In order to drive more traffic to your business's website, it's absolutely essential that business citations are included in the marketing strategy. Any time that your business is mentioned by name on a web page, that's a citation. However, it's absolutely essential that the listing contain specific information about the business, including the physical address. An example of such a listing is an online directory, such as the online yellow pages.
Why Citations Are Important for Local Business Listings
Search engines, such as Google, use complicated and very well-guarded algorithms to help rank websites based on specific keyword searches. If a website isn't listed on the first two pages (the first should always be the goal), it might as well not exist. In today's global marketplace, thanks to the reach and popularity of the Internet, the competition for page ranking has become intense. That's why local search results become even more vital to success. When a search is conducted through a local ISP (Internet Service Provider), the geography plays a role. With strong business citations, positive local search results become more promising and successful.
The Basics of Citations
Business citations are important for niches that don't have a great deal of competition. For example, many home improvement contractors in certain regions don't have websites. As a result, anyone searching for work of this nature might never know that Affordable Builders, Inc (a fictional example) exists. However, with business citations, these listings will come up in the searches. Also, these citations highlight to the search engines that the business is legitimate and within the specific region. After all, there's no point in potential clients finding a provider halfway across the world when they need someone local.
To begin stepping into the world of business citations, take the following steps:
- Sign up your Business on Google Places. Simply log on the google.com/places and begin entering information about your business.
- Ensure that you use the actual business name, not a pseudonym or acronym (save those for other marketing endeavors).
- Use a physical address and working phone number. P.O. boxes don't work with business citations, so if you're not willing to use your home address (for home-based businesses), then wait until you have a different business address to use. Also, include your business phone number.
- Make sure that the name, address, and phone number you use will be consistent for all business citations that you develop.
- Next, Google will mail a postcard to the address you list so that it can verify the physical address you've provided. This process generally takes about three weeks.
- Once you've signed up for Google Places, it's time to begin adding your business name, address, and phone number to as many directories and listing agents as possible. Remember, the more citations that your business has, the higher it will be ranked in the search engine.
- Seek out your local Chamber of Commerce or county or city business listing sites and register with those as well. These types of organizations add credibility because it's difficult to establish a relationship with them if you don't actually own said business.
- When entering the description of the kind of business you own and operate and what services you provide, be as detailed as possible and use concrete, fundamentally sound language. For example, CoolPro does all kinds of work for the home or office, including repairs, changing light bulbs, and building bookshelves is a bit vague and poorly written. For this, try something like: CoolPro is a full-service contracting company providing all levels of repair and construction for home or office.
- Be sure to add your business citations to local business directories, such as Ecity.com. While these may have less traffic, "citations" from authoritative directories will count toward search engine rankings and they will add credibility to your business on the Internet.
- Maintain consistency. This is mentioned a few times because it's that important. If you don't keep your listing information consistent - meaning exactly the same for every citation- then you won't earn the positive ranking in search results. For example, 17 Morton Drive, Unit B is different than 17 Morton Dr, Apt B. Every detail matters.
What to Avoid When Building Business Citations
While the process of building business citations is relatively simple and straightforward, that doesn't mean that there aren't pitfalls to be wary of. As noted above, if you have a home based business but tend to rely on a post office box to receive mail from suppliers, clients, or others, this won't help your page ranking. If you're simply not willing to list your physical address, then won't be an effective marketing strategy for you and will end up being a missed opportunity.
Also avoid using toll-free phone numbers, such as (800), (866), (888). These numbers aren't geographically specific and therefore you could operate your business in Kansas and try to market New York City.
Avoid using phone number tracking. When you are using a number of different SEO or other marketing strategies, clients call a specific phone number (different for each strategy) that allows the business to track where the client saw the ad or message. With many different tracking numbers, verification becomes diluted and the numbers won't match, even if they're close or in sequence.
Be aware if you pay a service to set business citations up for you. While there are plenty of businesses that promise great results, setting up business citations is simple, though sometimes time consuming. If you provide the right information, positive results are possible, but nothing is guaranteed when it comes to SEO.
Don't list multiple locations or addresses. Even if you have several locations across the country, choose one to focus on for your business citations. This should be your main office or headquarters. According to Google, this along with multiple phone numbers (such as tracking numbers) confuses consumers and dilutes the ranking your business could receive.
Get Started Now
When you want your business to gain high search engine rankings locally, local business citations are an important aspect in that marketing strategy. Once you get started, you'll move closer to gaining that coveted first page ranking.