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How to Use Citations & Web Directories to Attract New Customers

Citations and web directories are excellent tools that you can use to market your business online.

They can boost your chances of getting noticed in the crowded online world, attract new customers and even drive sales.

Although the words themselves might sound technical, this is a pretty easy aspect of link building!

with traditional marketing, there were two excellent ways to find new customers:

  1. Get people talking about you and recommending your services to their friends
  2. Get yourself a listing in the local Yellow Pages or a similar phone directory

In those days, happy customers might have casually mentioned or recommended you when talking to their friends, neighbours and family; these people would remember you and might have looked you up if they too need your products or services.

If someone was looking for specific information about something, for example, accommodations for their upcoming trip they’d be likely to grab a copy of the Yellow Pages for that city and look through the list of hotels, B&Bs and other options; they’d find your contact details and phone you to make a booking.

Exactly the same approach is true in this digital age! Instead of those casual conversations (that still work, by the way!) and huge volumes of Yellow Pages, we have citations and web directories (think Yelp!).

What are Citations?

A citation is any mention of your business online, no matter how big, small or detailed this mention they might be.

In the digital marketing world, we tend to break them down into two types:

1) Partial Citations (or ‘Unstructured Citations’)

This type of citation contains part but not all of your business information. It is most likely to contain your business name and maybe even a phone number, but likely not your address.

2) FULL Citation (Also Known as a Structured Citation)

This type of citation will include full information that someone needs to find your business; your name, address and phone number (called NAP in the industry). As a bonus, it might also include your website, email address and other useful information.

What are Directories

Web directories are listings of businesses and can be generic across multiple industries (one Yellow Pages typically book covered all businesses in one city), or can be specific to an industry (the website of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario allows you to search for and find a dentist in Ontario, thereby making it a directory).This includes sites such as:

These web directories are also referred to as ‘(full) citations’ because they contain the full NAP (name, address and phone number).

How do Citations and Online Directories Help SEO?

The obvious way that a directory is helpful to your business is that people can find the businesses they’re looking for, especially if said business does not appear in the first few listings of Google.

A link to your website from a QUALITY directory can also increase your visibility in Google by boosting your domain authority (a link from a website with a stronger domain authority than your site has can help to increase your domain authority). Quality typically implies the directory is in your industry (niche) or geographical location (city, state/province or country).

How do you find a good web directory?

Here are a few tips that can help you find the best web directory for your business.

  1. Look for quality

Some directories are better than others, and a few can actually harm your rankings instead of improving them.

Check the following:

  • Is the website up to date (check the footer for a clue in this regard)?
  • Does it look spammy?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Are they using social media and email marketing to promote their listings?
  • Do they check and verify listings using humans?
  1. Find your niche

Find a web directory that is specific to your industry or niche and you’ll have an even better chance of connecting with prospective customers.

For example, if you’re an Airbnb host, look for directories that feature short term rentals. If you’re a travel blogger, look for travel-blog specific web directories.

Search Engine Journal has an excellent list of high-quality web directories that might help.  

  1. Look for local

Finding opportunities for local directory and citation opportunities is also excellent. This tactic also helps draw on community and allows your business to gain market traction via word of mouth too.

Start by using the Whitespark website to find citation sources by country and local area. You can also use Bright Local to find local citations that are more business-specific.

  1. Create Your Listing Carefully

Don’t make the mistake of rushing through the listing process. You want to fill in all the details you possibly can, including logo, description, operating hours, photos, social media links, etc.. An incorrect citation is a waste of your time!

Remember to verify your listing whenever given the option. This helps your business to appear more trustworthy and credible, and it’s worth the extra step or two.

Too busy running your business to start listing your website in directories or acquiring citations in your industry? We have a “done for you” service:

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