List Small Businesses: A Guide to Scoring Valuable Business Citations

Business citations are necessary for any successful business. No matter the size, service, or supply, local citations or lack thereof hold weight on a business. A local citation is any time that your business’s name, phone number, or address is mentioned online. Essentially, it’s your business’s blueprint on the internet.

Whether you prefer to browse through business directories or social media networks, citations are sure to be present. Citations are known to be in places where there may be any and all information about a local business. Shown below is an example of exactly this:

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This example is a NAP citation, which is defined as a citation that shows the place’s address, name, and phone number. This article will teach you more about the importance of local citations, the different types that there are, how to develop citations for your own business, and just how important accuracy and consistency are in an endeavor like this.

Why Businesses’ Listings Are More Important Than You Think

There are two main reasons why every business owner needs to consider the importance of citations for his or her own personal success. Firstly, it gives a business the opportunity to rank higher in local search queries a.k.a helping it with local search engine optimization. Another critical advantage of local citations is that they help people discover and explore your business online with only a few clicks of a button.

If you’ve ever wondered how search engines confirm the existence and legitimacy of all the different businesses that flood our screens these days, citations are your answer. SEO local citations work in the same way that SEO works. If there are consistent details, keywords, and facts that span across multiple websites about your local business, Google is more likely to be confident in your business’s existence and operation.

It’s important to note, though, that just because you can get local citations, it does not equate to a huge increase of your local rankings. Of course, there are perks that come along with it, but if you’re hoping for this method to be your end all be all, you might have to look elsewhere. Learning how and when to use it is the best thing you can do for your business.

People are more likely to discover your business if you’re listed on multiple sites. Business listings dominate the world wide web, typically showing up as the top results of every search. If your business is listed on a site like Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc., the chances of someone clicking on your service increases substantially. Being cited allows you this boost of recognition.

Different Types of Local Citations

There are mainly two types of citations that you can choose for your business. One is structured and the other is, you guessed it, unstructured. Structured citations are the more popularized options, being where you list your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). A few examples of structured citations are social media profiles or directory listings.

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Unstructured citations are when there is a contextual mention of your business. The typical NAP is not outlined in a specific, usual place for the website but rather included somewhere in the content of the page. Unstructured citations are usually included in blogs, forums, or in the press.

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Why Consistency Is Key

It’s important to maintain your citations in a consistent and accurate manner for multiple reasons. Whether you find your business in a structured citation or unstructured citations, all the information needs to remain consistent across the internet. For example, having your business’s phone number differ on a blog post versus Yelp can be detrimental in trying to generate more customers.

Not only will the trust of your consumers waver due to their inability to find your business in one, consistent place, but it can potentially confuse people who stumble on a mention of your company. The point of local citations is to put your name, address, and phone number on the internet and hope for some clicks. If that essential information is not consistent or accurate, you may very well lose key clientele.

If your business lacks this kind of consistency, local SEO may suffer as well. It will become more difficult to categorize and personalize information about your business if Google can’t systematically come to a cohesive conclusion about it due to a spread of misinformation.

According to a study done in 2018 on local citations, 80% of consumers and their trust wavered, especially in local businesses, if they found inconsistent contact information or business names online. If your business decides to partake in citations for websites, it is crucial that you have one set of information on every platform.

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How to Build SEO Local Citations Yourself

There is not much to building your own citations. Having a mix of both structured and unstructured is good for your business; it allows for a diversity of potential consumers. But something that many small businesses don’t understand starting off is that citations do not need to be included on every website a business finds itself on.

Having too many citations can be overkill and won’t bring in the masses that you think it will. Instead of prioritizing how many citations you have out there, it is important to make sure that all your citations are of good quality on quality websites. Rather than plopping an NAP on the most irrelevant of websites, using industry-specific platforms as the playground is a decent strategy.

If you offer a specific service like healthcare, legal care, or real estate, you would be better off with navigating to websites like Wellness.com, HG.org, or Zillow.com. The people who are on these sites are more likely to find your citation useful and convenient for exactly what they were in search of.

Camberlion’s Local SEO service is also a great method of getting started. We can guide your business when it comes to local citations. Luckily, we also provide other services such as increasing business visibility by taking a managed approach to local SEO, helping you stand out online, and we provide marketing services.

