If you’re like most consumers (roughly 90% of them), then you use search engines to find local businesses. You might use the search engine giant, Google, or turn to a more specific directory (like Yelp to find a restaurant). Once you find the business, you use the information in their listing to contact them - that’s known as a citation. If you tried to call this business, you probably got frustrated if the phone number was incorrect. Citation accuracy is important, which is why many businesses choose to build them manually.
A citation includes information like your location, phone number, hours of operation, email address, and links to various social media profiles. It can also contain videos or photos of your business. Where do you find your citations? The answer depends on the specific industry that your business is in. Review sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp are browsed by millions of users each month; having a claimed listing on these sites will make it easier for consumers to find you. Niche businesses should pay attention to industry-specific directories. A dentist should look to 1-800 Dentist, and a cleaner should use Angie’s List. As a business, you need to keep an eye on the websites where you have a profile and ensure that all your information remains current.
Sometimes, the most tedious tasks are the most important. Manual citation building is one of those tasks - it’s time-intensive and not the most exciting thing to do, but it allows consumers to find and contact you on different websites. By manually building your citations, you ensure that all of your listings contain the most accurate, up-to-date information. This becomes increasingly complicated for businesses with multiple locations. Some companies use automated systems to make citations for them, but these can make errors. As time consuming as manual citation building is, it’s more accurate.
Citations are an important ranking factor - but duplicate or inaccurate citations will hurt your position in SERPs. For consumers to find your business, you need to be on the first page of results. Citations can work against you by harming your ranking due to inaccurate or repeated listings. Your rankings are dependent on how many citations you have, how accurate they are, and their quality.
Let’s imagine what your consumers experience when they search for your business. Perhaps they found you in their search for the best dog groomer in the city - they entered their search on Yelp and scrolled through results until they found your listing. The consumer is impressed by your positive reviews and high rating, so they decide to call your business. But then they find that your phone number is out of service because it doesn’t belong to you anymore. Rather than search your name on another website, they’ll probably click back and call your competitor. Misdirecting consumers can cause damage to your reputation and reliability. When your citations contain incorrect information, it can cost you customers.
Citations don’t last forever. Some websites require that you update and reclaim your listing regularly to make certain that it’s accurate - otherwise, your citation may expire. Check their service agreements to see how often you need to manage your listing. While it may take time, the benefits of manual citation building are numerous: they help your rankings and visibility across multiple websites, increase consumer trust, and boost your website’s traffic.
Staying on top of citation building requires diligence and patience. If you own a business and you lack the time to manage your citations, you’re not alone. RepCo can aid you in maintaining consistent online listings with our reputation management software. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help manage your listings and grow your business.