Citations for SEO and Local Search Marketing
Business listings, aka Citations, are a great way to improve search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your website. Read this article to learn about leveraging the power of online business listings for better SEO reults in 2023.
Citations are one of the strongest elements you can use to improve rankings on Google. If you own or manage a business there is no doubt that you’ve had some exposure to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The pure purpose of SEO is to refine and improve (optimize) your website’s content, code, and performance. Ideally, this results in earning higher search engine rankings for targeted keywords and search phrases.
A top way to optimize your online presence is to develop your business listings (citation building). Online business listings are generally a key part of improving local search marketing, as they often serve to reach local customers. A secondary benefit is that most of the
internet business listings, at least from trusted websites, can also boost your Google rankings.
What is Citation Building
Citation building is the process of creating business listings and profiles on trusted, third-party websites. As search engines find more and more pages about your business it gains an inferred level of credibility (improve domain authority!). A critical success factor in citation building is having consistency in the business profile information you provide.
A recent article published on the Search Engine Journal website defines Local Citation as, "…online mentions of your company – linked or unlinked – which include your business address, contact information, and in some cases, your website."1 The article expands this definition with content to describe types of citations.
Maximizing Benefits of Citation Building
Profiles with complete information, especially links to your website, help with SEO. Customer reviews on these sites can further boost your online reputation and boost consumer confidence.
A Beginner’s Guide published at Search Engine Journal explains the types of information you need for a complete business listing. Specifically, the article identifies the need for name/address/phone number (NAP), business description, website link, business category, business photos 2.
Types of Business Listing Sites
There are different types of business listings and business profiles. The best business listing websites are sites which enable you to add the most information and upload photos of your business. Adding more content to your business listing adds value which can affect improved search engine visibility.
At a top level, you will find citations referred to as “Structured Citations” and “Unstructured Citations”. Among these two categories, you could further divide them into other types. Generally speaking, the type of citation website does not matter nearly as much as the overall quality of the actual citation website
For more information on Structured vs. Unstructured Citations you should read an article published by Whitespark, a quality vendor for citation building. In summary, the article differentiates these two as, “A structured citation is your business information (NAP) on a business listing directory. ” and “An unstructured citation is your business information (NAP) on any other site that’s not specifically a business listing directory.”3.
- Search Engine Business Profiles on Google Business Profile, Bing Places for Business, and DuckDuckGo Local results.
- Business Listing Websites Yelp, City Search, Better Business Bureau, and industry specific websites.
- Directory Listings on Superpages, YP.com, YellowMoxie and other internet yellow pages type websites.
- Social Media Business Profiles on social media sites including Facebook, Linkedin, and similar platforms.
If you dig deep enough online, you will find thousands of potential websites for citation building. A very large percentage of these are low value / low quality websites that should be ignored. In reality, having backlinks from websites with low domain authorty or trust can actually harm your rankings. Unless your business operates internationally, it’s almost a certainty that you should not bother with citations outside of your home country.
Try This – Create 5 Business Profile Listings Here
If you’re interested in how to build citations and backlinks there is an abundance of articles to be found online. Below we have listed five citation sites that will acquaint you with different types of citation sites.
Benefits of Creating Online Business Listings
Increased Lead Generation is almost a certainty when you are listed in a large number of places, with a well-developed business profile.
Brand Development is strengthened when search engine users see your business name more often. A highly visible brand can earn more consumer confidence which can drive lead generation.
Boost Search Engine Ranking with backlinks from trusted websites. Links from your business listing to your website is a proven way to get higher ranking.
Targeted Engagement when you have a business profile on websites that are specific to your profession or industry. Many of the industry specific websites already have good search engine ranking. Being listed on these websites assures that your listing will be found by people searching for your kind of business.
Cost Effective Advertising is a huge benefit. While most of these sites offer paid advertising option (such as featured placement) almost all websites have opportunities for free business listings.
Timely Customer Engagement can help you drive leads and increase sales. Business llisting sites sometimes allow you to post business updates, announcements, and promotional content.
Competitive Advantages which include getting noticed more and influencing potential customers who may otherwise call your competitors.
Business Listing Services – Good or Bad?
A common conundrum for business owners and managers is how to manage the whole business listing project. Your choices are Do-It-Yourself or pay a Listing Management Company. Here is a quick comparison, with pros and cons, of each approach to building business listings.
Do It Yourself Listings Management
It is possible to create and manage most business listings on your own. There is small number of profile sites than can be accessed only through certain listings management services. In most cases, the “restricted sites” are of lower SEO value. Missing these sites is no big deal.
Control and Cost Savings are the primary reasons you may want to do your own business listing work. Initially there is a fairly substantial time investment to build an adequate number of profile pages. Moving forward, you should plan to spend 1-2 hours a month for ongoing creation of profiles.Pay for Listings Management Services
Convenience is really the only reason to subscribe to a listings management service. It’s easy to subscribe and providing the required information should take 2-4 hours. The physical process of creating listings is automated. Making global updates is as simple as revising the information in your business info template.
Depending on the service you choose, you may be very limited on the number and quality of sites on which they can create listings. It’s very common that these services do not create business listings on some of the most important, high-value websites. To get profiles on these sites, and continue improving your SEO, you will need to start over with a better provider, or do the work yourself.
It’s important to know that your annual cost can easily be close to $1,000, and continue year after year. If you stop using the service, you can almost always expect all of your listings to be degraded or lost.
Hire a Local Search Marketing Agency
Cost Effective, Convenient, and Elements of Control are the top reasons to hire a local search agency to manage the process for you.
The convenience factor is that they do the work for you and the quality should be top-notch. Your involvement is generally limited to initially providing business specific information, logo, and company photos.
The cost efficiency is that you pay afor the work that is done, and usually will not have the “forever payments” of working with a listings service.
The control element is found in the listings that are manually created for you. If you decide to stop working with the agency, the listings are no longer maintained, however; the agency does not degrade or delete listings. The sole exception is that an agency may be a partner (reseller) for a listings management company.
Citations, including business profiles and listings, are an excellent way to expand your online visibility and boost your organic ranking. If you would like help with Citation building, we invite you to call us at 770-429-5300.
- 1 Julia Mc Coy, “A Guide to Local Citation Building”, November 25, 2019, Available from Search Engine Journal
- 2 John McAlpin, “Citations & Local SEO: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide”, February 10, 2020, Available from Search Engine Journal
- 3 Darren Shaw, “What is a Local Citation?”, May 24, 2017, Available from Whitespark
- Main photo courtesy of Mikael Blomkvist on Pexels.com