Here are the four steps to list your business online:

Step 1 – Prioritize Your Listing with Big Data Aggregators

Business listings are all over the internet. Therefore, relying on business owners to submit their NAP information directly is unrealistic and a hassle. There would be misinformation and lost data everywhere because of just how many businesses are out there.

Data aggregators are the solution to this problem. They list small businesses by collecting all the information about your business that you want to include in a citation, and then they distribute this information to multiple other websites. Data aggregators take the phrase ‘sharing is caring’ to the next level.

There are three main aggregators in the US today. These include Express Update, Neustar Localeze, and Factual. With Express Update and Neustar Localeze, it is completely free for a business to claim, submit, and manage its business listings. With Factual, though, businesses cannot update or edit their listings directly. Businesses have to work with a data contributor for a small fee.

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To make this process easier for you and your business, it is recommended to go with the free options because you will be able to access information quickly and efficiently on your own accord.

In learning how to make better use of data aggregators, your small business can excel in optimization and, specifically, in SEO. Information about your business can reach places that you would not be able to access if not using this resource. It increases the chances of including your business information on more listings as well as generating more consumers.

Step 2 – Other Core Sites Are Your Best Friend

Although the top three data aggregators can influence the span of your business in a positive way, they don’t reach the ends of the Earth. There are many sites that your NAP information will not be able to reach using these top three data aggregators. Because of this, submitting to other core sites can be useful.

Examples of these other sites in the US include Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, and Apple Maps. There are many websites that list small businesses that may be the right fit for your own business.

You should consider which specific websites are worthy of your citation, though. There are a few that do not receive as much traffic as others, making them useless in trying to expand your business.

There are two ways to submit your citations to other core sites. You can submit manually or using a submission and management service. To do it manually, you would need to look up your business on every site that you want to include a citation on. There should be an option to either edit the information on the site or add it if it’s not there.

You also have the option to claim the listing to add even more information highlighting your business. Some websites will allow you to include extra things like photos and other details after you’ve claimed it. From there, you can learn the best ways to advertise your business and then do it for the whole world to see!

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There is also the opportunity to go the submission and management service route if you don’t want to engage in the mundane task of going from website to website. There are certain companies that integrate with well-known sites directly and allow you to submit your citations in one place to be dispersed everywhere else.

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Although there is a cost included, companies like BrightLocal and Whitespark make the process a lot easier.

Step 3 – Submit to Different Sites

The next step is propelling your business into the realm of popular industry and local sites. This is where your citations land on more specific and niche websites. Knowing which websites you want to include your business on is one thing, but it’s a whole process to find the opportunity to stamp your citations on them.

As with many things in life, you can use Google. Simply search things like [location] business directory or [industry] business listings to find more specific sites to put your citations on. You can also use an industry citations list which can be found on websites like BrightLocal.

By using a Local SEO service, you’ll also be guided through this process and finding niche sites will be a breeze.

Step 4 – Try Unstructured Citations

As mentioned before, unstructured citations are typically included on a webpage through a contextual mention whether it be via the press, a blog post, or a forum about your business. They are more difficult to get in comparison to structured citations because of this. These types of local citations are written by someone who has chosen to highlight your business for some reason.

Unstructured citations hold so much weight for SEO because they usually include a backlink to the business’s website as well as a ‘followed’ link. They basically drive the consumer to your business without you having to do as much as lift a finger.

One way to get unstructured citations is through supplier pages. Supplier pages are where there are lists and links of companies that they supply to, or that supply to them. You can find these on Google by making a list of your suppliers, locating their websites, and then searching something along the lines of site: yoursupplier.com intitle: “suppliers” or site: yoursupplier.com intitle: “clients”.

You can also resort to a HARO (Help A Reporter Out). HARO links journalists with different sources for their upcoming stories. All you would need to do is sign up, receive the daily email alerts that contain questions from journalists, answer and give a quote, and then get cited in their upcoming article.

Lastly, you could always find citation opportunities by looking for your competitors’ backlinks. By searching through trends, links, and citations on their sites, you can find a lot of useful information that can bring you to their level or higher. Ahref is also a website you can use to find information and marketing opportunities about your business and others.

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