It’s all in the details. Get your business cited in online directories.
If you want your business to gain higher visibility in search engine results and attract more customers, then you need to ensure your company details appear in multiple local online directories.
A citation is a reference to your business on a directory site such as Yelp or Google+ that contains your business name, address, postcode, and telephone number. This is also known as your company’s ‘NAP’ (Name, Address, Postcode) details. A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number of a local business. Besides your name, address, and postcode, any of the following may be included in a local listing:
- A link to your company’s website.
- Business categories
- Opening hours
- Business description
- Payment forms accepted
- Owner responses
- Links to social and other forms of media
- Email addresses
- Fax numbers
- Alternate phone numbers
Citations can appear on local business directories, websites, apps, and social platforms. They help internet users to find local businesses, and they can impact your local search rankings. Having your business referenced in multiple directories all with the same NAP details gives search engines confidence that you are a real business, and can be trusted. This will often will result in higher visibility in search engines.
Why local citations matter to your business
Local citations can have a negative or positive impact on your local search engine rankings. The number of citations your business has, the accuracy of the data they feature, and the quality of the platforms they appear on, all impact your search engine ranking.
If search engines like Google find inconsistencies in the data they collate about your business (for example, one citation features a postcode for Reading while another has a postcode for Guildford), your website will be deemed untrustworthy, and your page ranking will drop.
If the data is consistent across numerous directories or platforms, then that is likely to improve your chances of ranking well.
Likewise, local citations can have an impact on the perception of your company. Accurate listings help people to find your local business which can boost your web and foot traffic. Inaccurate information, however, can dent people’s trust in your business, and that can damage your reputation and revenue.
Types of local citations
- Major local business data platforms such as Google My
Business, Facebook, and Yelp.
- Industry or location-specific platforms such as Chamber of
Commerce websites, industry association websites, or guild
- Publications such as news websites, government databases,
apps, maps, or blogs.
You can develop citations with the use of automated software, manually filling out forms on local business platforms, or via PR/marketing efforts. Sometimes citations and local business listings will appear as a result of automated aggregation, or data collected from local business data platforms. If that happens, it’s vital the information about your business is accurate before it has a negative impact on your revenue or local search rankings.
Search the web to find your company’s listings and citations. Correct any that are wrong, inconsistent, or incomplete. Remove duplicate listings.
Make sure your company’s details appear on major platforms such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and Yellow Pages. Create listings on your core local business data platforms and those that are relevant to your location or industry.
Manage your citations regularly to ensure you find inconsistent or duplicate listings. Be aware too that if you move premises, merge with another company, rebrand, or change your phone numbers or operating times, your listings will need to be updated.
Look for opportunities to get listed on news websites or blogs that are relevant to your audience.
- 28 Proven Ways To Grow Your Local Business, Peter Marshall (2018)