If you want your business to reach the top of search engine results, business listings and citations should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. They build an online presence by increasing visibility and ultimately driving more traffic to your company via website visits, phone calls, and more. This blog will provide tips on how to use business listings and citations for maximum SEO impact.
What are Business Listings & Citations?
In local search engine optimization (SEO), a listing or citation is the mention of a company's name, address, and phone number (frequently referred to as NAP) on websites that are not owned by the business.
Why are Business Listings & Citations Important for SEO?
The aim of business listings is to make it easier for people to find companies that provide the services and products they're looking for in a particular location. Search engine algorithms evaluate the credibility of your business information based on the consistency and quality of your business listings and citations. Inaccuracies are likely to have a negative impact on your website ranking. In fact, Google has made it clear that citations are a factor in the company’s ranking algorithm.
How to Create Effective Business Listings & Citations
Business listing platforms have different requirements, and some are easier to create than others. Here are some tips to help you create effective business listings to boost your SEO results:
Research your competitors: Check out business listings for your local competitors to see what they’re doing right and what they could do better. This will help you pinpoint the ideal format for your own business listings.
Create a plan: Decide which directories you want to prioritize, and develop a strategy to get more citations for your business. Also, plan how you want to monitor and update your citations, so you can react to changes and user-generated content.
Use consistent information: While different business listing platforms require different information, it’s important to ensure the website URL and company name, address, and phone number are consistent across listings.
Benefits of Business Listings & Citations
Compared to paid social, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, and other methods to drive traffic to your website online, using a business directory to achieve this goal is extremely cost-effective. Many directories allow local businesses to create listings free of charge.
Business listings and citations are beneficial for a number of reasons, including:
Increased visibility: Enhanced visibility is one of the main benefits of using business listings and obtaining citations. This means more people can find your business and ultimately visit your website.
Improved trustworthiness: When your business information is listed on different websites, it helps improve your business's trustworthiness rating, which is important for converting website visitors and ranking on search engines.
Better click-through rates: The use of business listings and citations can help increase your click-through rates (CTR). This is because your listings and citations can provide more information about your business along with a link that goes straight to your website.
Higher conversion rates: Your business listings and citations can also help improve your conversion rates. This is because they provide potential customers with more information, which makes it easier for them to trust your business, and become paying customers.
8 Tips for Optimizing Business Listings & Citations
When you’re optimizing your business listings, you need to think about every aspect of your strategy. This includes the choice of which directories you’re going to list on, the exactness and similarity of the given data, as well as the amount of information that’s included. It’s critical to stick with a consistent procedure that takes into consideration all elements of the listing when optimizing existing listings or creating new ones.
Maintain Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) Consistency: The name you use in your business listing is very important. The most common mistake that businesses make is using the name they’re commonly known by, as opposed to the name that they operate under. For example, if your business is named “ABC Company”, but your customers know you as “ABC Store”, the citation should use the latter name. Citations are meant to be consistent, so make sure that you’re listing the same address, phone number, business hours, etc. across all of your business listings and citations.
Work on your business description: To ensure your listings are functioning at their maximum potential, make sure your business description is optimized. Furthermore, a brief yet descriptive summary is beneficial for Google and other search engines, as it allows them to determine which local searches your business should be ranked for.
List your website: While it’s important to be consistent with your information, it’s also critical to ensure that your citations link to your website. This matters because it helps establish your online presence, which is one of the main objectives of using business listings and citations.
Create your citations early: It can take time for your citations to be approved, so it’s important to create them early in the lifespan of your business.
Prioritize high-value directories: While you may want to create as many business listings and citations as possible, it’s crucial to prioritize the ones that are most important, and have the highest value. Directories in your local community or focused on your particular industry are great starting points.
Build consistent, high-quality content: Another tip for effectively using business listings and citations is to create consistent, high-quality content that's easy to understand on your business listings. Additionally, optimize your citations by including photos, descriptions, and website links to reduce steps for users and improve rankings.
Use backlinks: Whenever your business is mentioned or cited, make sure to incorporate a backlink from a dependable and reliable source that has a high ranking. Backlinks are beneficial as they indicate to search engines that other sites are endorsing the website. Pages with many high-quality backlinks have a higher probability of being listed at the top of search results.
