While not as important as years past, local business citations still can lead to increased presence online and potentially more leads. Building citations takes time. So it makes sense to focus in on the citations that will benefit your business most.
First, some background.
What’s a citation?
A citation is a listing of your business name, address and phone number in any online resource – a local newspaper, a blog, a directory like yp.com or Yelp.
In this example, the top two results are a paid and organic search result for the business I searched for (You Move Me, Denver, chosen at random). The rest are citations.
Check out how BBB (Better Business Bureau), Moving Company Reviews, Yelp and Thumbtack together make up more than half the organic results on this list.
What’s a citation worth?
Citations have three purposes. One is to get you found by readers and visitors right in the directory. If you’re listed on Yelp, visitors to Yelp are more likely to find you. The second reason is to fill SERPs so you show up multiple times for the same keywords, as your listings on various third party sites are displayed as separate results.
Arguably the most important reason is that if you’re listed on the right directories you’ll be treated better by Google, which treats citations as a ranking factor for local SEO.
Who should do your citation building?
That’s up to you; building citations isn’t rocket science but it does have to be done exactly right and it’s time consuming. If you’re doing it yourself, get some serious self-education under your belt; if you’re hiring it done, look for someone with a proven track record of successful implementation for moving companies
Anatomy of a Local Citation
Here’s what a good local citation should look like.
Directions, address and phone, opening times are all there. That, plus reviews, is basically a solid local listing. The task is then to duplicate and, where necessary, expand on, that listing in other directories.
Local citations rely on something called NAPs – Name, Address and Phone number. That sounds simple, but NAPs are to local SEO what URLs are to general SEO. Misspell a URL and you’ll get no traffic there. Misspell or alter your NAPs from site to site and you’ll get no citation juice. You might get traffic from those sites, but you won’t get improved SERPs as a result of being listed.
How to do it
Start with your Google My Business listing. Make sure that’s as accurate and complete as you can make it, and that your GMB and your website show exactly the same contact details, down to the commas and contractions. If your GMB says ‘Station Road’ and your website says ‘Station Rd.,’ fix it.
From there, move each line of the citation into a spreadsheet – Sheets, Excel, Numbers. When you create a new citation, copy and paste line by line.
You should make sure you have the basics covered – the all-star lists that are useful whatever your business or location. These include:
As well as social networks like Facebook.
But there are also citation sources that are specifically useful for moving companies, which is where you should focus your efforts.
Best of all, though, is the citation source that delivers two wins: it helps you rank, and it shows up in SERPs in its own right, increasing your visibility. These listings will show up when a user does a search of your business name or brand. You also have the potential for them to show up on the first page if someone does a google search for a mover in your city.
Don’t believe me?
Google it yourself and see them ranking in your city.
Verification required: No
Everyone knows Yelp. And there’s a reason for that. It’s consistently one of the most important citation sources, whatever your industry. Wherever you are right now, if you search ‘moving house,’ ‘movers,’ or ‘moving company,’ you’ll see at least one result from Yelp on the front page.
To get your listing on Yelp, just go here and click ‘Claim Your Business.’ (Chances are, there’s already a listing there – Google your business name + Yelp to check.)
If your business isn’t already listed, you’ll have to add it with this form:
Make sure you connect your business website to Yelp to get the best juice from this listing. You can still make up your own categories on Yelp, the way you used to be able to on Google My Business. But it’s a better idea to be as specific as possible while sticking to conventional categories: use ‘moving company’ or ‘movers.’
When you click ‘Add Your Business,’ you’re listed.
Yelp is one of the citation sources whose power is super easy to check: you just search for one of your keywords, in your city or anywhere else.
Under the paid results and the map, but above the AMP carousel, there’s Yelp: #2 in organic SERPs.
In another city?
Austin, Texas – 1700 miles from New Jersey. Yelp’s at #2 again. It’s win-win – you get traffic direct from Yelp, and you get major local SEO juice too.
Adding your business to Yelp is a ten-minute job if you do it real slow. The payoff is massive.
Verification required: No
Thumbtack has the easiest interface to use of any of the directory citation sources listed here, except maybe Yelp. Click on ‘Sign Up’ and you’ll be offered a choice between signing up as a business and signing up as a consumer.
You want to join as a pro. When you do, you’ll find out that Thumbtack is super-specific; find ‘moving’ in their list of types of service, and you get 8 different options – including ‘piano moving’ – as well as ‘other’ if you need your own.
They give you another screen of options in case you do two or more things, but nothing from the first list is on the second list. (Bizarrely, ‘IKEA furniture assembly’ is.)
