As a brick and mortar business, what options do you have if you want to market yourself to the local people?….. Yellowpages? Placing an advert in the local newspaper? Printing brochures and coupons?
While these and some other traditional media marketing methods were popular some time ago. It was because they were the only options available for small business owners to market themselves locally.
But things are a lot different now! With 87% of mobile owners using a search engine to find something at least once in a day, 50% of these people are searching for a local business online. So, it only makes sense to market your local business online as well to not lose out on potential business and gain some much-needed exposure.
But how do you do it? Local listings or citations!
A citation is an online mention of a name, address and phone number of a local business on local business directories, websites, apps and social platforms irrespective of it containing a link of the local business. And when a local business citation is submitted to a local business directory, it’s known as a local business listing.
Why do local citations matter?
Investing your time in setting up your local business citations accurately can affect your business in two ways –
1. Impacts Search Engine Rankings
The number of citations a local business has under its belt, its accuracy and the quality of platform they exist on can negatively or positively affect search engine rankings of a local business.
Google and other search engines keep a constant check on these citations for their accuracy and consistency across the world wide web and if any inaccuracy or inconsistency is found in these citations, you may see your search engine rankings tumble down.
On the flip side, if your citations are consistent, accurate, are present on popular platforms and provide a handful of useful information about your local business, you may see a fair increase in your search engine rankings as you will build trust with Google for providing regular accurate information about your business.
2. Impacts Customers
Inaccurate or inconsistent business information in local citations upsets customers the same way it upsets search engines.
Citations help people get their hands on relevant contact information about a local business and an address which they can go to if need be. And if even that information is mentioned incorrectly in a citation, it may lead to loss of reputation, trust, and revenue for your business.
What are the types of local citations?
Depending on the various platforms local business citations are submitted on, it can be of 3 types –
1. Major Local Business Data Platforms
Marketers or local business owners can choose to submit their business citation on data platforms that strive to publish this kind of data.
Creating business listings on platforms like Google My Business, Facebook Business Pages and Yelp should be your top priority as they are really popular and can generate a nice flow of traffic coming to your local business.
2. Industry Specific Platforms
Apart from listing your local business on the major local business data platforms that cater to all the industries, you can opt for a more industry-specific approach by building local business listings on websites that are specific to an industry or geographic location.
3. World Wide Web
Various publications, blogs, news sites, maps, apps and government databases can serve as an important local business listing platforms. You can intentionally develop citations from these platforms or simply earn them by providing valuable information.
How to submit your local business citation?
Submitting your local business citation to business listing platforms is vital to make use of their advertising power on the web. And the best part is that it’s absolutely free! It just takes a considerable amount of time and efforts to first write down all your business details and providing them with it.
To submit your local business information to these listing platforms you need to decide if you want to do it manually or automatically.
But first, you need to know how to create a business listing and what information you need to provide in your local business citation while listing.
Here are the core components of a local business listing –
- Business name/title
- Phone number
- Website URL
- Social profiles
- Additional media
- Alternate phone numbers
- Fax number
- Brands Carried
- Payment forms accepted
Google, being the market leader, has set the tone for the best practices to be followed on formatting this data and what/what-not to include in your business listing, you can view their guidelines here.
Now that you know how and what information to submit in your business listing, figuring out the way you’ll do it is what comes next –
1. Manual Approach
Creating a spreadsheet containing all the above-mentioned information about your business is fun but submitting the same information to 100 different business listing platforms is not, believe me!
If you go for this approach, you have the power to choose the platforms you want to list your local business in. While it goes without saying, always choose the market leaders first and then go down the ladder.
2. Automatic Approach
Not many business owners or marketers have that much time in hand to manually go submitting their local business to each individual business directory. Which gave rise to a more automatic approach. Service like Moz Local have mastered this and distributes your one-time business citation submission to high-quality business listing platforms and constantly monitor its health.
Benefits of listing your local business in directories
But why go through all this trouble? Because listing your local business in such business directories or listing platforms gives a serious SEO boost to your local business, resulting in a much stronger online presence, given if the information that you have provided is true and consistent.
Here are some other benefits of listing your business on local business directories –
1. Helps your Local Visibility
Listing your business in local directories gets your business in front of the local community searching for the services you provide. Local business directories have advanced filtering and tracking capabilities that connects your business with your target audience automatically.
2. Effective Link-Building
Submitting your local business citation in a business directory creates a single high-quality backlink for your website. The more authoritative business listing platforms you target, the stronger your backlink portfolio will get and vice versa. Eventually, the more high authority business directories link back to you, higher will be your ranking in search engine result pages and higher will be the traffic coming to your website from these directories.
3. Increases Brand Awareness
While searching through a directory, a prospective customer will see your brand even if he doesn’t click on it. Each and every encounter a person has with your business, whether favorable and unfavorable, increase their awareness and familiarity with your brand, warming them up for further engagement.
I don’t see why a local business should not invest their time and efforts in creating a well-drafted citation and submitting it to various online local business directories…. It builds backlinks, increases brand awareness, acquaints your business with local customers, increases your search engine rankings, builds trust with Google, strengthens your business as a whole and enables your local business to get discovered by nearby customers leveraging the power of web. So, get started today with claiming, updating and creating your listings online!