Don’t Lose Sight of Your Citations
They’re not footnotes in a college term paper or a ticket for letting your grass grow too tall. Citations, as related to website marketing, are mentions of your business in directories based on your location. More importantly, they are a key influencer of the ranking algorithms in Google and Bing. Multiple citations reassure these search engines you are really established and open for business. It has a lot to do with trust. If they recommend you, you better be worth it. Once obtained, citations are one of the most desirable, credible and affordable ways a company can achieve local search optimization.
Generally listings in these directories are free, but a minor maze of preparation is required to participate. And make no mistake, you will want to devote the time upfront to avoid problems down the road. The last thing you want is a prime placement among search results that directs future customers to the wrong address.
To make sure your business gets included and presented in this premier search engine vehicle, you’ll want to at least consider consulting a local search company. It’s the most expeditious way to get the orientation and overview that will help you understand how citations work.
There are thousands of national, local and niche citation sites. Here are just a few of the most popular ones:
- Yahoo Places
- Merchant Circle
- Apple Maps
If you’ve ever wondered why a single company brings up so many suggestions, it may be because there are so many citations. For example, a search of Amica Insurance Company results not only in the company’s website url but also listings from Yelp, MapQuest, Nerdwallet, an industry site called car-insurance.credio and even a Wikipedia listing.
Seeing this much written about a company can be very impressive when a customer is doing initial research. Not only can they visit the official website, but the additional citations allow for a 360 degree evaluation of what is known about a business. Even if your company is small (just you) and without a website, you can still appear in a search if you have multiple citations.
In addition to the general sites, you’ll want to participate in the industry-specific directories such as:
Where Do You Stand in the Land of Citations?
There are four steps you can take to ensure your citations are in place.
- Locate existing data. Among the virtual flotsam and jetsam accumulating on the internet, you’ll be amazed to learn what’s already been written and compiled about your company, correctly and incorrectly. A thorough search will locate and gather all the fragmented data.
- Claim the listings. After a comprehensive search of relevant citation sites uncovers existing and partial listings for your company, you will need to officially “claim” them before you can do anything further.
- Analyze your listings (and the competition!) Now that you have identified what’s floating around out there and claimed what belongs to you, it’s time to determine what to keep, what to delete and what to craft to your best advantage. Paid citation analysis services such as BrightLocal, Moz Local, Whitespark and Yext are top providers in this area. As we said initially, this is complex stuff.
- Clean up your listings. Here’s where you will fix inconsistencies, remove duplicates and put your listings under the microscope. The most important part is the NAP (name, address and phone number). Like a social security number, this will follow you wherever you go on the Internet so you want it to be right.
There are so many stories about how Joe’s Pizza, Joe’s Pizzeria and Joe’s NY Style Pizza kept people wondering if Joe was a triplet. Having data that remains consistent across all sources is imperative. Some of the information you must get correct includes:
- Business name
- Business address
- Local phone number
- Branded email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Website/landing page url
- Business category
- Hours of operation
- Business description
- Google My Business filled out 100%
- Photos and virtual tour uploaded
Building Listings Manually
We don’t want to understate the technical challenge of carefully and methodically building your own citations. It is a painstaking process. By doing it yourself, the information will be complete, changeable and under your control. You also get to personalize with exactly the right data and descriptions. You’ll want to keep a spreadsheet for tracking and planning what messages you wish to promote and when the citations should be updated.
If you decide the process is too tedious or time-consuming, you can go with a reputation and listings management company who will, for a fee, automatically manage your citations for you.
Dominate Local Rankings
When it’s time to think about citations and SEO for local search, the goal is to be included in top national directories like TripAdvisor, industry-relevant directories like findlaw.com and local directories like the Chamber of Commerce. Getting listed in these highly-regarded referral sources is one of the most essential factors in rendering excellent local search rankings. While it requires an initial rounding up of existing data and intense scrutiny of how to proceed, SEO professionals agree the attention devoted to connecting to citations will pay off promptly. It’s definitely one of the most cost-effective ways to get great visibility in Google search results. You’ll start to see your company rise in the ranks and receive multiple mentions from superior sources.
Please contact us if you’re interested in listing management for your company. We have the technology and the know-how to claim all your listings and make sure they are up to date so you’re listed in all of the right places.