Business directory listings are fundamental to any successful SEO campaign. Adding your information to these listings is especially important for small businesses that want to be found online.
Think of directory listings as any place on the internet that mentions your name, address and phone number (“NAP”). These mentions of your business information are referred to as “citations.”
However, it’s important to clarify the different types of citations: structured vs. unstructured. An unstructured citation is any mention of your business on websites that don’t serve as listing directories (i.e. social media, blogs, etc.).
Structured citations are mentions of your NAP on actual listing directories.
What are Directory Listings?
Websites like Yahoo, Google & Yellow Pages are perfect examples of directory listings. They all act as online phone books for the web, holding extensive amounts of business information, including NAP data (name, address, phone number).
Google is arguably the most popular and important directory listing. All businesses should have their information added to a Google My Business page. Check out How to Setup Google My Business if you haven’t done that already.
“Citation building” is the act of adding your business information to these directory listings. This is especially important when building a successful local search marketing campaign. Sending out consistent, accurate and relevant information to these websites helps search engines and consumers know when, how and where to find your business.
Why Should I Create Citations?
In order for your business to rank higher in search engines (i.e. Google and Bing), a key factor is the number of links pointing your website. These links pointing back to your website are called “backlinks.”
Creating citations on directory listings is a great way to create backlinks to your website. With more websites mentioning your business, search engines will start to pick that up.
Web crawlers are constantly searching directory listings for citations and links. When they find links to your website, it builds credibility and improves your rank in the eyes of Google, Bing, etc.
Beyond the SEO benefits of directory listings, they also serve a purpose for consumers too. Customers are constantly searching directory listings for local businesses. That’s why it’s important to have your business information available and displayed accurately.
The Importance of Consistent NAP
Google and other searching engines use directory listings to cross reference information about your business when people search for you.
When search engines find different information about your business, it hurts your rank in search engines. Google will look at these inconsistencies and rank you lower than another business with accurate information.
So, if you’ve ever moved or changed phone numbers, remember to check that your information is accurately displayed across the web.
By accurately placing your NAP on several directory listings, you will be able to get your details in front of the consumers looking for you while creating more links pointing back to your business. This will in turn fundamentally improve your local SEO.
Building Valuable Local SEO Citations
Before your start adding your business’s NAP to every directory listing out there, remember that some listings are more valuable than others.
To get started, check out this article 21 Web Directories That Still Have Value. You will find some popular directory listings that can provide real value to your business.
By starting with these core listings, you will be able to cover the most popular places people search for business information. Besides, you probably don’t have time to create citations for every single directory listing out there.
The goal is to aim for quality over quantity when building citations. And remember, that also means keeping your information (specifically your NAP) consistent across the web!
About WebWorks LA
Are you a business owner that needs help with directory listings? WebWorks LA can help you get started. We are based in Los Angeles and have helped many clients build successful SEO campaigns. If you’re interested in starting a new project, submit your project details here.