by Ray Larson

What is a business citation and why do you need to know about them for marketing your business online?

Citations are references to your business on the web. Specifically these are mentions of your NAPS: Name, Address, Phone, and State (and city). These mentions show up in directories (Yellow Pages, Super Pages), location services (Foursquare), review sites (Yelp, Best of the Web) and associations such as your local chamber of commerce.

Citations help search engines categorize your business. Remember, search engines, like your target audience, make a judgment about your firm’s trust (a quality ranking of the product/service you offer as compared to competitors), reputation (the information associated with your business) and subject authority (how influential your firm is judged to be). Search engines must make a decision that you are who you say you are. Citations are an important part of this decision process.

Citations are increasingly important for local SEO

How important? In the annual survey of SEOs for their ranking of search factors ( 2014 Local Search Ranking Factor survey) citations, as external local signals (15% influence) and their on-web page presence (21% influence as a part of this category) proved their attention. The more citations found on the web (high quality citations-we’ll get to that shortly) for your firm, the more relevant the search engines deem your firm as the answer to queries essential to your customers. With more and more searches originating from mobile devices it’s even more essential. Thus, It’s imperative to get your company’s name, location, and phone number out on the web and on your own website as well (in the footer preferably).

Does this mean you need to get your NAPS out everywhere on the web? No, it’s more important to get your information out to quality sites. Quality means well established directories aggregators and industry associations that possess high domain authority (a numerical measure of a website’s ability to rank in the SERPs) Here’s where we recommend you spend your efforts.

  • Data aggregators- Data aggregators feed business information to search engines such as Google and Bing, and local directories as well. The most important of these are InfogroupNeustar LocalezeAcxiom, and Factual.
  • Online directories- Think of these as the “yellow pages” for this century. Yellow PagesSuper Pages, and Hotfrog are all directories your NAPs need to show up in.
  • Location services- Yelp and Foursquare are location services that allow clients to check in. The major search engines index both. FYI Foursquare then sends this location on to other web properties, Pinterest amongst them. Though the search engines have limited access to Facebook, Facebook check-in allows users to alert their friends of a visit to your business. You’ll need to have a complete Facebook business profile, with the NAPS completed.
  • Others- Industry trade associations are perfect places to insure you claim your business listing (and they usually posses high domain authority). Local chambers of commerce are a must do for your NAPS. Finally, are you involved in local charities that have a website? Make sure your business listing as a benefactor is accurate and complete (you should also always request a link back to your site from their normally very high domain authority websites).

Claiming directory listings is time consuming

A note of caution: most of these directories will attempt to sign you up for paid listings. Most are not worth it. We suggest you claim your free listing and then move on to the next directory. It’s also very time consuming, so much so that we now offer citation services to all our clients (email us at mailto:rlarson@vendesocial.com).

Business directories for your business citations

These are just some of the places your business citations need to show up.

Remember that directory listings are only a tactic of an overall online marketing strategy. What will your future buyers find on your website when they arrive? Does your website experience facilitate trust, prove your subject authority, and build up your brand reputation?

If you’re unsure, have us take a look at your website. Sign up for our complimentary “No BS Website Consultation.”