What is a citation? A citation is where your business name and address is mentioned on another website. Google looks for these citations as part of their regular web crawl. When Google finds a citation about your business, they will give you a “point”. You receive this point whether there is a link or not leading back to a website. More citations, means more points, which results in a higher ranking.
Google also uses an algorithm called “Trust Rank”. Trust rank is a patented search program whereby various weights are allocated to different sites based on the “expert status” of the person who annotates the website. While Google does not say that they use the trust rank algorithm for Google Maps, it would make sense if they did. What does this mean in regards to your business ranking? It means that some citations are going to be worth more than others. For instance, let’s say you own a barbecue business. A listing in the Better Business Bureau for your business will be ranked higher than a listing on “Bubba Bob’s Favorite BBQ Restaurants” That’s because Google will probably think that Bubba Bob has less “authority” than the BBB.
So how can you get citations? As you promote your business, join associations, and participate in community activities, over time you will probably garner a few citations. But….can you accelerate this process? Yes. Just think of it as another way of promoting your business, because after all, all you are doing is listing your business in some form of a directory.
An ideal way to accelerate the number of citations you have is join Universal Business Listings. By using their service, all you have to do is post your business listing once. Then Universal Business Listing will automatically post your information to all of the major Search Engines, the major Online Yellow Pages, information directories (411), and many other industry directories. You can join for free, but to have your business details submitted to other directories you will have to pay a yearly fee of $30. By paying the fee once a year your business will be submitted to many directories & data providers, including the Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, infouSA.com, and Acxiom. These major databases form the foundation of the search engines’ local indexes. It will take about 2 to 3 months before you will notice an increase in citations from these sources, so be patient.
You can also visit other blogs to increase your citations. Find a few blogs in your industry and make a few, relevant comments. Link to your business in the comment (it doesn’t matter if it is a follow, or a no-follow link, the citation still shows up). Ask the blogger to recommend you, or better yet, blog about you. Contact your local newspaper(s) and see if they will list you on their website. Finally, take a look at your competition. Google currently lists all citations so you will be able to see what others are saying about your competitor. If your competition has a citation from a source, then you should try and get a citation from the same source.
Build your citations slowly. Be consistent. Just like link building, slower is better. If you all of a sudden flood your Google Maps listing with citations, then Google will get suspicious and you could find your listing plummeting from number one all the way to last place. If you get a lot of business from your Google Maps listing, that could really hurt! If you do not have time to build your own citations, then consider contacting a local internet marketing firm. Marketing consultants can usually do this for you at a very low cost.
* I am an affiliate for UBL and if you order their service through this link I make a small amount. However, I feel so strongly about the value of their service, that if you are concerned about me making a commission on something I recommend, then I want you to use this link where I do not make a commission.