We get asked all the time by small business owners: are citations still important?  For those of you wondering what a citation is, it is simply your name, address, and phone number listed across the web on third party sites.

The answer is yes, they are.  Not only is listing your business across the web important for your brand but it also tells the search engines who you are and what you do.  By taking the time to completely claim and optimize each online directory that pertains to your business, you are guaranteeing that your customers will have an easier time finding you across the web.

How can I improve my rank on Google My Business?

Just to be clear there are over 200 ranking factors.  Here are some key things that can help to increase your rank on Google My Business.

  • Make sure that you have claimed your listing and filled out all of the information.  Descriptions and Categories are key.  The description of your business is the opportunity to tell potential customers why they should do business with you. Take the time to tell them why they should.  Extra tip: provide links to certain pages on your website, Facebook page, BBB page, etc. within the description.
  • Make sure that your website has been optimized for the products and services that you are trying to rank for.  Have you taken the time to write content on each page and make sure that your titles and metas are completed to match that content?  Based on the content on your site, would you pick up the phone and call your business?
  • Do you have reviews?  If not you should consider a review strategy for your local business.  Reviews increase the chance that you will rank better on Google + Local. The magic number is 10 on Google + and 10 around the web.  Again, reviews have the potential to boost your ranking-they are not the end all be all.
  • Location is important.  Are you physically located in the city or town that you are trying to rank in? This is not necessary; especially if you are located in a very rural area but it certainly helps.
  • Consistency of your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) across the web.  When there are variations you are confusing not only your potential customers, but  the search engine as well.  Try and keep this consistent.  If you have a suite # check to see that this is listed consistently across the web.
  • Clean-Up your Duplicate Listings.  When there are multiple versions of your business listing across the web the search engines do not consider you as authoritative. Take the time to clean these up.

Tools we recommend:

Listing Score and Duplicate Listing Check Up

For understanding what your current listing score is and whether or not you have duplicate listings we love the MOZ listing tool.

Citation Building and Tracking:

Whitespark offers a great citation building tool that pinpoints recommended directories specific to your business.

Why do old Listings Keep Showing up across the web?

There are 3rd party companies that distribute listing data across the web.  If these companies keep feeding the local directories the wrong information about your business it then becomes a vicious cycle.  It’s important to not only submit your listings directly with the local directories but also to the sources; InfoGroup, Axion, Nuestar and Factual.