Don’t you love it when things are straight forward? Let us, as a team, give you the most unambiguous marketing advice you will get this year, which may also have the biggest impact on driving traffic to your distributed network of sellers. It is about Local Organic Search, and it’s important because 66% of the population uses local search at least 3-4 times per week according to StreetFight Insights.
First, really quick, let’s get straight on the vocabulary. A citation is simply a mention of your local partner’s business name and address on another website. No, we are not talking link building strategies here, the name and address are not usually linked back to your partner's website. So what do we mean by “another website?” It could be a local newspaper business index, city or county business index, yellow pages, or the partner’s local chamber of commerce.
So Why Worry About This as a Distributed Marketing Tactic for Your Network?
Citations of all kinds boost search engine rankings. Search engines see that there are multiple sources with the same business name and address (organic citations and self-listed web directories) giving the search engine confidence that the business is legitimate, thus earning your local partners improved rankings in critical local organic search results.
The importance of citations lies not in the referral traffic it may drive to your local partners’ websites (if it is even linked), but in the validation it gives to the search engines about your partners’ business information and location. The information you add has to be the exact same in every directory, search engines don't like inconsistencies.
Steps for a Distributed Marketer to Get Started
The first step is doing research to find the directories well-indexed by search engines and that are most relevant for your business categories and locations. Once you establish the how many and which directories you're going to go after, start feeding them all business information you can. Do not limit this to the name, address, and phone number (NAP), most of the directories allow you to include information like business hours, payment methods, business category and description, images, links to another media, and even videos.
It is Simple, but Requires Maintenance
The creation of citations has become one of the most important steps in the local search strategy, although a partner’s own local website is the best long-term play. Citations do however require maintenance due to the constant changes in the different directories. One day you can find the perfect directory for your partners, and the next day that directory is not working anymore because it merged with another directory and lost relevance or simply changed the claiming and verification process.
Know the Top Dogs and Don’t do Double Work
Getting to know the ecosystem of directories can make your citation building much easier. It pays off to research and discover where your partners’ businesses must be listed manually and which directories you can skip and wait for the information to get populated automatically by scrapers.
Google + Local, Bing places, Yahoo Local, Infogroup, Acxiom and Localeze dominate the ecosystem and are the main directories to take into account for citation building. Getting listed with them is going to give a lot of visibility and credibility to local partners that sell your products, thus improving their rankings in local organic search.
About the Author
Vicky Bolivar is the Digital Production Coordinator Team Lead at SproutLoud, where she strives to help local businesses improve their online presence. Vicky has worked in traditional marketing for a communications agency and in business market intelligence analysis within the energy sector. She enjoys digital marketing very much because of the potential and the way the field changes constantly, keeping her interested with continual learning and improvement.More Content by Vicky Bolivar