Remember using phone directories?
The year is 1998. Your toilet is overflowing and the in-laws are due over in a couple of hours, and you’re almost certain they haven’t gotten over the “under cooked” chicken incident from their last visit.
But never fear! A friendly neighbourhood plumber is only a call away, his name and number forever at the ready in that trusty Yellow Pages you keep sitting by the phone – a landline phone!
Once again the day has been saved by the hefty, yellow tinted business bible that is your phone directory. Every tradesman you’d ever need locally all inscribed in ink, indexed and ready for your business.
Fast forward 20 years and we’re living in the digital age where phone books are at best makeshift stepping stools for children and short people to help decorate the Christmas tree, or at worst rabbit hutch lining.
The internet has wormed its way into every facet of our daily lives, and with search engines like Google being so readily available on phones, we’ve become spoilt with the world at our finger tips.
If you asked somebody to “Google it” two decades ago they probably would have raised an eyebrow at your supposed euphemism, now it’s become the go to term for “look it up”.
But the Yellow Pages never went extinct – no, much like how the bulky prehistoric dinosaurs grew feathers and became agile, wind surfing birds – it evolved. It lost its corporeal form and went digital. Re-branding itself to “Yell”, because in the future no-one has time for more than 2 syllables.
But the concept stayed the same; A directory of local businesses and tradesman neatly indexed by location and their trade, providing you with their business name, their contact details and a link to their website.
“Well… so what?” I hear you say. But stay with me here.
Take a moment to consider your own business. Years ago it would have been a given that you would advertise in a phone directory, but with the advent of Google there’s a good chance you’re probably relying on on-page SEO and maybe a few behind the curtains tricks to get your site the attention it deserves.
And of course, that’s how the game is played. But directories should not be forgotten.
Directories like Yell, Yelp, Bing Places and Google Business are giant, home brand names that carry an enormous amount of search-engine-friendly weight. They’re trusted, viable sources of genuine information that have never gone out of fashion. Having your business website cited on these directories shows that you’re a real company, looking for real people to do real business. And Google likes real things.
Directories: Back In Fashion
In the early days of the internet, directories were one of the main tools in the SEO arsenal for webmasters. Before Google caught on and changed its algorithms, the majority of the internet was categorised using Yahoos now defunct web directory. This was easily exploited to garner back links from a reputable directory to a website, thus making that website look important in the eyes of search engines.
All at once hundreds and hundreds of pay-for-back-link, low quality, spammy directories sprung up, where website owners could pay a fee to post a citation of their website on these rather dubious directories to pump link juice back to their own website… basically buying fake popularity points.
But Google caught on, and in its rise to power, the world changed. Many of these directories were dropped from Google’s index and directories kind of went by the wayside for while.
Directories now rarely share their link juice for just posting a link to your website for free, and there are still plenty of business directories out there that claim to feed to your website “popularity juice” in return for a fee – Our advice is to avoid these.
Instead, a search engine like Google is looking at your business’s citation – a citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP), as well as your website address and often a list of your services – and judging you on the information you’ve shared with not just this directory, but others too.
What Google really likes is consistency.
Consistency is key
It’s no secret that the main backbone to good SEO is consistency. That key phrase you want your website to be found for sprinkled evenly across your website, proudly on display in your headers, and tucked neatly into your meta tags – never-changing, always steadfast.
The same goes for Google and directories. You can spend hours posting your (NAP) business name, address and phone number with a brief description of your services and a link to your site, but if the information differs from one directory to another, then you lose the benefit.
Google hates phoneys. It likes real websites that are validated by big names it trusts. And if Google likes the way you look, it will flaunt you.
So, Which Directories Do I Post Citations To?
To begin with lets talk about Facebook and Twitter. Chances are your business already has social media pages that display your NAP. So Wahey! You’re already ahead!
But to truly garner the SEO benefits from directories, you really need to get posting.
There are thousands of directories out there and they are broken into multiple categories, but I will focus on the two you will most likely come across.
As a small business owner, chances are the majority of your customers are local to you. Having a citation in a local directory not only boosts your rank for local searches, it also gives customers another avenue to stumble upon your business instead of relying on Google searches. NAP consistency is also key here when building citation listings.
Exactly as it sound, niche directories are designed for specific listings in your industry sector. Like a “Web designers only directory”. As well as carrying far more weight in SEO terms due to their relevancy these sites are far more likely to drive relevant traffic to your website as visitors are far more likely to be looking for your services in the first place.
The thing to remember is that all directories use a search index that is based on “service provided” + “location”, and that the larger and more popular the directory, the more weight it has with Google in terms of validating your website as genuine.
But, the same can also be said for business relevant directories – especially local ones.
Here’s A List Of The Top 27 Directories For Small Businesses In The UK
If you’re a DotGO customer, you can log into your website right now and on the top right tool bar, under the “G” (Google) icon, you will see a new button that reads ‘Citations’.
This will take you to a page that lists links to business directories that you should really post a citation too.
Below is the list of directories that we recommend.
1 Google My Business
2 Bing Places
3 Apple Maps
11 Business magnet
Now, these are not all of the directories you could post a citation to. There are hundreds of more industry specific and local directories that probably exist in your area, but these are the most popular nationally.
Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This
I admit, that’s a lot of time and effort to spend posting consistent citations to each directory, and many of them require that you verify you are the business owner, that you actually work at the business address posted, whether you want to be found on Google/Apple/Bing maps etc.
I get it, you’re a business owner making a living – to quote a popular meme “ain’t nobody got time for that”.
So, how about we do it for you?
DotGO can build you custom citations targeting the most relevant directories for your business, making sure that each citation is perfectly consistent and delivers 100% accurate information.
We can even modify any existing citations you have on existing directories and monitor all of your citations to make sure you are being properly represented.
If you are interested in this service, just click the link on the Citations page found on under your Google SEO tab on your website toolbar, or call us to discuss this feature further.