In 2018 citations and business directory listings continue to be one of the easiest and straightforward tactics to get links pointing back to your local business and NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) data online where search engines can find and verify your locations. These citations are still crucial because links and NAP from reputable and trusted websites contribute to how you rank in local search results.

Citations and Business Directory Listings HEADER

With both Voice Search and Near Me Search on the rise, it’s critical that your local business have citations and business listings on online directories that help search engines like Google provide accurate this-is-what-you’re-looking-for-close-to-you local search results.

The latest MOZ Local Search Ranking Factors puts Citations as the #4 ranking factor for Local Pack results, and #5 for Localized Organic Ranking.

MOZ Ranking Factors 2017

A study by BrightLocal found that Local SEO’s used “Citation Building” as their #1 tactic for growing backlinks to support their search engine optimization.

BrightLocal Linkbuilding Tactics Citations and Business Directory Listings

Why Citations and Business Directory Listings are Important in Local Search

Your business listing and local citation matter to search engines like Google, so they should be extremely important to you. Citations and business directory listings make your business visible online and the more quality listings you create, the better chance you have of customers finding you through online searches – both on search engines and industry or location specific websites.

Unlike the way you earn backlinks from other websites when link building, citations and business listings don’t need to contain an actual link back to your website to matter. Search engines are citations in the context of confirming that your business is, in fact, a legitimate company and should be recognized, and even promoted, as such.

You know the amazing growth your business can see when you rank high in local search results.  Topping local search results where new customers will find you is highly dependent on search engines being able to confirm your correct contact information and properly categorize your business. Managing your business listings is not something you risk leaving undone or haphazardly maintained.

Local Search Brings More Customers

Don’t have a fancy, optimized website or a blog attracting thousands of new visitors every month?

Lacking a strong online presence for your business, search engines are going to pull whatever information they can find on the internet. Google My Business Optimization, Reviews Monitoring, and Listing Management are crucial to your growth in the local market.

Managing your Google My Business account, gathering five-star ratings and interacting with customers on review sites, and accurate citations and business listings on well-established sites like chambers of commerce and business association pages help create a positive online presence that a search engine can trust and use on its results pages.

Citations and Business Directory Listings are Your Online Business Cards

If you care about ranking in local search results (if you have local customers you really, really do) then business listings are the foundation of your local digital marketing campaign. When NAP or business listings are inconsistent, or you fail to manage their creation and maintenance, you may find that any other local search marketing efforts are a waste of time.

Citations and Business Directory Listings 2018

Spiders are ever crawling the Web looking for new data to store and confirm to use in cross-referencing and extraction for search results. For you to be indexed as a local business listing there are four criteria that search engines require:

  • A Business Name – or DBA
  • A Local Phone Number – no toll-free or call tracking numbers
  • A Physical Street Address – no P.O. Boxes or shared addresses
  • A Face to Face Business – no virtual businesses

Your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) has to remain consistent across the internet or search engines will distrust your existence and drop you in local search ranking. Typos and punctuation like including an apostrophe in “Sam’s Car Lot” only sometimes is disastrous. Take great care to make sure your NAP’s are identical in spelling, spacing, and styling everywhere your business is listed online. Take note that all this information needs to be entered text, so you can’t just copy/paste in your logo with your address in a directory and call it done.

The Best Way to Manage Your Citations and Business Directory Listings

Finding directories, creating citations, and maintaining business listings on authority sites that are constantly indexed ensures that search engines – these are all things you can manually. But smart local business owners (notoriously short on extra time) automate not only their citation and business listing creation but the maintenance that ensures their business listings stay up-to-date and consistent with one another across the web.

Business directories and review sites, as well as hundreds of other websites, let you create a business listing for free but why would you do this one by one? AUTOMATE! AUTOMATE! AUTOMATE!

There are extremely cost-effective ways to automate the management of your business listings. You can get complete digital presence control with Reputation Loop’s collection of online reputation and review management features, automating most of these essential processes.

These types of services provide almost hands-free customer review management and promotion, in addition to business listings management and branded feedback pages. They are all part of Reputation Loop’s comprehensive program to build a stellar five-star online reputation so when local searchers are looking for the best; they find your business first.

Whether you choose to automate or manually manage your business listings, the most important thing for you to remember and adhere to is remaining consistent with the data you use to build your business listings and citations. Mistakes and inconsistencies make it so that search engines distrust the legitimacy of your business and lower your ranking in search results. And people are even less inclined than search engines to try to figure out what conflicting information they found online about your business is correct.

If you have questions about the difference between business listings and citations and what all this means to your business, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

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How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing  |  8 Low-Cost Digital Marketing Tactics  |  Local SEO Checklist: 9 Tips to Get Found Online  |

2017 Reputation Management Checklist  |  Using & Understanding Google My Business INSIGHTS  | Local SEO for Brick & Mortar Businesses Guide


Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.