If you are a local business, then you likely know how important search engine rankings are for your business.
Being on the first page of Google is critical if you want a share of all the potential local customers searching for the service you provide.
Not many people even bother moving past the first page of results on Google. You need to be there and you ideally want to be on the map too.
One of the most important factors for local SEO is the accuracy and quality of your business citations.
What are citations?
When talking about your business and website SEO, a citation is any mention of your business on the web. It is any combination of your business name, phone number, address, zip code, and website address. These citations are an important factor in contributing to your local search rankings.
The accuracy of your business citations on the web is considered one of the top five most important local SEO factors by top SEO industry authorities such as Moz and Search Engine Land.
Your business having citations on the top online business directories can positively influence your SEO.
The importance of citations
You probably know already that it’s important to be listed in Google My Business, the program that places your business on Google Maps and helps you get that important featured business listing on search results.
But the importance of business citations doesn’t end there. You also want to be in Bing Places for Business, Acxiom, Localeze, YellowPages, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Citysearch, and many others.
Many of these citations for your business exist on the internet whether you have claimed them and manage them or if they are auto-generated by these online directories. The ones that are unclaimed by you are the ones you need to be concerned with. They very frequently contain incorrect or out of date information.
Besides giving people the wrong address or phone number, this incorrect information can influence how Google views your business. Even if your potential customers never use Localeze, the information on that site is used by other search engines.
Because of this, it’s very important to claim all of those business directory profiles, make sure the information is correct and fill them out completely.
How to manage your directories and citations
If you want to self-manage your online citations, your first option is to manually claim every business directory profile you can find. You can google your business or company name using quotes and click on each listing and click the “Claim this business” or “Claim profile” link on the listing.
Use a secondary email address to have the confirmation emails sent to. If you use your main email, you will be sent hundreds of emails and offers from the website and whoever they sell their mailing list to. We don’t recommend it!
The citation building company Whitespark has measured the top 50 business citation sources that support SEO. You can see the list to the left. Claim your business profile on each one of these directories.
Be warned though: This process can be very tedious and time-consuming. Be prepared to spend at least ten hours minimum on this project and maybe 20, 30 or more.
A second option to do this project yourself is to use an online directory management tool. We use Moz Local for our clients and it’s our favorite. It’s a paid annual service but it will save you 10-20 hours or more in time so that is worth the price.
Another paid service you may be familiar with is YEXT. We do not recommend this service though because it is more expensive and requires a monthly payment. The moment you stop paying, your directory listings will revert to the previous versions or disappear entirely. It is not cost-effective or sustainable.
The third option is to hire a local SEO company to manage the project for you. For example, our team at Green T Marketing would be happy to help you. We use the Moz Local tool we recommended. Even though you could do this on your own, we can guarantee that we will save you time and make sure it is done correctly in a way that supports your SEO.
We have the experience to get the project done quickly and accurately. We’ve done this for many local businesses and have learned how to complete a local directory SEO campaign effectively. Most local businesses will see increases in their search rankings and traffic within 30-60 days of a directory campaign.
Contact us and we can discuss getting a local campaign started for your business to improve your SEO and online visibility.
Local Search Ranking Factors 2017 – Moz.com
Ways to Dominate Local Search – Search Engine Land
Best Local Search Ranking Factors – BrightLocal