What Are Local Citation Listings?
Local citation listings, AKA local business listings, are essentially the way your business is represented in directories across the web. Citations are the listings that point directly to your business. The information contained in these listings often includes your “NAP” (Name, Address and Phone number). In addition to your NAP they often also provide a backlink to your company’s website. There are literally thousands upon thousands of local citation listings on the web. Why is this important? Each listing that points to your NAP and URL increases your chances of being found by potential customers.
How It All Works
Not all listing directories are created equal. Some of the more known and widely used directories carry a higher rating than the lesser known directories. Google My Business for instance, has a very high and trusted score that is considered by many to be one of the most valuable directories and usually one of the most accurate. To obtain a listing from Google my Business, your physical address must be verified. There are a few ways to verify your business on Google, depending on whether or not you have a physical location or if your business serves customers in a particular service area.
Many directories DO NOT verify your business listing, and that is where the trouble seems to start. However, directories that point to your business through your NAP and web URL have to be populated somehow. Most of these directories allow you to submit or edit your business information directly, but this can be time consuming and challenging when wanting to verify every possible listing across the web.
Why Does Consistency and Accuracy Matter in Your Local Listings?
The goal is to make sure your NAP is consistent on all of your listings across the internet. Search engines, Google specifically, crawl the internet to find everywhere your business is listed. They evaluate the credibility of the sites you are listed on and the consistency/accuracy of your listings. Ultimately, accurate listings and resolving duplicate listings will help you build trust with search engines, therefore improving your chances of being found by your customers.
What do we mean by accurate listings? Notice the differences in the listings below:
Acme Hardware Co.
1234 E. Main St.
Acme Hardware Company
1234 E. Main Street
Acme Hardware Company
1234 East Main Street
When we read these, it is very apparent that this is one business. All three have slight variations but obviously, they are the same establishment. When the search engines “crawl” the internet, these listings may register as three separate addresses, and therefore they are often classified as three separate businesses. This can result in your business being added to a directory three separate times, creating duplicates and reducing the overall authority of each.
Not only do these directories get populated by manual entry, they are often populated by bots. Bots use a process called “scraping”. This scraping act basically copies an existing directory and uses the information it receives to populate other directories. If your information is 100% accurate on all directories this is a great thing. It will create more backlinks to your business and your URL for potential customers to find you. But what if you have a discrepancy in only one directory? It quickly gets spread from directory to directory and before long the one variation has doubled then tripled then… Well, you get the point.
Why You Need Accurate Local Citations
If this process can get so convoluted why do we need these directories? The answer is simple. Search engines rank your business on many factors.
- Does your site have original content?
- Does your site provide value to the visitor?
- Is your site structured in a way that is easily digestible by search engines?
- How many other sites point to you as a reference?
The reference factor plays a big role in this discussion. The more sites that point to your site as a source of value, the higher your rating.
Think of it as brand building. If a high ranking site with credibility decides to reference your site, then you have somewhat of a status bump. If enough sites do this, it tells the search engines that you too must have a legitimate “Brand” and this will steadily increase your search rankings provided the rest of your site has been optimized.
Ultimately, you are local to the person making the query, you have multiple directories pointing to your URL, and the information is consistent. This is why local directories carry so much weight.
How do You Know if the Information is Correct in Your Business Listings?
You can asses the status of your online local business listings by evaluating them one by one, comparing them and fixing them individually, or you can utilize an online scanning tool. Assessing the directories individually can be extremely time consuming, requiring you to create individual accounts to claim and update your listings. With an online scanning tool, you can evaluate your listings quickly. We have a free scanning tool you can use to evaluate the current state of your business listings.
In minutes you will have a quick summary that will tell you how your business ranks and what improvements you can make. For your scan you will need:
- Your name, phone number and email address. This confirms that you are a real person and will give the system a way to email you the listing status report.
- Your Business Information for the scan. Make sure you enter this information the way you would like your business to be listed across the internet. The information requested includes:
- Business Name
- Business Address
- Business phone number
You will see your results instantly. Once you read through your report, you can then start working through your listings to make updates. At that point, you can decide whether or not you will address them individually, or if you would prefer support. Our team provides affordable services to resolve and maintain all online listing discrepancies. Not only do we offer to assess, resolve and monitor your local listing presence, we also provide an interactive portal for you to view and update your listing information, as well as generate, monitor and respond to online reviews.
Your portal will allow you to directly see your listings and engage with anyone rating your business directly from your portal. Get started today and have your local business listings up to date and accurate across 40+ directories by this time next week! That means greater visibility in your local market, which means more opportunities to sell!
The choice is entirely up to you on how you tackle this problem. We want to provide you with the knowledge required to take on the task. If you would like to set up a free consultation, we will walk you through your report and explain what the results mean and how you can make improvements.