Many small business owners aren’t aware that there are hundreds (probably closer to thousands) of directories online that you can list your business for free and thus, put your establishment in front of millions of viewers. Having your business accurately listed on business directories can actually help you rank higher on Google search results. But, before we get into building business citations for local SEO, let’s go over a few things.
What Is A Business Citation?
A citation is a mention of information regarding your business. Whenever someone refers to your business (by means of your name, address, or phone number) or links to your website, that’s considered a citation. When it comes to citations, there are 2 kinds – structured vs. unstructured.
Structured vs. Unstructured Citations
A structured citation is probably what most people are familiar with seeing online. Structured citations follow a structure, in the sense of using your business name, address, and phone number when referencing your business. This is commonly referred to as your “NAP”. Some directories go a step further and offer you a chance to add your hours, a description, photos, videos, and even a website link.
Take Yelp, for example. They are considered a “structured citation” because they use your NAP as part of your mention. When you open a Yelp account for your business, you can list the information we mentioned above, and then some. Your business listed on Yelp would then be considered a “citation”.
Unstructured citations would be a mention of your website through a 3rd party like a blog, or social media mention. Both are equally important to build for better local SEO results. If a local mom blogger decides to make a blog about their experience in your restaurant, and links to your website, we consider this an unstructured citation.
Structured citations include (these are typically business directories):
- Google (via your Google Business Profile)
- Chamber Of Commerce
- Better Business Bureau
- Healthgrades (for medical businesses)
Unstructured places to gain a citations but aren’t necessarily directories include:
- Blog posts from 3rd parties
The Importance of business citations for Local SEO:
Why is knowing all of this important? Well, the more citations you have from high-ranking and reputable sources, the better it is for your local SEO. Business citations offer you:
- Referral Traffic: There are many beneficial reasons to build citations on business directories, and one of the most important is that these websites tend to get a lot of traffic, which means you can receive referral traffic directly to your website via backlinks.
- Consistency & Professionalism: Accurate citations create consistency across the internet and reduces confusion for your potential customers. When a customer is shopping online and sees your business listed consistently across the web, it starts to build your reputation as a professional and established business in the eyes of the consumer. Google wants to see your business information consistent and accurate, as well. Meaning, your NAP information ought to be the same across the board. If you have an old phone number listed across these directories, that’s no bueno. Search engines don’t particularly like this and this can negatively impact your local SEO.
- High Quality Backlinks: Since these business directories tend to come with a high Domain Authority, these backlinks carry a lot of clout in terms of building your own domain authority. When your website rubs elbows with other high ranking websites via backlinks, that tends to lead to positive outcomes.
- Displays Prominence & Popularity: Google rewards consistency, prominence, and relevancy when it comes to Local SEO rankings. If your business covers a lot of online real estate via these directories, Google sees this as positive sign that your business is popular which can help you rank higher in local searches.
You Down With N.A.P.?
Let’s take a little u-turn back to
90’s the importance of NAP. If you were to take anything home with you today, it would be this: your listings need to be consistent across the board. Your business name, address, and phone number (hours, website, and services, too) need to be the same throughout all of your listings.
The more consistent, the better. Strive for 100% consistency here.
While Google can recognize minor differences, like “Dr.” and “Drive”, we highly encourage you to find a format, and stick with it.
We recommend to Google your business right now and see the format and spelling that Google Maps is using to list your address. Then, use this exact format across your different citations and directory sites.
There are several services online that can help you get your business listed, with Yext.com being the most well-known (and one of the most expensive and why we don’t use it or recommend it).
If you want to get started now, we personally use a service called BrightLocal.com for building citations for our clients. OR, we manually add them…one, by one.
Take away: Do a Local SEO Scan to find all your NAP errors and fix them stat.
How To Fix Your Citations & Get Listed
- Scan Your Business Listings By Getting Your Free Local SEO Report. You’ll receive your results in minutes and you’ll gain access to how your business is performing in regards to your local listings, on-site SEO, and search rankings. You’ll receive an email with all of these findings.
- Work with a listing service like BrightLocal.com and pay to have these listings filled out for you, hire an SEO manager (that’s us!) and invest in our Local SEO listing services, or….manually add them yourself.
- Be sure to sign up for aggregator listings like Data Axle, Neustar, GPS Network, and YP Network.
If you’re hiring out a service to do this for you, we highly recommend you make sure that they also delete any duplicates along with fixing all NAP errors.
Other Places To Get Listed Online
Another area to post your business are Local Directories. In Google, type in “Business Directory + Town/City” or start to look for .gov or .edu sites like “www.town.gov” and replace your town in the URL. Reach out to the webmasters of these sites, and inquire about what it takes to get your business listed, or featured on their website. Sites that end in “.gov” or “.edu” tend to be seen as high authority sites, and thus, are excellent places to be associated with.
Also, double check for any industry specific directories like HealthGrades.com for medical practices like a local optometrist.
A quick word on collaborations: We also recommend to look for local social media and blogger influencers. I bet if you looked at your Instagram and Facebook feed right now, you’re probably already following someone that creates content for your particular area. These influencers tend to need new ideas for content on a regular basis. And, if you have a business that can offer a story, an event, or a new product that would be a good fit for them, you could start building a relationship for a blog or social media exchange with backlinks, @ mentions, and hashtags – giving your exposure to their following.
Checking a business’s local SEO report is, in fact, one of the very first audits we perform when working with a new client. It’s also a regular check-in we perform – this is how importante it is to make sure this is a part of your local SEO strategy. If you have not made the effort to fix your NAP issues, we highly recommend to make that a top priority.
Get your free local SEO report, get down with N.A.P., and start fixing those listings. And, if you need help along the way, well…you know me.