We’re often asked, “Can you help us with our directory listings?”
And we say, “Of course we can, with pleasure! We can even execute the process of submitting your details and individually verifying them to each citation source. You’re welcome.”
[At least that’s how the conversation plays out in our heads]
On that note, we’re going to talk about those little old things called Citations. You know, the stuff necessary for cultivating excellent local SEO; but what many of us understandably find a tad confusing.
Let’s clear all that up!
What ARE Citations?
Put simply: a citation links your business to your business location, most importantly on Google Maps. The association between your business and its geographical location boosts your local SEO and GMB ranking, so that customers can find your physical location and website, and give you their money.
So, particularly if you run a local business, you should pay attention to what we say next.
The main way to circulate a citation for your business is to add it to a directory website – one that has high authority, like Yelp. Sometimes, these sites will also deliver your citation to other directory sites as well, spreading the word of your business’s most important basic details across the web.
What are those basic details?
That will be your NAP.
Name, Address, and Phone number.
This is what customers need to actually find your business – which is, of course, crucial for you to make money; especially as a brick-and-mortar establishment.
Google draws your NAP from directory sites and elsewhere around the web, sees that you’re the real deal, and knows it can place you higher in local search rankings and via GMB listings.
GMB: What to Do
Your business’s GMB (Google My Business) listing is incredibly important as a local business. You need to create it, fill it out 100%, and get it verified, so potential customers can find out about you via their internet searches.
You want your business’s website, Michael’s Manchester Mechanics, to pop up first when someone searches for ‘mechanics in Manchester’, right?
For this to happen, Michael, you need to fill out your GMB listing in full.
I underline this for emphasis, because there are a whole bunch of people who don’t bother to do this!
Add photographs, services, price listings, opening hours – everything. The more information you can provide, the better.
Because when your incomplete GMB listing goes up, other rival businesses with all the relevant data in their listings get prioritised ahead of yours. Too bad, Michael.
The takeaway here is, you guessed it: fill out your GMB properly!
You can have that advice for free. Thank us later.
How to Improve Your Google Maps Rankings
- Optimise your GMB with pictures. Make your pictures JPGs and name the files relevantly. For example, on a picture of your bakery’s shop front, you’d name it ‘Front of Bakery.JPG’. Then, ADD GEOTAGS!
- Be detailed with your photos. As a general rule, get 3 photos of the outside of your establishment, 3 of the inside, 3 of yourself at work and your team, and some other relevant miscellaneous, like products, advertisements, or tools.
If you don’t have a location – for instance, if you are a mobile plumber, or work from home – you might take photos of your van on your driveway, or in streets around your service area, or of the inside your home office, if you understandably don’t want to upload pictures of your home’s exterior. Again, also use photos of your products/tools/services/staff.
- Build high quality citations. We’ll flesh this out further in this guide.
- Get a review generation strategy. On your GMB, you’ll have a customer-generated review ranking. Like this:
And you obviously want yours to be 5 stars.
To get this, you need to provide great customer service so people naturally give you great reviews; but you can boost it with a strategy. There’s a helpful guide about this here.
How Do I Get Citations?
You can list your business on hundreds of directories yourself… or you could ask SEOButler to do it for you! We have a database full of authoritative directories that we can use to synchronise your citations to in a flash.
We’re in the business of helping clients with the tedious process of creating lists of citation sources to submit, that are both niche and geo-specific.
What does that mean?
Niche = relevant to your type of business. Michael’s Manchester Mechanics’ citations will be circulated to directories that specialise in all things vehicles and engineering.
Geo-specific = relevant to your location. We’ll therefore place Michael’s citations in directories serving the UK, so that local customers can find him.
Another good one is by video distribution. Create a short video about your business (30 seconds will do), upload that video to different sites (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), add your NAP in the description, build links; and off you go!
Other methods of getting citations for your business include listing your NAP on your social media pages, circulating Press Releases, and putting it just about anywhere on the web that customers might look for your Name, Address and Phone number.
Also note: in general, you should have an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM of 50-100 authoritative, relevant citations to enjoy an effect on your SEO. It would take a lot of time to circulate these to authoritative directories yourself.
So, you know what to do. Send us a message and we’ll do the whole thing for you.
Why Don’t All My Citations Go Live Instantly?
This is an FAQ we get a lot, usually in the form of:
“Why aren’t all citations live directly after submission?” and, “Why do you share them with us as a screen-share of instead of a live link?”
This, unfortunately, is due to the amount of spammy requests that the directories get on a daily basis, so a lot of directories have decided to no longer allow automatically verified submissions.
This means that the submissions can take up to 6 weeks to be reviewed by a site administrator. You can check for these yourself, or just email us asking us to, which we will of course oblige!
Once your citations have gone live, though, we usually ping them to make sure citations index nicely and start working their magic for you!
What Happens if My Business Changes its NAP?
Ah. There you have a slight problem, sir. It’s incredibly important that your citations are consistent – Google is easily confused in this area.
Another question we get asked almost daily is:
“My customer has moved addresses and their citations are all over the place, can you clean this up for me?”
Citation clean-up (changing all your citations to your new NAP) is a tedious process, but worth the trouble. See, if you have 500 mismatching NAPs across the web, it’s harder for potential customers to find your true details, and hard for Google to know ones are correct.
It’s best to leave this one to the experts.
Here’s a hypothetical case study. Let’s assume your customer has moved around a bit, and has citations in different directories with all kinds of different NAP details. These inconsistencies are not exactly ideal for their rankings.
But, all is not lost!
Here is how you can begin to fix it:
In the (rare) event that your customer has a full record of every citation they have created, and has taken note of the login details for all, you can then log in to each one and edit them.
Unfortunately, most clients will not have those details. Without record of the citations, you can only claim/edit about 10-20% of all live listings immediately.
Once you have cleared up what you can, the best method is to email the admins of each directory and ask them to remove/update your listing.
This is the cleanest method of updating the NAP details on the directory, achieving the best results for you. It may take a while, but if you act fast, all your citations could point in the right direction within about 6 weeks.
Again, this is a process that SEOButler will gladly take off your hands – we do this all the time! Get in touch today for ALL things citations.