I can guarantee you that this is one of the easiest, cost-effective ways to promote your own business. There are literally hundreds of different local business directories out there. Each one gets a a little bit of traffic, and their traffic is usually always looking for a business to solve their issue.
The only downside to this method of free exposure is how much work it can add up to. The work pretty much means having you to sign up, add all your business information, and sometimes verify that you are indeed the owner of said business. The other downside can be having to track down all of these different business directories. Some directories are near impossible to find, yet they have an active user base.
For Canadian businesses, it can be even more difficult to find a directory that will accept your registration. Most of the directories that can be easily found are built to show US businesses only.
A citation is a term used by Google which can be any mention of your business and it’s information. Google uses citations as a way figuring out whether or not you exist, and what your business does for it’s customers.
Ideally, the bare minimum requirement for a proper citation is to have your:
You should always try to make your citations as informative as possible. Doing the bare minimum can still get you results, but considering how much work can go into creating them, you might as well do as much as you can while you’re there.
A deeper citation would include any additional information that could help Google to decide just how relevant you are. This would include photos, logos, business hours, and any relevant keywords that your ideal customers would be searching. A really good place to put these keywords would be in your services and service descriptions. If you have any products, talk about those too.
You can have a citation on any kind of website. So long as your information is public, Google will use it to better understand who you are and what you do. One of the best jumping off points would be to create a profile on a local business directory.
There are hundreds of different business directories you could add your information to. Some business directories will have a greater impact for your online presence. There are a handful of factors that make one business directory better than the rest, such as:
Many online business directories are websites with very old technology. They often fail to load simple web pages and are lacking in basic functionality. Finding businesses directories is pretty easy. There is a handful of articles online that offer large lists of directories you can build citations on. You can find a large list of 30, 50, or even 100+ different websites to publish to. I can guarantee more than half of them are a waste of time.
The problem with these lists is that nobody has vetted them and more than half of the directories on those lists are useless. You might have a hard time actually publishing your business information to these websites because of their flaws.
Problems you will come across:
As someone who creates these profiles for other people, I need to have an active list of local business directory websites that are actually working. I promise my clients I’ll add their business to said directories. For me to keep my promise, I need to maintain a healthy list of functional directories.
In most categories, a small business typically requires at least 10-20 citations to start seeing any kind of results. With our Google My Business Listing Management service, citation building is billed into the regular monthly service.
When you build a citation for your business, it becomes visible to the public. This has it’s obvious benefits, but there are also several technical things happening in the back-end of the internet. Your information will begin to spread to other services that are looking to populate their databases. The more consistent your information, the more likely it is for customers to find you across the internet.
Having your business on a local directory that gets traffic is great. What you don’t realize is that Google is actually checking these directories and cross-referencing that information with your Google business listing. They are scanning the entire internet all day and all night. If they find your information on another website, they count that as a live citation. This helps improve your relevancy in the eyes of Google.
Most local business directories will also allow you to include a link to your business website. Links pointing to your website can greatly impact where you belong the search results. For a business that doesn’t have much competition, just a few links can make a huge difference. It is common practice for successful websites to obtain as many backlinks as possible.
Businesses that are active on social media are a great signal to search engines. By updating the world about your activity, you are letting people(and Google) know you are open and looking for business. Many local business directories have an option to add your business’ social media handles.
These typically include:
Not only do they allow adding your social handle, but they also allow adding them in the form of a URL. This can count as backlink pointing to your social accounts.
One of the most popular data aggregates is Apple Maps. Most of their information is pulled from thousands of websites and added to a database. Although this method of collecting data provides some inaccurate results, it’s too important to be left out of consideration. There are thousands of business directories that pull data from the internet. Building citations makes sure you get picked up by these aggregates.