With an increasing rate of consumers relying on search to help make purchase decisions, local search visibility is becoming more of a necessity for small businesses. A whopping 93% of businesses have either missing or incorrect listing information across all listing sources, which effects their rankings and ultimately their revenue.
Where does listing information come from?
Data aggregators run the world, or rather help run the world by providing information for local search. There are four major data providers (Factual, Acxiom, Infogroup and Localeze), that are responsible supplying the biggest search engines, like Google, local business information.
Although the information is typically pulled from databases such as yellow page and phone directories, utility records and other trusted listing sources, to provide the most useful information to consumers, they can’t determine when the information is out dated or incorrect. Incorrect information on any of these aggregators could mean that your business information is inconsistent throughout the web, which majorly hurts SEO. Not only does it keep customers from finding you, but also trusting you. 73% of consumers lose trust in brands due to inaccurate local business listings.
Each time a businesses NAP (name, address, phone number) information is listed or mentioned online, it creates a citation. Data aggregators have a primary influence on the amount of reputable sources that a business is cited on, simply because they distribute NAP information to these sources.
Although any of these combinations is considered a citation, the full combination of NAP info creates a “complete” citation:
- Company name (alone)
- Phone number (alone)
- Company name and phone number (together)
- Name, phone number and address
- Name, phone number, address and link
Citations can appear either structured, or unstructured. Whichever way a citation appears, it influences local search rankings.
A structured citation is the more common type, and usually provides the most helpful information. These type of citation commonly appear on Yellowpages, Yelp and TripAdvisor, which help consumers find local businesses.
An unstructured citation can be found on random sites, blogs, event listings, job posting sites, government records or social media mentions. These type of citations may be a simple mention, without NAP information.
The importance of building citations
Although many parts come into play for Google’s search ranking algorithm, the more consistent citations a business has across the web, the better chance it has at ranking in local search. Online reviews, mobile compatibility, domain authority and keyword density are just a few other factors that influence local search.
The first step toward building accurate online citations and mastering local SEO, is having consistent, accurate listings across the web. Take advantage of data aggregators distribution power by providing accurate and informative business listings.