What are Map Citations?
If you have a business and are looking for new customers, map citations are crucial. Well, that sounds dire, doesn’t it? Sure but don’t get your underpants up in a knot just yet.
So how do Map Citations Work?
When a prospective customer in your area searches for your type of business, (say, Plumbers in Phoenix, Arizona) the quality and quantity of your map citations determine how prominently your business is displayed in search results.
How high do you need to rank?
When using Google (or any other search engine) most people won’t click past that first page of search results; so, ideally, you want to rank within about the top seven. If you were trying to rank this high nationally, you’d have your work cut out for you. Luckily, you probably aren’t interested in attracting customers across America. What you want are customers in your geographic area.
When a prospective customer is looking for your type of business, they are likely to look at the search results under Maps if using Google; Local if they are using Yahoo; or to use a site like Yelp, which also organizes results according to the user’s location. So, for instance, if you own a dog grooming business in Harlem, you want your business to show up prominently when someone in Harlem is looking for a dog groomer.
Great, but how do you make your business rank high in a local search like this?
Well, search platforms rank your business based on how often it is mentioned on the internet, relative to other similar businesses in your same area. These mentions are known as citations.
Are there reviews of your business on Yelp? Does your business have a YellowPages listing? How about Global Brown Book, Hotfrog, or City Search? Has an online trade magazine listed your business? Do you have a Google+ Local Business Page? These are all powerful ways to increase your business’s online visibility and help ensure that you will be ranked highly when someone in your area searches for your services.
Mentions in local online newspapers or in popular blogs can also help boost your ranking and are particularly important if you provide a very niche product or service. To get this sort of attention, there obviously has to be something newsworthy about your business.
Google Maps and other platforms want to return the best, most reliable search results they can; they do this by detecting how often your business is mentioned, where it is physically located, and by ranking it for each user accordingly. From Google’s perspective, multiple mentions corroborate each other, making it more likely that your business is legitimate and is the best business for the consumer.
It is important that across general and industry specific directories, your business’s basic information—your company’s name, its physical address, and its phone number with local area code—are consistent. This can require you, or your employees, to do a lot of work updating inaccurate listings. Alternatively, if you have the budget, a Local SEO can do the labor of providing the relevant directories with accurate listings for your business.