, which make adding local citations to a blog a great way to inspire customer trust while also upping your search rankings.
A simple search for “[your city] blog” or “[your neighborhood] blog” will give you ideas as to where to add business directory listings.
Your small business should have a Facebook Business Page. Facebook is the largest social network and is rapidly turning into a very influential advertising platform for businesses.
You do not have to invest tons of time into coming up with posts every day; even if you post infrequently, your customers will appreciate a Facebook page.
When creating your Facebook page, be sure that it contains your business name, address and phone number and that these items are all consistent with your website and other business directory listings.
In addition to Facebook, consider creating profiles on the following popular social media sites.
The two most influential search engines, Google and Bing, both have pages with their own business directory listings. One of the most beneficial reasons for having local citations on both search engine business sites is that your business is linked to their map services, allowing customers to easily get step-by-step driving directions.
Additionally, search engines offer:
- More exposure to search engine traffic
- Ensures that information in your local citations is the correct information for search results
- Gives your business a competitive advantage over non-claimed listings
Crafting Quality Citations
Local citations and business directory listings should contain three crucial pieces of information:name, address and phone number (NAP). Remember that directory listings do not need to have a link to your website.
Once you have created your online business listing, you have to invest time investigating whether the local citations on business listing sites is accurate or not. In order for search engines to rank your business highly, they must first trust that the online listing and local citations contain the correct information.
Having local citations that are consistently the same over important business listing sites gives search engines confidence in ranking your business.
Remember that it is the quality of your local citations that is far more meaningful than the quantity of your business directory listings and local citations.
Find and Eliminate Duplicate Listings; Accuracy Matters
Duplicate listings may not seem like a big deal, but you want to perform searches to be sure that you don’t have multiple business directory listings because they can confuse customers and search engines.
When looking at business listing sites to see if you already have a citation, search variations of your name rather than just the name. Doing so gives you results of all variations of the name of your small business, making it easy to spot discrepancies or duplicate listings.
You will also want to search both your phone number and your fax number. Some sites may confuse your fax number as your phone number in local citations and checking carefully for this mistake increases the accuracy of your information.
Searching for your phone number lets you know if there are any directory listings for your phone number but a different business. Do the same for your name and address too to guarantee that your business directory listings are consistent and correct.
Have Us Manage Your Local Citations
Local citations are natural extension of your Complete Online Presence, a service we include in every new website we design.
These business directory listings significantly improve your search engine rankings, resulting in a more visible online presence.
Whether you have a website, are looking to redesign your website, or in fact need a website, it is essential that your business directory listings are complete with accurate information across the most prominent local citation sites.
Need someone to manage your local citations? Just contact us and we’ll be happy to make sure your citations are accurate and on the sites that matter most to your online presence.