While there are a wide variety of factors that affect rankings in organic search, online citations are one factor that frequently get put on the back burner. Citations (or listings) are mentions of your business’ location and contact information across the Internet. Inconsistencies and inaccuracies in these listings hurt your potential customers, your business, and your SEO efforts. Here’s how.
Inaccurate listings cause issues for your customers and your business.
85% of consumers use the Internet to find local businesses. Because of this, it’s critical that the information users are finding is accurate. Let’s say you own a small hardware store that closes at 7p.m., but your Google My Business listing shows you close at 8p.m. At 7p.m., John, a potential customer who needs a part to finish a project immediately, shows up to make a purchase and sees your store is closed. This leaves him with a negative experience that discourages him from shopping at your store in the future.
Alternatively, let’s say your store closes at 8p.m., but your Google My Business listing shows that you close at 7p.m. John sees this and decides to visit your competitor whose listing shows that they’re open until 8p.m. This inaccurate information has now lost you a sale. Ensuring your business information is accurately represented online prevents negative experiences and helps you get sales. It’s a win-win.
Inaccurate listings also cause issues for your SEO efforts.
Inaccuracies in listings can negatively impact your search rankings, even if your website is optimized well and contains useful, relevant content. External location signals are the third most important ranking factor in local search according to Moz ranking factors. Search engine algorithms are updated frequently to connect users with the most helpful answers to their queries. For local searches, they look at online citations to make sure they’re providing accurate information that benefits users. If there are a lot of discrepancies or gaps of information in your listings, this confuses search engines and discourages them from showing your website in results.
Even if you haven’t changed your business name, location, hours of operation, or domain recently, it’s still possible for inconsistent information to exist online. For instance, say your Yelp page lists your office as “The Offices of Dr. John Smith” and your Google My Business Listing shows “J. Smith, MD.” While they share the same address and phone number, it’s possible these listings could be perceived as separate businesses.
While providing accurate information is especially important for businesses with brick-and-mortar locations, it’s really crucial for any type of local business in regards to search.
So how do you stay on top of it all?
With hundreds of directory websites across a variety of industries, online listings can be difficult to create and maintain. While having someone on your team go through these sites manually to update information would work, it’s often not the most cost-effective solution. If you come across one inaccurate listing, it’s very possible there are many others that also need to be updated. Unfortunately, updating information on each listing is a very timely process. Because of this, we highly recommend using a citations aggregator to ensure consistency and accuracy (we actually offer one here at MBB+). To see how you’re doing with your online listings, check out our free tool that will help you understand where you’re at.
If you’d like help managing your online listings or have questions about how citations affect your SEO efforts, give us a holler.