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  • Conor Mc Niffe

How to Get Started with Directory Listings for Local SEO

What are Citations and Why do they Affect SEO Rankings?


In the context of local SEO (Search Engine Optimization), a citation refers to an online mention of your business's name, address, and phone number (NAP). Citations can occur on various online platforms, such as business directories, local websites, social media platforms, and other websites that include business information. Search engines, like Google, use business citations to verify the legitimacy and consistency of your business details. Effectively, if search engines see consistent and accurate citations across multiple online sources for your business, they view your business as having higher authority than businesses that are lacking in citations. Consistency is important as well as volume of citations; a study by BrightLocal found that local businesses who rank in the top 10 positions in Google Local have an average 81 citations.


Citations can include additional information beyond the basic NAP details, such as business hours, categories, services, and a link to your website. Learn about the optimizations you can be making to your Google Business listing with this blog post. The goal is to ensure that your business information is accurately represented across the web, providing users and search engines with reliable and consistent details about your business.



How to Get Started


Google Business Profile

We definitely want to start with Google. Google takes the lion's share of the Search market at over 90%, with Microsoft Bing in second position, and with navigation apps (maps), Google also reigns supreme, this time over Apple, with approximately 70% of the market. Furthermore, starting with Google is beneficial since you can import your business listing directly into Microsoft (Bing Places) thereafter, saving duplication.


Visit http://business.google.com/ to begin the process. Either your listing will already exist and can be claimed, having been previously created by Google, or you will create your business listing from scratch. Typically, when you add or claim a listing with Google, there will be a verification requirement through phone, text, email, or video. Sometimes, verifying your listing through Google Search Console can bypass the verification process.


Optimizing your Google Business Profile listing should be an evergreen component of your SEO marketing. Responding to customer reviews, adding new images representing the business, expanding the Products section, adding Google Posts, and more opportunities exist with your Google listing. It is important to aim to optimize other key listings also but the majority of your listing management time should be allocated to Google.


Once your Google listing is set up, we can start to explore other priority listings. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on some key directories across Canada and not details social channels. The same logic applies to social channels though; most business models should aim to have a branded page on some of the primary social channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok or X, and take advantage of the components of each social page to ensure your brand is represented positively.


Apple Maps

Apple Maps is the default mapping application on Apple devices, including iPhones and iPads. Consumer behavior still dictates Google Maps to be the industry leader for navigation apps but Apple still has high volume usage. Like Google, Apple Maps provides detailed information about businesses, including contact details, hours of operation, photos, reviews, and more.


Apple provides a platform called "Maps Connect" that allows businesses to claim and manage their listings on Apple Maps. Visit https://www.apple.com/ca/business/connect/. From there you can either use an existing Apple ID or create one. Just like you did with the Google listing, ensure accurate and consistent business information (business name, address, website) are updated. Historically, the business phone number was an important detail to maintain consistency with but a lot of businesses use call tracking numbers nowadays without negative SEO impact. Digital verification can take up to 10 days with Apple Maps.



Bing Places

While Google is the most widely used search engine, Bing is still a significant player with an active user base. Visit https://www.bingplaces.com/ to either claim to start creating your listing from scratch. It is recommended to add multiple images for Google, Apple, and Bing, considering their user volume, as well as prioritizing other components of the listing that they offer customization over. For some of the citations that follow, these opportunities will also exist but the potential SEO impact is lessened. Bing Places has only a mailout verification, which can take up to 3 weeks.


Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages is a well-established brand and online directory for helping people find local businesses. Users on Yellow Pages are typically high intent, searching for specific products or services. Thus, you gain exposure to a targeted local audience as well as ensuring another citation is garnered for your business for SEO purposes. Visit https://business.yellowpages.ca/ to start the process, with the option of the basic package for a free business listing. Typically, a phone call with be the verification method and the listing will take up to 10 days to go live.


Foursquare (Factual)

Like Yellow Pages, Foursquare has an active user base specifically seeking local products and services. Furthermore, Foursquare business listing information is often integrated into other apps and platforms, extending your visibility across a network of applications that leverage Foursquare's location data. Visit https://business.foursquare.com/ to add your business with only email verification required.


Ensuring that your business is listed on these five directories, alongside relevant social channels, is a good start for your citation process. We have detailed some other recommended directories below with links to get started. It is recommended to keep an eye on sites like Whitespark and BrightLocal to learn what the most prominent directories are in your location so you don't miss any current or new opportunities for citations.


Remember, businesses with a strong and accurate citation profile are more likely to appear in local search results, local map packs, and other location-based searches. Managing and optimizing citations is a key aspect of local SEO strategies, as it contributes to building a trustworthy online presence and improving the visibility of your business in local search engine results.


More Citation Links:












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