Use online citations to boost local marketing
By CARL SORENSEN
Let’s start off with what an online citation really is. Online citations in the search engine world could be considered “mentions” of your name, address and phone number — or NAP to us marketers — on other important webpages, such as trade-specific directories, local business directories, consumer review websites and more. A citation still counts for your business, even if there is no link to your construction website. Just the mention of your business name, address and phone number is enough to garner an online citation for your business.
Some great online citations for local businesses
- Your local chamber of commerce
- Your local Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Any local organizations you support
- Trade organizations or associations
- Yelp, Kudzu, YouTube videos, Facebook . . . and the list goes on . . .
To recap, online citations are just the mere mentions of your business name, address and phone number somewhere on the world wide web.
What do online citations really do for your business?
Acquiring online citations and monitoring your own along with your competitors’ is a key element of a successful online marketing campaign. Businesses that have lots of online citations generally rank higher on search engine results pages — or SERPs — than businesses that have very few or even none. Online citations also play a big role in whether or not your business will display in the Google Maps local listings.
The more established the website is that you’ve garnered a citation from (your local chamber of commerce, for example), the more weight it is given in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) for contractors and the more certainty the search engines have about your business locality and what exactly you do. That translates into stronger local rankings.
Another benefit to acquiring online citations is that they provide outlets for your customers to provide feedback and reviews about your company. Positive reviews your customers may post on these citation websites also benefit your local search rank and are definitely worth having. This brings, however, a series of new issues called reputation management, and you’ll want to make sure you don’t have bad reviews out there. If you do, you need to respond and resolve them quickly.
Internet marketing firms, also known as digital or web marketing firms, use specialized tools that search the web to find all of your current citations. They search for your top locally ranked competitors’ online citations and sort out the list from top to bottom to find the most authoritative and important citations. With this kind of information, marketers literally have a roadmap to follow to get your construction website a stronger local ranking.
There is more to a strong local ranking than citations alone. Your website structure and content are also very important, but a strong online citation profile plays a big part in the grand scheme of things, and it’s not something you want to ignore.
Here’s a tip to get you started. To find out if and where a competitor’s website or business has been cited most, type the business name or phone number inside quotation marks into Google. Excluding the business’s original website, count the top 10–20 results where the business’s name, address, phone number or other SEO citation content is located.
Established websites can have hundreds of obline citations listed from each URL. Make a note of exactly where every citation is located, and you can then register yourself on these websites (it’s usually free) and begin building out your own citation profile.