A major portion of Local SEO work is creating local business listings. A business listing is a profile found online with your business name, address, phone, and other miscellaneous information about your business. There are thousands of websites and directories where you can create listings. You may have already heard of the popular ones like Google Plus Local, Yelp, and Bing Local.
The main purpose of creating local business listings is to increase your business’s visibility online. Each and every new listing you create increases your probability of being found on the internet by your patients. Also, many of the business listing sites and directories share data, which means the more of them you’re listed on, the higher authority you hold among them. If all else was equal, a business listed on more sites and directories usually ranks higher locally than one listed on less.
If you would like to create local business listings on many of these sites, your business must meet the following requirements:
- A business name or DBA.
- Local phone number correlating with the area (no shared, toll-free, or tracking numbers).
- A dedicated postal/street address (no shared, PO box, or virtual offices allowed).
- Conduct face-to-face business with customers (virtual offices are not allowed).
If you fulfill the four requirements above, then you can start creating business listings online.
What makes Local Business Listings important?
The primary focus of listings is your business name or title. The more listing sites and directories you have your business name on, the more that name garners trust from search engines and listing sites alike. This trust is what results in ranking well locally. However, if your business name is “Jon Doe, DDS”, but you also have the title “Dr. Jon Doe, DDS, PC” on a different site, search engines may consider these two different businesses, which means you’re losing trust and authority with search engines, and they may index them as separate entities. Accuracy is imperative, even down to the last punctuation mark.
Following Google’s Quality Guideline for Local Businesses, you will want to double check your listings:
- Business name should reflect your real world title
- you may add a descriptor to help patients locate your business
- Phone numbers, marketing taglines, store does, or URLs are not valid descriptors
- Here are some example of acceptable business names: “Panda Express Downtown” or “Ace Hardware Main”
- Here are some examples of unacceptable: “#1 Dallas Fencing” or “Feng’s Best Chinese Delivery Service.”
How does it work?
Citation listings work in two different ways:
1. Search engines index other sites and follow links that point to your website.
2. Search engines keep track of your citation listings, and where they appear on other sites.
These two factors are used to determine how to position a business locally online. If all other factors were equal locally, the business with the most high quality links from in your area will show up more often when queried in search engines. The general rule is to list your website/business in as many places as you can on high quality, local sites or directories.
What is a citation?
Your business name, physical address, and phone number (non-tracking or shared) are the three major factors when it comes to quality and relevance locally. A citation is also considered a “mention,” which is the appearance of your business name on other sites or directories, accompanied by your address and phone, even if there isn’t a link back to your site. For example, a local chamber of commerce may list your business name and phone number but not link back to your site. This is still considered a citation that can affect your local prominence online.
Among various other factors for citation listings, here are some of the other notables you’ll want to focus on:
- On-site Optimization