Getting Listed: Using Local Business Citations to Boost Online Visibility
Implementing an effective digital marketing strategy to grow your business will likely include several moving parts at once. From website design to strategy, the formula for achieving success in the digital space can seem complicated. That’s why we are going to focus this post on explaining how business citations – a large chunk to the local SEO equation – can benefit your business.
What is a Local Business Citation?
Generally speaking, a business citation is a mention of a company that could include its name, address, phone number, website, etc. There are two types of business citations.
You may not know it, but you likely come across structured citations more than you think. Ever search for restaurants in your city, or hotels to stay at when planning a vacation? The business listings on these types of directory sites (i.e., Yelp or Trip Advisor) are considered structured citations. These types of listings include detailed information about a company and play a key part in helping local businesses attain online exposure.
When a business gets listed in several local business directories, it’s extremely important that this information is consistent — especially the name, address and phone number (or NAP). This consistency will help the search engines recognize that a business is listed in multiple places, and as a result can help elevate a company’s rankings due to the understanding that Google has of a business.
Unstructured citations also help a business gain recognition and visibility in the search engine results pages. An important aspect of the small business marketing strategy, unstructured citations refer to mentions of your company on websites and blogs, as well as other online channels. These can be extremely beneficial depending on the quality of the source.
Benefits of Business Citations to Visibility and SEO
Business citations can be of tremendous benefit to a company because getting listed improves the likelihood that users are able to find a business when they are searching for specific services and products. It helps to be listed in multiple directories that are both more general in nature and tailored specifically to a company’s niche.
Additionally, the volume of citations from quality sources as well as NAP consistency across the various listings influence search engine rankings. Therefore, inconsistent NAP data can negatively affect your rankings. Not to mention, if someone finds your business through a local business directory and your business information is wrong, you’ve essentially wasted the opportunity for a potential customer to contact you.
The chart below illustrates that roughly 14 percent of the overall formula for local SEO is dedicated to citations (yellow portion).
Image Source: Moz
Local Business Directories
Now that we’ve touched on the types of business citations, we’ll now move on to discuss the different types of directories that could be advantageous to your business. Where a business is listed will likely vary based on a company’s industry and service.
These types of websites are dedicated directories to specific industries. Companies can find the most popular directories that users utilize in a given field and list their business. With that, what directory is the best for your business?
Again, it will depend on what your specialties are. If you’re an attorney who’s looking to add clients, perhaps listing on a site like lawyers.findlaw.com would be a good idea. Or let’s say you’re a plumber or electrician, you might want to add your business to thumbtack.com. Local business citations in niche directories will not only help increase brand awareness, but can also help ensure that a company is categorized properly by search engines like Google.
While there are multiple options for business citations that pertain to each specific field, there are also general directories.
General directories offer business citations to companies on a platform with a wide-ranging reach. An example of a general directory would be Yelp or the Yellow Pages. These directories are not tailored to one specific industry and span the spectrum in regards to the types of businesses that list their information. Due to the popularity of these sites and the large audiences they attract, developing a presence on most general directories could help businesses obtain more customers.
Local SEO and Your Business
Want to find out how your business is listed across many of the top local business directories? Contact us today for a Free Local Citation Audit and we’ll show you which directories have your NAP information correct and which sites don’t.