Why Local Citations and Business Listings are So Important
In the simplest and most non-technical terms, understand that your business listings make your business visible online and the more listings you create, the better chance you have of customers finding you.
Your business listing and local citation are important to search engines like Google, so they should be extremely important to you. These are factors in the ranking algorithms used to create search engine results and a business with more citations will (if all other factors are equal) rank higher than a business with less.
Different than back links or link building, citations and business listings don’t need to link back to your website to matter. Search engines are using this information in the context of confirming that your business is in fact a legitimate business and should be recognized, and even promoted, as such.
Knowing the importance of local search results to your business, managing your business listings is not something you want left undone or haphazardly maintained. Ranking high in local search results is highly dependent on search engines being able confirm your correct contact information and properly categorize your business.
If a local business does not have a website or a strong web presence, search engines are going to pull whatever information they can find. For these small businesses maintaining correct and consistent online business listing is crucial to appearing in local search results. Five-star ratings and on review sites and proper 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.
More than a Name – Your Business Listings are Your Online Business Card
If you care about local search marketing (if you have local customers you really, really do) then business listings are the foundation upon which you are building your whole campaign. If you get your business listings wrong or fail to manage their creation and maintenance then you may find that your local search marketing efforts could prove to be a waste of time.
Spiders are ever crawling the Web looking for new information to store for 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
There is additional information you can have on many of the business directories you want to be listed on so let’s go over the major parts of your business listing.
Business Name, Address and Phone Number
Your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) has to remain consistent across the internet or search engines will distrusts your existence and drop you in local search ranking. Typos and punctuation like including an apostrophe in “Sam’s Car Lot” only half the time is disastrous so take great care to make sure your NAP’s are identical in spelling, spacing and styling everywhere on line. Take note that all this information needs to be entered text, so you can’t just copy/paste in your logo and call it done.
Most search engines allow a designation of two to five categories of your choosing. This not only let’s Google and they know where best to list you, it helps customers understand who you are and what you do. Not categorizing, or even worse selecting the wrong categories could mean search engines don’t use in you search results at all.
Other Information You May Get to Include in Your Business Listings
Some listings may only require or only let you fill in the NAP and categories. There are so many business listing sites and they are all generally the same but a lot of them allow you to enter additional information. Take advantage of these opportunities to let search engines and actual humans to fill in profiles in their entirety. Possible sections include:
- Business Website URL
- Multiple City or Neighborhood
- Storefront and Product/Service Images
- Business Descriptions
- Review Site Business Page Links
- Social Media Accounts
- Static and Interactive Maps
The Best Way to Manage Your Business Listings
Building and maintaining business listings on authority sites that are constantly indexed ensures that search engines can be done manually, but it makes no sense when you can automate not only their creation, but the maintenance that ensures your listings stay up-to-date and consistent with one another online. Websites like Google My Business, Facebook and Yahoo local, as well as hundreds of other sites let you create a business listing for free but why would you do these one by one?
If you work on any aspect of running a business there is no possible way that you have the time to manually create and maintain hundreds of business listings. 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 features automates most of the process while providing 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.
You can visit Google’s Google My Business Help Page to get more information on their local business listing best practices.
However you choose to manage your business listings, the most important thing for you to remember and adhere to is remaining consistent in the data you use to build your business listings and citations. Mistakes and inconsistencies make it so that search engines don’t trust you, and people are even less inclined than search engines to try to figure out what information they have found online about you is correct.
If you have questions on the difference between business listings and citations and what all this means to your business, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.