In the dim dark past, people searched for businesses using a phone book or looked up a specific person through the white pages. Online directories are very similar to those old phone books. These online directories store information for thousands (sometimes millions) of business. Fortunately, this information is indexed and searchable. Millions of people use online directories to find businesses, products, and services they need. Search engines also use this information to verify information about local businesses, making it very valuable in terms of local search marketing.
How many of these ‘online phone books’ are out there? There are estimates that there are thousands of online citation directories across the web. Some online directories contain their own niches, such as dance schools, law firms, or art centers. Other directories only list individual people by trade, such as doctors, dentists, or chiropractors. Still, others are more geared towards a certain country or location or limited to larger cities. Each of the hundreds of online directories is different in who they list, and how they list their information.
To understand online citations more, one needs to understand the data that they use. Every online citation directory contains NAP information. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Those three pieces of information are most critical for a business. In fact, they are so important, many search engine optimization companies recommend that even online-only business obtain a physical address for use with online citations.
Other than NAP information, the next most critical information is a business’s website and email. Not every online directory includes this information, but it makes a big difference when the directory does. Having the business URL listed in an online directory makes it easier for potential customers to click and visit a business site directly (and it provides a valuable backlink to the website). Beyond this information, other links from Facebook or Twitter and other social sites help businesses connect with potential customers. Each connection made draws them closer to the business, and away from their competitors.
Out of the hundreds of online directories out there, how does one know which ones are best to add a particular business to? In the world of search engine optimization, the main factor is a number of people who visit the online directory. This is also known as 'web traffic'. The more traffic an online directory has, the more search engines will consider the listings more relevant. Search engines will give more value to businesses who list themselves in that and other directories. That value, in turn, gets a business placed higher in search engine results. Here is a handy little tool and template to test to see how much traffic a website gets.
Another important factor to consider for local search marketing purposes is local directory citation sources. Many searches in Google, Yahoo, and Bing are for businesses nearby to the person searching. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to focus on a business’s local service area and category for citation building. Some citations, such as Yelp or Yahoo! Local are designed more for searching within a local area, such as within a city or town, as opposed to searches from other cities across the globe.
Of course, listing a business in online directories takes a lot of time. A business must contact each individual online directory to add listings. Some directories only offer paid listings or offer more limited features for free. In addition, to maximize the value of each listing, a business can add extras. These include a detailed description and photos of the business. It can also include descriptions of products and services offered, brands carried, and more. This takes extra time to fully fill out each listing, especially if a business wants to make sure the descriptions are keyword optimized in each directory.
In addition, it is not enough to simply add listings but to keep them current as well. As a business changes and grows, it may move to a new location, change its website, or add an 800 phone number. As this information changes, you must update the information in online directories to show those changes as well. This requires contacting each of these directories to change their information to match the current business information.
It’s a big hassle, and takes a lot of time, to list a business in numerous directories. Someone needs to contact each directory to create a listing in their directory. A business needs to know their targeted keywords, and have strong product information researched and ready to add to a business listing. A business also needs a logo, and images of its business storefront, brands, or products too. All this research, contacting, and adding listings takes a lot of time and effort. It also takes a recurring investment in time to ensure the listings are current and correct. It takes even more time and work to fix the information in any incorrect listings.
This is where great local search marketing companies can help. Search engine optimization experts make the process of listing your business in online business directories a breeze. We know the highest ranked directory listings for any type of business and can prioritize your new listings based on your specific business type. We can also help formulate a great online marketing strategy to maximize global and local SEO rankings. With the help of a good online marketing company, such as the search engine optimization specialists here at Nimbus Marketing, businesses can use online citations as a great tool to help get to the top of search engine lists online.
Robert Portillo is the founder of Nimbus Marketing. Nothing satisfies him more than expressing his thoughts well. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons. He can often be found at local farmer’s markets, hiking trails, and the beach.