There are thousands of places where a citation – a mention of your business name and address, phone number or website – can be built for your local business. Every local business should focus on building a strong core of citations that not only broadens the visibility of the business but also strengthen search engines’ “trust” in the validity of the business’s existence. High-quality, authoritative citations are also viewed by experts as the #1 ranking factor in competitive local search markets.
Here are some excellent potential sources for citations for your local business.
- Data aggregators
In the United States, there are four primary aggregators of local business data. Infogroup, Neustar Localeze, Acxiom, andFactual have all compiled unique indexes of approximately 20 million business locations across the United States. These indexes are typically compiled by scouring traditional phone books, business group membership rosters, banking and phone records, and databases from business registration entities.
In turn, these aggregators license or syndicate their data to most local search engines, including Google and Bing. The time it takes for search engines like Google to update their indexes with new data from the aggregators varies, but generally, this process takes anywhere from two weeks to three months.
- Local search engines
Local search engines like Google and Bing crawl the web for citations that will validate or correct the business information in their own indexes. Getting listed on sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Hotfrog, and others can shore up search engines’ confidence in the accuracy of your business name, location, and website. Most local businesses will need to engage in a concerted citation building campaign that ensures that they are listed in as many relevant, quality local business directories as possible.
- Local blogs
Local blogs are a great place to get your business listed. These will obviously vary by particular geography, but if you simply perform a search on your favorite search engine for “[your city] blog” or “[your neighborhood] blog,” you’ll likely see good candidates.
The sites that show up for these kinds of searches are, by definition, very well-indexed by the search engines, and highly associated with a particular neighborhood, city, or region in local results. Businesses that are mentioned or linked to on these blogs are viewed as trusted, relevant results in the local search engines.
- Locally focused directories
Like local blogs, local directories are well-indexed by the search engines and are highly associated with a particular city or region. Directories which are edited by a human are much better than those which are “free for all”. Human-edited directories are less susceptible to spam and are therefore more trusted by the local search engines. Two examples of terrific locally focused directories are Best of the Web’s Regional Directory and Yahoo’s Regional Directory. You can perform searches for things like “[your city] directory” or “[your state] directory” to find good prospects for these kinds of citations.
- Industry-focused directories or blogs
If a website is focused on topics and keywords related to your products and services, it may be included among the sites that the local search engines count as citation sources—even if that website or directory is not focused on a particular region. For instance, the membership directory of your trade organization or a blog that is popular among readers in your industry will both probably be crawled by the local search engines for citations. Searches like “[your industry] directory” or even “[your keyword] directory” will give you some ideas of the kinds of sites on which to get listed.