As a local business owner, you have most likely received some form of sales call from a listings website. They come in a staggering amount of shapes, sizes, and names. To make things even more confusing, some of the smaller directories will imitate the larger ones just to make a quick buck. The frustrating thing about these calls is that they generally want you to pay for ad space on their website, so that you can be the first thing potential customers see when they search. It can be tempting to handwave away all of these websites. If you’ve never heard of the website from your customers, how important could it be? However, completely ignoring directories may end up harming your Google rankings, and, as a result, alienating a large potential customer base.
The Purpose of Citations
Almost every page online that lists your business name and address is known as a citation. Despite what salespeople may tell you, the majority of citations do not require any sort of payment. Citations can include a listing on the Yellow Pages, local chamber of commerce pages, or a page on a local business association. These citations are very important in ranking algorithms for popular search engines like Google and Bing. That’s because the search engines use these citations to reaffirm the validity of a business’s local information. Google would be useless if a search for local plumbers took you to a business in another state! Providing clear business information to websites that provide citations is a key factor to improving local search engine rankings. In fact, high quality citations are seen as a top ranking factor for competitive local search markets.
How to Approach Posting Citations
There are thousands of websites which allow you to post a listing for your website or business. The question you should be asking yourself is how relevant the citation posting website is to your business. For example, if you are a lawyer in South Florida, popular attorney-focused directories like Avvo and Justia are essential for your Google rankings. However, because you are in South Florida, getting yourself listed in a general search directory focused in the greater Boston area wouldn’t do you much good.
Generally, you will want to focus on local websites, blogs, and directories. For example, although websites like Yelp and the Yellow Pages cover the whole of the United States, their main goal is to make sure that someone looking for a barber in South Beach will find the best barber in South Beach. Such websites are also seen as reliable by search engines because they guard their citations with account verifications to prevent bot spam. Directories that are usually managed by one person or a team of people are also more highly valued by search engines. When the alternative is to let anyone change anything on the directory, it can be easy for the entire directory to become unreliable.
When looking for what local blog to list your business on, a quick Google search for a blog in your city, county, or neighborhood will usually provide the best results. For bigger websites like Yelp and Yellow Pages, the popularity of the website may be determined by where you live. Bigger, metropolitan areas like Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco tend to use Yelp more often. Smaller towns may still be more likely to use Yellow Pages or SuperPages. While you should have your citations on all three websites, finding out which is the most popular in your area should help determine how to divide up your time and energy for each citation.
Updating Your Business Citations
While it is important to have your citations on websites relevant to your business, just posting them may not be enough. As mentioned before, search engine rankings value high quality citations. What that means is, citations that have in-depth information about the business, photos relating to the business, and accurate contact information, are more likely to be highly considered by search engines than those which don’t. Potential customers looking for a business like yours on the directory will also be more drawn to your business listing than a competing business with little to no information.
If you’re curious as to how your business is appearing on local directories and listings, check out our citation checker here. If you need help determining what the best approach to posting citations for your business is so you can improve search engine rankings, call us at Market My Market for a free consultation.