The Crucial Role of Up-to-Date Online Business Listings
With so much else to do, why spend time making sure your business is represented accurately and consistently in online directories? Because your search results depend on it.
What execs should ask their teams about their companies’ online business listings
Putting focus on how your business is represented at every touch point online is foundational to how well your website will rank on the search engine results pages.
Here’s what you should ask your website manager or marketing director:
- Do you know where your business is listed online? Is your company included in the top business directories?
- Is the information on your company, most importantly the NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) citation, consistent and accurate? As an organization, have you decided on the official NAP information to be used across your entire web presence?
- How many NAP citations do you have? Is there a plan in place to increase this number?
While maybe not the most exciting activity, managing the company’s business listings is important, and can mean the difference between being on page one of search results or lost among the masses.
Read on for details on the importance of business directories and other citation sources for your business’ online visibility.
Let’s start at the beginning… What is a business directory?
A business directory is a website that provides information on businesses within a defined group, such as its niche, location, category, or industry. Business directories supply searchers and search engines with key information on your company and often include a link to your website.
Getting your business' NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information listed on directories, online business listing sites, and citation sites (websites that provide data on a company, such as its name, address, and phone number) is a key strategic move for any business, local or national.
Why does my company need to be listed on business directories?
These directories do two powerful SEO jobs: They provide name, address, and phone number citations for your business, and they (usually) provide a backlink to your website.
One of the factors search engines use to rank websites is "trust" - how many other websites consider the information you provide trustworthy. One of the signals of trust is links to your website from other, reputable websites (such as many business directories).
Another equally important aspect of building trust is the consistency and accuracy of your NAP citations across the Internet. For search engines like Google to have confidence that it is directing the searcher to the correct business, it looks for consistency in the NAP information wherever your company is mentioned.
“Building good quality local citations for your business is often recommended as a first step in any local SEO strategy. The reasons for this are threefold: citations can help (or hinder) your search ranking, they can aid local business discovery, and they can make or break a new customer’s trust in your business.” From Bright Local
Google and the other search engines rely on NAP citations, often from business directories, to indicate the existence and location(s) of your business. The more NAP citations they see, and the more often those NAP citations contain consistent information, the more confident the engines are that they have the correct information on your company.
Take a look at how your street address is formatted on your website. Now look at your Facebook, Yelp, and Google My Business listing. Is the NAP info exactly the same? Is the NAP information accurate in those four places? If not, that could and usually does lead to confusion with the search engines. When the search engines are confused they don’t tend to surface your business in the search results pages.
NAP consistency has another important impact on your business: customer perception. Building trust with potential clients and customers is a key facet of your online presence. Inconsistent NAP citations can leave a bad impression and result in a negative experience with your brand, before the person even talks to you. Taking the time to update and correct your company’s NAP citations will help them work for your business instead of against it.
Where did all these business directory listings and citations come from?
Every time you or someone within your organization adds your company information to a directory profile, an event sign-up, a social media profile, it becomes a citation. NAP listings occur naturally over the course of doing business, which is why it is crucial to make sure every employee uses the same information formatted the same way.
NAP citations can come from outside your organization as well. Reporters or vendors may mention you in an article or on their websites, and could use a truncated version of your company name or address.
You may also have an outside digital agency, like an SEO vendor, who is generating NAP citations on behalf of your company.
How many NAP citations does my business need?
Search engines like Google use NAP citations to build a picture of a business. The engines gather information from as many sources as they can find to better understand what the business does and where it is located. This means that the number of citations it finds, how consistent the information is, and the quality of the website where it found the data all determine how confident the search engine is in the picture it built. Confidence equals higher rankings.
10 Business Directories with relevance today
Add a listing for each of your locations to these directories. If your business is already listed on them, correct the NAP as needed. Most of these are free, except where noted.
This list of directories includes each directory websites’ domain authority. This shows the value on the link you’ll be receiving back to our own website from the directory.
“Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.” Moz
- Facebook(Domain Authority = 100)
- Apple Maps(Domain Authority = 100)
- Google My Business(Domain Authority = 100) Of note: Last year Moz ran its annual "Local Search Ranking Factors Study" and they found that the #1 ranking factor for ranking in the map pack was a company’s Google My Business Profile.
- LinkedIn Company Directory(Domain Authority = 98)
- Bing(Domain Authority = 94)
- Yelp(Domain Authority = 94)
- Better Business Bureau(Domain Authority = 93)
- MapQuest(Domain Authority = 92)
- Yellow Pages(Domain Authority = 91) – Paid
- Best of the Web (Domain Authority = 79) – Paid
Two more business directories for added local impact:
- Your local chamber of commerce. This directory listing (with a link to your website) from your local Chamber is worth whatever fees are required.
- Sponsor local events and ask that all event marketing include a link to your website (both from your logo or from any mention of your business).
Information to gather before you begin
Before you start correcting or adding business listings, have the following NAP information on hand to ensure consistency and maximize SEO benefit:
Your official company name. Oracle Corporation, Oracle Corp., and Oracle could be three different businesses for all the search engines know. Remove room for doubt to boost possibility of ranking on page one. Whatever you decide your official name is, it is crucial to use this same format on your website as well as in NAP citations and directories.
Your official address. These 3 addresses may all send someone to the same place, but the inconsistency will raise a red flag with the search engines. Confused search engines equal lower rankings.
Before deciding on which format of your address to use, search on Google to see which address comes up most often for you on the Local Map Pack and your Google My Business listing. Also check with your post office to see which format it uses. It’s best to go along with what the more popular organizations are doing already, unless there is an actual error in the information. Use the same format of your address on your website as well.
Your phone number. Not a toll free one, but the local phone number for that business. The phone number is a strong marker for local SEO. Search engines will be matching it to confirm it’s the same business. Use the same format and phone number on your website’s Contact or Directions page.
Other info to gather
- Your website URL – copied from the URL bar at the top of the screen. This is a big SEO issue. Make sure you are inputting into the directories your website address exactly as it appears in the browser. In SEO terms, these three URLs aren’t all the same:
Backlinks, as these are called, provide a powerful SEO signal for search engines that your site and business are trustworthy.
- A sentence that describes what your company does, using the primary keywords for your business.
- The industry categories into which your business falls (law firm, personal injury, family law, etc.) or (technology, Oracle SQL developer, etc.)
- Your company logo, sized and formatted for the web.
Options for auditing, adding, and correcting your business listings
Tools like Bright Local will provide an audit of all the websites where your business appears along with the NAP. Someone on your team can then correct each manually, or Bright Local will do this for you for a fee. Bright Local offers a 14-day free trial.
Tools like Yext will do it for you and then maintain the listings for an annual fee. Once you stop paying the listings may come down on many of the sites. Yext offers a scan of your business listings in exchange for your contact info, which can help you see how much work there is to do.
Manually done by running a backlink report using an SEO tool like SEMRush or SEOProfiler to find directories where you are listed, and then going to each link to ensure the listing is accurate and complete. This is time consuming, but you’ll know it’s being done thoroughly. Some digital marketing agencies offer this as a service, including Mayfield Consulting.
A final word on business directories
Vigilant management of your company’s NAP citations is worth the extra effort. A company with consistent, accurate citations in business directories and across its online presence is awarded with higher rankings in the search engines and positive brand sentiment from potential and current clients.
Mayfield Consulting helps B2B clients generate high-quality leads through smart marketing. Contact us today to see how we can help you surpass the expectations of your clients and board.
Learn more about maximizing your SEO in Mayfield’s previous blogs in the series:
Ruling Page One – B2B SEO Trends in 2020
Higher Quality Content – More Critical in 2021