Do Citations Still Matter?
Yes, citations still matter but not in the same way that they used to.
There was a time when using services like Yext or BrightLocal to blast out your local business information to dozens, if not hundreds, of niche business directories was a popular thing to do. Today, things have changed quite a bit.
We're finding that the sheer number of citations doesn't make that much of a difference and just creates a situation where you feel locked into using citation platforms.
Accuracy, Activity, and Authenticity
What matters today is what we call the Three A's:
Accuracy of Citation Information
First, if you're going to have a listing in a directory somewhere, you want the information to be accurate – like really accurate. All of the information you post about your business should be as identical as possible. This includes:
Make sure it appears exactly the same. For example, if your business is an LLC, don't include the LLC sometimes but not others.
The same is true for your location. If your business has a suite number, for example, either always include that in your address or never include it.
Business phone number
Use the same phone number in all of your citations. Sometimes we see people mixing up the phone numbers in their various citations by (seemingly) randomly posting their main office local number, a toll-free number, the number to their service department, the number to their sales department, etc. Unless there's a very specific reason to post a different phone number, consistently use the same phone number.
Business hours of operation
Over the last few years, it's been challenging to keep accurate hours of operation posted. In addition to the normal updates around holidays, there have also been other reasons, such as staffing problems, health issues, etc., that have impacted the hours of operation for many businesses. It's important to keep the hours of operation updated and consistent across your citations.
Authenticity of Listings
Both humans and Google favor authentic experiences. In other words, they want to know what your business is really like. So, if your citation (or business listing) looks out of date, incomplete, inaccurate, or just ignored, it isn't going to pull much traffic for you.
Therefore, you want to make your listing look like somebody actually cares about it by posting relevant information (menus, price lists, etc.) along with high-quality, current photos so that people get a clear and accurate understanding of what to expect from your business.
Google is constantly evolving to care about what people care about, and activity is at the top of the list. That's why it is important to show that both you – as the business owner – and your customers are actively engaged.
This means posting about new products or services, announcing events and specials, sharing photos from the events, and posting actual pictures of the food or products you offer.
Of course, the crown jewel is customer reviews. Actively getting a consistent flow of great reviews from your customers is one of the best ways to show activity on your business listings.
Our New Citation Strategy
The more citations you have, the harder it is to manage the accuracy, authenticity, and activity for all of them. So, rather than getting as many citations as possible, we only establish a few highly visible and relevant citations that we pump a lot of energy and love into.
What Business Listings Are Important?
The two business listings at the top of our list are Google Business Profiles and Yelp. If you (or your client) have a business that involves face-to-face interaction with your customers, it would be nuts not to have a Google Business Profile. While not as massive as Google, Yelp tends to drive a decent amount of traffic too, so we like to set our clients up there as well. We also see Google referencing Yelp in local business search results.
Finding Other Relevant Niche Directories
Here's an awesome trick to figure out what directories to get your client's business listed in.
Search Google for “Top 10 Lists” in your area for your client's industry.
Suppose you're client is a dentist. Hop on Google and search “top 10 dentists near me.” Look at the search results, and you'll see the most important and relevant directories Google cares about and has indexed.
Based on that search, in addition to Google and Yelp, I'd set up listings on:
Now you've got maybe five or six listings to manage, and you know that Google is sending traffic to the directories holding your business listings.
That's the strategy we're using to get our clients as much exposure as possible without wasting time managing (and paying for platforms to manage) citations that don't really matter.
Developing Your Offer
This strategy of driving traffic through relevant citations is part of our larger lead generation offer for local businesses. The complete offer includes the following five pillars:
- Web design and branding
- Hosting, maintenance, and support
- Local SEO essentials (including relevant citations)
- Google Business Profile management
- Google Local Service Ads
I've put together the offer in a modular way that you can essentially copy and paste into your business. You don't have to offer all of the pillars. You can also flex the intensity of each module as well. Depending on how much you want to include, the average client value for this solution ranges between $5,000 and $17,000 per year.
If this sounds like something you'd like to offer your clients, join us in Blue Theory, and you'll get everything you need to package, price, and pitch this solution.
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