What are citations and listings?
Local listings and citations are crucial tools for small businesses and local professionals. These are web platforms like Google My Business, Facebook Pages, Yelp, and so on.
They list your business name along with its address, phone number, website and more.
They help potential clients and customers find local professionals and small business nearby them by impacting local search engine rankings.
There are many different listings, but today I will go over the most important free listings for your business and brand!
All of this leads back to your main goals – getting people to your website and eventually hiring you or buying from you.
What info should I add to them?
Make sure you list the same information on each website and listing, and only once per site!
The most important info is:
- Name of your business
- Business address
- Phone Number
- Website address (URL)
- Photos – Try for at least 3 per listing
- Correct Categories – These describe your field of work such as Marketing, Law, Dental, etc.
Google My Business
Google My Business is the most important of all listings and citations.
So important that many experts don’t even consider it a listing, just a crucial part of business – think of the Yellow Pages back in the day (but even better since it’s free!).
Please read my entire step by step guide to setting up your Google My Business account here.
Quick note – Google My Business is not the same as Google+!
Though Google claims social media doesn’t effect SEO, that’s only a half truth. Though it won’t effect algorithms directly, search engines will be counting everyone who comes to your website from things like your Facebook page.
Google also will show your Facebook page as one of the top search results (normally right after your website!), so make sure you have the correct info and your Facebook reviews aren’t in the dumpster!
Another great plus is that you can control Instagram business accounts through Facebook as well, which is quickly looking to supplant Facebook.
Bing Places for Business
Don’t forget about Bing! Though Bing isn’t used nearly as much as Google, it’s still an important tool (especially in the US and Canada).
Though Bing has a measly 10% of desktop searches (which is still a lot of people you don’t want to miss out on!), it makes up for a whopping 30% of search in the US in total.
How does it do that, one might ask. Well Bing not only powers it’s own search engine at Bing.com, but also the following:
Especially with how fast voice search is growing, Microsoft has a pretty powerful hold on the market.
Local listings are used by the big search engines Google and Bing to try and validate smaller businesses by checking in on actual local organizations. These will vary vastly between your city, state, and personal memberships. I created an example list for people with Detroit, Michigan in mind:
- Local and State Newspapers – MLive has a great citation and listing service for Michigan Businesses. It is highly trusted by search engines.
- Chamber of Commerce – Detroit Regional Chamber is the largest in Michigan
- Kiwanis – Organizations like these will often have local websites for their city/county/area
- Co-working Spaces – If you are part of a co-working space, as many are, make sure they have your info listed correctly!
- Other Organizations – Business groups, professional orgs, etc
These will be based on what kind of business/profession you are in. Google and Bing highly rate these niche listings, and will often show your reviews and ratings from these sites on your Google My Business profile when your company is searched.
Here are some examples:
Other Free Listings
Here I list some other free listings. I wouldn’t label these as important, and some of them aren’t even for every type of occupation/business. These are just for those trying to go above and beyond and really boost their SEO and citations.
How to Check Your Listings
First – Make sure you have a listing on each of the most important listings.
Second – Make sure to have consistent and correct information across all platforms
Third – Use this tool, called “Moz Local -Check My Listings“, to do a quick check on some of the listings – WARNING – this tool will also try show you a bunch of listing sites that you have to pay for. Only use it to check the listings I have talked about on this page above. This tool is great for telling you if you have duplicate listings and consistent information
Fourth – Check all of these at least once per year or whenever you change information (Website address, real address, phone number)
The Big 4 Paid "Aggregators"
Done all of this and still want to do more? Well, you can throw money at the Big Four data aggregators.
This step is only for those who have created, updated, and expanded all of the previous listings to their maximum potential and are looking for that extra push in a competitive market.
I would recommend going down other online marketing routes prior to this one, but if you are put in charge of marketing and have a little extra money to throw, this is an easy extra.
How to Manage Your Reviews
Many of these listings also host reviews. That can be great, just make sure to ask your favorite clients and customers to leave you a nice review!
Google My Business will not only display your Google Reviews, but also other listings’ reviews!
The best way to combat poor reviews is good reviews before they happen. Don’t freak out if you get a poor review, most will only stick around for 1-2 years. Try and get more postive reviews to outweigh the negative.
Fun fact – people actual trust reviews around 4.4-4.8 over perfect 5 star reviews! It makes you look more human. So don’t put yourself down too much for that one crazy negative review!
What if Your Business has Multiple Locations?
Don’t worry! Most listings, at least the more important ones, will allow you to list more than one location!