Directory listings and citations play a very important role in the success of any local SEO strategy. If you own a local business and are working on improving your website's ranking then addressing your directory listings and citations must be part of your plan.
Are you skeptical?
Check out the images below from a study Moz completed on local search ranking factors.
Citations signals represent 13% of local ranking factors for the local pack (aka Map Search).
Citation signals represent 8% of local ranking factors for local organic search.
Directory listings and citations are not something you can ignore and have long-term success.
But, what exactly are directory listings? What are citations? Why are these elements important in local SEO? Read on to find out...
What are Directory Listings?
Think of directory listings as online phonebooks with a library of important information like NAP (company name, address, and phone number), website address, map listing, etc.
They can show up when people search for your business online and help people find you when they search on a specific directory for businesses in your industry.
Check out this sample listing that is currently on Yelp:
Most directory listings allow the business to post photos, hours of operation, and other important data to provide potential customers with more information about a business.
What are the more popular directory listing services online? I'm glad you asked, check out this article with the most popular directory listings for everything you need to know.
Have You Checked Your Directory Listings Lately?
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The Importance of Directory Listings For Local Businesses
Here are a few reasons why you need to manage your directory listings if you're really dead serious about taking your business to greater heights.
1. Boost Your Online Presence
Today, many directory listings pull information from other larger directories and automatically create listings. It means that getting listed in one directory translates to getting listed to several more.
This is a great way to organically create and maintain part of your online presence.
When you see your business information appear in other directories, make sure that you check, claim, and update your listings frequently and regularly to avoid transferring incorrect business information.
Check out the "How to Manage" section below for more detailed info on this.
2. Grow Your Local Visibility
Directory listings ensure that your business is visible to your local community. Many directory listings have advanced filtering and suggestion capabilities to help connect consumers to your business.
3. Get Discovered More Easily
Most of the time, consumers don't know what they want. They don’t know to search a specific business name or the specific service they need. Directory listings bridge this gap to get your business discovered.
Directory listings allow consumers to search for businesses by service, location, and category.
With that said, you have to enter complete and accurate information in your listings. Update your listings when necessary and make sure they are consistent across the board.
4. More Effectively Use Word of Mouth
You may already know that more than 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
How is this related to directory listings?
It's actually quite simple - a number of online business directories have a customer review component as part of the listing which can play a major factor in the decision making process for a potential customer.
Online reviews are the new "Word of Mouth" that can catapult your business to the top of the chain.
5. Strengthen Your Business Reputation
Managing your online reputation includes handling a mix of positive and negative reviews.
With the review component of many directory listings, you can improve your online reputation by requesting and responding to customer reviews.
A tip, don't be afraid to deal with negative reviews because no business is perfect. Turn those negative reviews into a positive learning experience for both your business and your customers.
6. Increase Brand Awareness
Directory listings increase brand awareness in unexpected ways.
When a user performs a search in a directory, it displays a list of relevant and potential results. Each result shows a snapshot that can help users decide which one to click on to learn more.
Now, even if a user doesn’t click on your listing, they will still see your business which increases awareness and familiarity with your brand.
7. Boost Your Local SEO
Local Search Engine Optimization ensures that search engines like Google favor your web content to rank higher in search results.
One very important thing you need to know is that search engines want to gain consumer trust which means that the more information it can obtain about a website, and the more consistent that information is, the better ranking you'll have.
Directory listings provide this validation by supporting and supplementing search engines with the information they need.
8. Show Up on Google
Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.
What's in it for you?
YOU NEED TO SHOW UP ON GOOGLE!
Local SEO is a very effective strategy to help you rank higher in Google but it can take a while to start seeing results.
Online business directory sites have been around for a while. They have high amounts of traffic and tend to be trusted by search engines. Remember that Google loves these traits so if you really want to show up on Google, directory listings need to be part of your plan.
What are Citations?
Online mentions of the name, address, and phone number of a local business is called a citation. These online mentions help businesses get discovered by potential customers and have an impact on local SEO rankings.
Citations occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social media platforms.
Citations have 3 types:
- Major Local Business Data Platforms - Some of these you've heard of, like Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. Others are more obscure like Acxiom, Localeze/Neustar, and Infogroup.
- Geo/Industry-Specific Platforms - Examples of these include your local chamber of commerce and professional associations.
- The Extended Web - These include blogs, news sites, apps, maps, and government databases.
The Importance of Citations For Local Businesses
Citations matter to local businesses for two reasons:
1. Citations Impact Local Search Engine Rankings
The number of citations a business collects, the accuracy of the data they feature, and the quality of the platforms they exist on all influence rankings.
Search engines like Google gather data about each business. When business information is inaccurate this can negatively impact the business with lower rankings.
2. Citations Can Impact Potential Consumers
Accurate citations help people discover a local business, which can result in web, phone, and foot traffic. This traffic ultimately leads to business transactions.
But, what if your phone number or address is incorrect on a particular directory listing? You run the risk of misdirecting potential customers, leading to lost sales and revenue.
How to Manage Your Directory Listings & Citations
This can be as difficult or as easy as you make it. I would recommend following these simple steps...
Step 1: Figure Out What Your Listings Currently Look Like
In order to figure out where you need to go, you first need to understand where you are now.
So, you need to know where there are inaccuracies in your listings currently. The easiest way to do this is to run a directory scan.
We'll make this really easy for you. Click on the directory scan button below and run your FREE scan now!
Step 2: Correct Any Errors in Your Scan Report
Now it's time to fix any errors on your scan report. You've got 3 options here:
Option 1: Manually Update
If you want to continually bang your head against the wall, then I'd recommend going to each directory and updating the information.
This will be a painful and time-consuming process.
Option 2: Use Listing Management Software
If you are the kind of person that likes to do things yourself, then I'd recommend using listing management software to make updating your directory listings more of an automated process.
Here are some of the more popular services you might want to check out:
Option 3: Have an Expert Handle It All For You
Think of this as the "done for you" option. It will save you a ton of time so you can focus on other parts of your business.
We can help you or there is no shortage of marketing consultants or digital marketing agencies who can too.
Step 3: Ongoing Monitoring of Your Listings
You're not the only person who can update your listings. Often times, information is updated based on user-generated content that may be inaccurate.
So, this is not a set it and forget it type of deal. Once you've completed step 2, you need to monitor your listings to ensure consistent accuracy.
The easiest way to do this is to use Option 2 or 3 above. Either option will make monitoring a much easier and pain-free process.
So, directory listings and citations are a great way to place your local business in front of potential customers.
If you're not convinced this is important for your business after reading this article, then I don't think you ever will be.
But, if you need more convincing the following articles may be helpful for you:
Do you have any additional questions about directory listings and citations? Please reach out or comment below.
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Are you looking for more solid local marketing tips and tricks? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing.
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