By now you have probably heard of business local listings. If you’re old enough, you may even think they’re a bit like a directory listing in an old-fashioned phone book. (Never used a phone book? Keep reading anyway.)
In a nutshell, local listings on the web contain information about your business that helps customers find you and buy your product or service.
Actually, there are two different types of listings or citations as web aficionados call them.
- Structured citations: These are citations like your Google Business listing or a Yelp listing.
- Unstructured citations: In these, your business is referenced in a news article or on a webpage.
Of these two, you can control structured citations. So, you should ensure yours are complete and correct on all major platforms like Google, Yelp, Apple, Foursquare and InfoGroup. If you own a brick and mortar business, ensure customers can reach you easily in the real world by checking your listings on Uber, Lyft and Tomtom as well.
A basic local citation should include your business:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Hours of operation
You can also include a brief description of your business and photos or a logo to convey your business brand image.
If you have more than one physical location, make sure you check the accuracy of your local listings regularly.
Why are citations important?
The answer to this question depends on who you ask.
According to Chatmeter, a local brand management business, local listings are responsible for 45 percent of how local search sites determine their local search rankings.
Other experts contend that citations are most important as a customer service tool. Customers who encounter missing or incorrect information in an online citation can either get mad or frustrated with your business. Upset customers frequently tell others they are unhappy and eventually such mistakes can damage your brand.
Chatmeter says over 40 percent of customers abandon the search for a specific business and turn to an alternative when citation information is inaccurate.
In an article on searchengineland.com, Miram Ellis of search engine optimization (SEO) industry leader Moz says, “no business can afford to have its reputation tank because it’s neglecting basic accuracy. And of course, citations that contain reviews are reputation assets that must never be neglected!”
Recent data proving that citations help improve a business website’s search engine rankings is inconclusive. Some industry leaders say local listings are no longer as important as they once were in this area.
Darren Shaw of Whitespark, a SEO and programming business, recently conducted a local rankings case study. He says, “I think there is more testing required before we collectively give up on citations. We are starting on some of these tests at Whitespark, and we’ll keep the community posted.”
Read the entire article and discover what other industry leaders think about the impact maintaining accurate citations has on brand reputation and SEO rankings.
What should you do?
Whether or not citations vastly improve your website SEO, there are real customers out there depending on local listings to find you and do business with you.
You don’t want to disappoint or confuse them.
Make it easy for customers to do business with you and you will thrive. Take these steps:
- Verify your business listing on major platforms like Google, Yelp and any platform closely associated with your business industry (such as wellness.com or grubhub.com).
- Ensure your information is complete and accurate: You can make sure your information is accurate on most major platforms yourself with a little tedious clicking or you can hire an agency like Moz Local to do it for you. Most agencies will charge you a yearly subscription fee to keep your citations updated on major platforms.
- Assign your business a correct local business category. This is crucial. Be as specific as possible and use the search term that best describes your core business. See this article for more help.
- Remove or suppress duplicate listings: Duplicate listings confuse customers and search engines alike. Be sure to eliminate them. Check out Google Support for guidance.
- Improve the graphics or pictures associated with your listings: Customers can get turned off by low-quality or inaccurate images quickly.
Improve Your Online Presence
Want to improve your local listing power, but need help getting started? We founded Sublime Creations to help customers just like you get the answers they need. We are an eco-friendly company providing local and small businesses with website consultation, design and personalized training solutions. Contact me online or call me to schedule your free 30-minute consultation to discuss any business online listing questions you might have.