Once, we were mainly relying on newspapers and yellow pages to find local business information. Today, the internet took a major role in providing us with the necessary information. With Google and other leading search engines, we can easily find any kind of info in no time. And that ease of access proves to be of great importance for any type of business. With proper usage of citations, for example, you spread information all over the internet so users can easily find your business. However, having citations all over the place will not have the same benefits if they are all different. You will need the consistency in citations so they can provide full value and help your local SEO strategy.
Consistency in citations is crucial
Generally speaking, citations are an important factor that improves your local ranking. There are many ways to find citation sources when you want to promote your business. But, there is a problem here. They all have to give the same information. Usually, this is not a problem for small companies that are just starting out. But, it can be a huge problem for large businesses that function for years. Because of the way this type of information is spreading over the internet, chances are they differ. Syncing those differences and dealing with duplicates can be a tremendous task. Much harder than finding new sources and submitting your citations with formatted NAP there.
What is the NAP?
In a word, Nap stands for name, address, and phone number of your business. By submitting citations to directories, listings, blogs, and other sources, you are using NAP to provide the essential info about your business. Google uses these as signals to decide how to rank the information for users. The more consistent your information is across multiple places, the more chance you will rank up in local SERPs.
This is where formatting is of great importance. You will want your business name, for example, to be exactly the same in all listings. Any deviation may undermine your SEO efforts and gives you the opposite results.
How it all works?
First, Google takes your business information from different sources like directories and similar. As you can assume, it “weight” them and compare. If they are the same, Google is certain they belong to the same business and will give you ranking “points”. If they are not the same, Google will not take them into account. In a way, you will not get negative points for non-consistency. But, it can be a great waste of potentially “good” points.
However, there is a greater danger here with non-consistent citations. What happens with citations in directories, in general? All that information you submit is shared between various data providers. Consequently, the wrong information can spread through the internet like a disease. After that, you will have an enormous difficulty to track and deal with all the wrong names, addresses, and phone numbers. Not to mention how bad user experience will be if people are looking for your business at the wrong address, for example. This is one of the best ways to understand the importance of consistency in citations.
The practical side of consistency in citations
Besides difficulties in correcting all the data, its practical aspect reflects in profitability. Wrong information means bad user experience. Bad experience leads to lower traffic, fewer leads, and poor conversion rates. Not to mention the bad reputation and lack of trust. Overall, if you need to say it in fewer words, it means less profit. You are, in essence, not knowingly losing potential customers.
Just imagine someone is looking for a specific service. They’ve found the name of the provider of service, but, there are two different addresses for the company with the same name. Most people will just give up and start looking elsewhere. Ironically, not only you are left without clients, but you are sending them to your competitors. That’s why you should usually leave it to the professionals to handle your citation building strategy.
Of course, there are maps
Now, look at it from a different perspective. If you take maps, for example, the accurate NAP will make it much easier for clients to find you. When people search for a certain service or product, they will also get a visual representation of your location. And, in most cases, even directions (navigation) about how to get there. If you have consistent citations across the web, Google will prioritize you over others. The higher you rank in local search, the more chance to improve not only profit, but reputation, trust, and accessibility, overall.
In reality, people want fast, accurate, and always ready results, no matter what they are looking for. Most of us have a lack of attention or simply don’t have time for a detailed search. So, the first few results, with accurate information, will probably be a “much needed” solution.
Fixing the problem of inconsistency in citations
Fixing the entire problem with inconsistent citations is not always easy. Actually, it’s quite opposite and starts with finding various business citations sources. This is one of those rare situations when you need to “work your way” from the top to bottom. In short, you will start from big data directories, and go lower in the hierarchy.
- First, make sure you have the right and accurate set of information for NAP.
- Find the right tools to track all the citations.
- Search wherever your business information is listing on the web.
- Check all the incorrect data.
Now it’s the time to starts fixing information on the authoritative aggregators. For example, Acxiom and Factual. Next, correct citations on Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo, and other authoritative directories. The next places to correct are listings on Yellow pages, CitySearch, and similar sites. And finally, correct the information in strictly local sources like blogs, newspapers, and such.
To sum up, citations are a crucial set of information for both your potential clients and search engines. So, it’s important to pay attention to consistency in citations, in order to get the best result. Generally, it helps spread your online visibility, and eventually increase the profit. Take enough time and put some effort into checking your listings, or invest in SEO professionals. Either way, it will be one of the best and most beneficial long term strategies for your local business marketing.