Customer reviews make a difference: Reviews can increase the number of people who click on your business listing. Even if your listing is not as prominent as another, if your reviews are better, it can generate more interest in your business. Reviews can also have a positive impact on your SEO, ensuring potential customers can find you. Positive reviews demonstrate to your customers that you are reliable and trustworthy. Encourage reviews from your customers and always respond to reviews good or bad.
Platforms for Managing Business Listings & Citations
Google reigns supreme for search engine usage, with a colossal 92% of the market compared to the other search engines (e.g. Bing). And 89% of consumers use Google for local business information. Therefore, it’s essential to give it the most attention. This means to capture that audience, whether to build awareness or for local searches (home services near me, plastic surgeons in [city], etc.), you’ll need a Google Business Profile listing. Because it’s so crucial, we’ll go into more depth on Google in this blog.
Google Business Profiles: Google Business Profiles or GBP (formerly Google My Business) offer business owners the opportunity to create a free listing that helps feed business information to Google Maps, Local Pack, or the Knowledge Panel for branded and service/product-related search queries. GBP is the most popular business listing and citation directory and is a great resource for managing your business listings and citations.
What can you do with Google Business Profiles:
The GBP platform is free of charge and is considered an open-source platform.
Businesses can claim and manage their GBP listings online.
GBP listings allow both businesses and the public to add information, leave reviews, upload photos, suggest changes, and more
The business information in Google's platforms is compiled from a variety of sources:
Public information (e.g. websites).
Licensed data from third parties (e.g. YEXT).
Users who provide factual information (e.g. addresses and telephone numbers) and content (e.g. photos and reviews), including business owners who claim profiles through Google Business Profile.
Information based on Google’s interactions with a business.
Bing Places for Business: Bing's business listing and citation management tool allows you to create and manage your business listings and citations for Bing. When you set up your Google Business Profile page before your Bing page, you can transfer the information. A pro tip is to wait until you've received your Google verification, as this means your business is automatically verified on Bing, saving time.
Yelp for Business: Yelp is one of the biggest user-generated review sites, and it’s ideal for small and medium-sized businesses. To get the most out of Yelp for Business, establish a free profile and make sure to answer all comments and questions related to your profile.
Yext: The Yext platform allows you to create your own content, as well as provide access to a network of nearly two hundred third-party publishers. Through direct API integration, you can display data such as contact information, images, and publisher-specific fields in a two-way synchronization.
How to Monitor the Performance of Business Listings & Citations
To ensure your business listings are as effective as possible, it’s important to monitor their performance, so that you can make adjustments as needed. This is especially critical if you’re using multiple tools to manage your business listings and citations, as it will allow you to determine which directories are performing best, and which require improvement.
Monitoring business listings and citations performance:
Track citations: To properly monitor your business listings and citations, it's important to track them so that you can see how many exist, where they're located, and who manages them.
Monitor rankings: Another way to monitor your business listings and citations is to monitor your rankings. This can be done with tools like Google Search Console.
Google Business Profile Dashboard: The Google Business Profile Dashboard is another effective way to monitor your business listings and citations.
How Footprint™ Core70 Citations from High Level Marketing can Help
With Footprint’s Core70 technology, your business information (including NAP - Name, Address, and Phone information) is published to over seventy credible directories and maintained constantly. Google connects the dots and pushes your website to the top of organic searches due to this automated directory management.
The Local Page in the Footprint Dashboard gives you a breakdown of the most important metrics from your Google Business Profile - across all locations. You can view Google’s search data over the last 30 days, and get a sense of what your customers see in Google Maps in search results.
The Bottom Line
Business listings and citations are an essential part of any online marketing strategy. They’re one of the most effective ways to increase the visibility of your business, which in turn can lead to more customers, better conversions, and ultimately, more leads for your business.
In addition, it's important to develop a strategy that takes into account the needs, goals, and expectations of your business when creating and managing listings. This will help you determine which directories best meet your business needs, and increase your chances of ranking well on search engines.
Google searches are the #1 source of online traffic.