In the digital age, your brand’s web presence should be high on your list of priorities. If your online reputation is lacking or your business is difficult to find on the internet, it’ll be significantly harder for you to connect with your customers.
While there are numerous ways to improve your brand awareness online, one of the easiest options is to focus on citations. Listing your business in relevant directories can raise your profile online, add legitimacy to your brand, and guide consumers to your business when seeking relevant solutions.
But what exactly are citations? And why are they important to the success of your organization? Let’s take a closer look below.
What Are Online Directories?
First, we’ll need to define citations and online directories.
An online directory is a website that lists business information, usually by category or location. You can think of these as the digital version of the phone book (there’s even a Yellow Pages website that mimics the original printed directory).
Many of these directories are submission-based, meaning that business owners take responsibility for entering some basic information about their brand to the website for review and subsequent approval.
Citations refer to the business listings that appear in these kinds of directories. Sometimes, the term “citation” is used interchangeably with “directory.”
In other words, a citation website and an online directory are essentially the same thing. But citations specifically refer to the listings themselves, which contain basic information such as your “NAP” (name, address, and phone number). Many online directories allow you to add even more information about your business that customers will find useful.
Some common examples of online directories include Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business), Yelp, Facebook, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, Foursquare, and many others.
Why Should You Use Citations For Your Business?
Now that you’re clear on what citations and online directories are, why do they matter?
Some business owners assume that if they list this same information on their website, they’re in the clear. And while Google will sometimes be able to pull that information to correctly display it to web users, that doesn’t always happen.
What’s more, your business might not always appear in every relevant search – especially those performed on a local level. And even if your website looks great, you might not have enough brand recognition to convince a prospective customer to choose you over a competitor.
That’s when citations come in handy. Online directories can significantly improve your brand visibility online because those listings often show up prominently in relevant search results. When that happens, you’ll receive a larger portion of traffic and increase your conversion rate.
Ultimately, citations can really help your SEO. They can also help build trust with your audience by providing your brand with greater authority. Finally, these directories deliver quick information that your target customers are looking for – which can translate into quicker sales for your business than if you were to rely on your website alone.
What Should You Remember When Using Directories?
You now know that online citation websites can heighten your profile, build credibility, and drive traffic and sales. But that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically reap those benefits whenever you use a listing directory.
In order to get the most out of this local SEO strategy, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.
- Focus on Relevance and Authority: Not all directories are created equal. There are a lot of different citation websites out there, but some are definitely better than others. Rather than waste your time listing your site in every directory imaginable, hone in on the ones that Google views as being most valuable and most relevant to your audience or your business. Make sure that every online directory site you use is pertinent and has a decent domain rating for best results.
- Ensure a Consistent NAP: Your business citations need to be consistent from platform to platform. If they aren’t, Google can easily get confused about which listings are accurate. Confusing listings equal less exposure, so you’ll want to keep this information the same across the board. At a bare minimum, double-check your NAP and eliminate any discrepancies (including small ones, like “Street” versus “St.”) to be on the safe side.
- Consider Getting Help: Although using online directories is fairly straightforward, developing and executing an effective strategy for local SEO may require more effort than you can give. Even keeping up with business listings and submissions can be a lot to handle. Using a service like Yext PowerListings can make it easier to submit numerous citations at once, but you may still need help with local SEO management to start seeing real progress. That way, you can focus on running your business while our experts handle your strategy behind the scenes.
Online citations aren’t the only way to promote your business on the web. But they can often raise your brand’s profile and perceived trustworthiness in a cost-effective manner. When developing your strategy for local SEO, consider leveraging the power of business directories.