How Business Citations Put You on the Map

  •    Megan is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com’s platinum membership program helps small businesses grow on the web.

Are you working hard to get your site search engine optimized (SEO) to increase your traffic? If so, you know the never-ending quest to establish links to your website.

But are your efforts sufficiently focused?
Not all links are equally valuable for your business. This is increasingly true for two reasons:

  • Google is looking for real “authority” on the Internet, and
  • Mobile devices are making accurate local, “real-time” searches critical for business competitiveness.

Citations are one category of links or mentions of your business that are extremely valuable today for both SEO and boosting your stature in the competitive arena of local searches.

First, let’s describe how a citation differs from a standard link. A link is simply code that will get an Internet user to your website. With many links, your site might be mentioned “just in passing.” This is important because Google is getting very good at judging links that give your site additional “authority” versus links that are more or less meaningless.

Citations, on the other hand, include real information about your business, such as your phone number, physical address and website. Some citation sources include user reviews. They are packed with authority.

Citation Sources

There are a wide range of sources for business citations. One of the guiding principles when creating online citations is to concentrate on established sites whose authority you recognize.

Warning: It’s easy to get into the online directory business. Don’t bite every time you get a solicitation to list your business in a new directory.

An accurate listing on Google is a must. As a quick exercise, search for your business by name on Google. Are you there? Are the address, phone number, map location and hours correct? Get a Google+ account for your business. This will ensure that your citation is correct.

Yahoo! Local and Bing are also concentrating on local searches. Be sure they have you properly identified. Today Yelp is the best at adding social sharing to its business citations. Most retail businesses must pay attention to their Yelp listing—check yours at least once a week. And for service providers, Angie’s List deserves consideration.

TIP: Respond to bad reviews in a timely manner. Negatives can be turned into positives when problems are quickly resolved.

As I said earlier, central to getting the most out of your online citations is to focus on sites that have recognized authority. Owning a top spot on any of the sites above can deliver a distinct competitive advantage because their level of authority gives your prospects the kind of assurance they are looking for when they are ready to buy.


Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/256540145/ "We're famous, find us on Google Maps," © 2006 Lars Plougmann, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/