Statistics reveal that four out of five consumers today search online directories to find local businesses. Further, nearly half of all mobile phone users who searched for nearby businesses stopped by that same day.
As a small business owner interested in connecting with your local audience, it’s time to add online directory listings to your business’ web presence and digital marketing strategy.
NAP is short for NAME, ADDRESS and PHONE number. Your NAP must appear in any and all legitimate directories, specifically local and industry-related ones, like these:
If you were thinking like a customer, what information would be important to you if you were searching for a local business?
Consumers want to see your NAP, your hours of operation and your website address.
What will really catch their eye is if you beef up your directory listings by adding some HIGH-VALUE DATA, such as:
Some online directories already have your business address listed. If that is the case, you need to claim your listing.
How to claim your business listing varies from site to site. On some, you click on a link that sends a verification code to your phone. Others may send you information via email. Regardless of the process, it’s important to verify your business listings.
Once you claim your listing, you can edit information, respond to reviews and customize your profile.
Yes and yes!
Your information in online directories increases your performance in search engine results and increases the chances that new customers will find your business and buy from you. Isn’t that what this is all about?
Tied in with the all-important directory listings are CITATIONS.
A “Citation” is defined as: A mention of your NAP on webpages other than your own site.
Google and other search engines take your company’s citations into consideration when computing your ranking and that all important SERP (Search Engine Results Placement).
To further define citation: any mention of your business occurring anywhere on the internet with or without a link.
A partial citation occurs when only part of your NAP appears somewhere. A full citation is the complete NAP. “Structured citations” are found in directories like YELP, YEXT, etc. Unstructured citations can be found anywhere – in a blog, news release, on job search sites, etc. All these forms of citations create value for your local SEO.
Citations from sources, like the directories, prove to the search engines that your business’s contact information and how it is categorized are valid and correct.
Citations also show that a business is part of a community. Membership in a Chamber of Commerce or a business ad in a city or county online business index, or being written about in a local online newspaper or blog, all provide citations that improve your local search engine rankings.
Participation in local events helps you gain citations. The event site will list your NAP. In addition, it’s another way for your business name to get associated with the local community.
Perhaps most importantly, the consistency of data published about your business across the web influences the “trust” search engines have in the validity of your business data. Every online citation of your business has to list your NAP and website address correctly and it has to be the same everywhere.
Your NAP needs to be ACCURATE across the entire internet. Big search engines use NAP data when determining which companies to display in area-specific searches.
You will shocked and amazed when you start looking at your company’s listings. Every possible variation of your company name is out there. Sometimes listings are even incorrect. Have you moved in the past couple years? Guaranteed your old address is still out there and needs to be changed ASAP.
How bad is it if your NAP is inaccurate or outright wrong? A mismatched NAP is one of the main negative local ranking issues impacting how a website is ranked.
Directory listings and the citations they create, and citations from other sources as well, play an integral part in your online marketing program. They represent a great way to ensure prospects know you exist and can find you. Further, directory listings and citations prove that your business is well-established and respected.