After you get through these, Thumbtack will ask you how you meet your customers (not the brightest question if you’re a mover, but it’s a one-size-fits-all process) and ask your zip code. Drop that in and you’ll see a map with the radius you’re willing to travel, which you can adjust; Thumbtack will serve you leads from within that area.
Fill in name, address and phone number and you’re done.
Thumbtack might seem like it’s not very specialized for the moving industry, and that’s true – it covers a big range of businesses, some of them the kind that serve cocktails in jamjars. But don’t let that put you off. Thumbtack can deliver you some business, and it also serves you real local citation juice.
Listing: Free, paid accredited option
Verification required: Yes, but it’s automated
The Better Business Bureau has been giving its seal of approval to businesses across America since 1912. When you put your business on their site, they deliver local SEO juice – but they also give you direct traffic.
There are two types of BBB listings: accredited, and free.
Accredited listings are only available if your business is BBB registered. They come with a monthly cost and include a comprehensive business overview and review of your business. (You can also embed the BBB shield into your site – not a bad way to add trust to your homepage or landing page.) Get an accredited listing, and you get a direct link back to your site.
Free listings look different. You don’t pay – but you don’t get the comprehensive review or the shield either. You also don’t get a direct link back to your site. That’s not to say a free listing isn’t worth having: your business will still get citation juice without the link, and you’re still in with a chance to have your BBB listing show up in SERPs too.
To submit your business for listing on BBB, start on their homepage and select ‘Find your BBB.’
Alternatively you can browse by location:
Like with other directories, it makes sense to check if your business is already listed, so go to the ‘Check out a business or charity’ button to see if you already have a listing that you just need to claim. Type the name of your business into the search bar and search for it. You should turn up a listing if you’re on there.
If you don’t find your listing, begin by asking BBB to develop a listing for you. Click the link under the search box and add your business details, then wait.
That takes you to a form for your business details. This is NAPs by any other name, so make sure it’s both accurate, and identical to your other listings.
Annoyingly, it takes a week or so for your business details to percolate through. But when they do you should have a listing to claim.
Make sure you create an account and optimize your listing, don’t just let the basic one sit there. The BBB assigns ratings: a higher rating means more searchers will see your business, and one way to bump yourself up the ratings slope is to have a fully optimized listing.
Start by clicking the login button when you hit the BBB page. It’s pretty well hidden: it’s at the top of the page on the local BBB page.
Can you spot it?
That takes you here:
As you can see, there’s a choice to login normally, for a free listing, or as an accredited business (the box on the left).
You have to go here to create an account. When you’re prompted ‘have you already claimed your business?’ click ‘I am new’ and open a new account, and you’ll be able to edit your business listing.
Listing: Freemium – Green is free, Silver and Gold paid
Verification required: Varies by membership option.
Angieslist is a free-to-register directory that focuses on the local. There are paid membership options, but the free listing is what we’re interested in today.
The site has reviews, which it boasts are verified and never anonymous, reducing the likelihood of snarky or incorrect reviews. And if you’re a consumer, it picks up your location by your ISP and serves you relevant local businesses.
But if you’re you’re looking for that double citation win – getting extra SEO juice for your site, plus a possible mention for your business’ Angieslist listing in SERPs – all you need to do is head over to the Business Owners button and claim your publicly-generated listing, if it exists.
You’ll be prompted to search for it by company name and zip.
If Angieslist can find your business, all you have to do is complete the profile. Like many other directories, the site is riddled with publicly-generated profiles that aren’t claimed and poorly-optimized profiles. But an extra five or ten minutes spent making sure your listing is complete and accurate will really pay off. (Remember – NAPs must be identical to get the full effects of a citation.)
If you don’t have a listing to claim…
You can create one:
Note that the process is a little odd: you select a category from the list on the left, then move it to the box on the right by clicking on the arrows between the boxes.
Move on and you’re prompted for more business details to set up your account, so you can manage your profile.
Once you’re through, you’ll have the opportunity to improve how the Angieslist search engine serves your profile to consumers by giving them information like your location.
It makes sense to take the time and get a really full, accurate listing since it probably affects how your Angieslist profile gets served in SERPs.
Verification required: No
These guys are mainly a reviews and listings site, a little like Yelp. They’re the youngest site on this list – they only go back to 2012, 100 years younger than BBB. Their income comes from advertisers and partners, so they don’t sell anything onsite to you or consumers, and they’re keen on the integrity of their reviews. They’ll also help you score leads and other goodies – again, though, we’re mainly interested in getting a solid citation that also appears in SERPs in its own right.
To get a listing scroll down their homepage til you get to this:
They have probably the most modern, easy-to-use interface of any of our top 5 listing sites. Unlike most, their signup isn’t paginated – you put in all your login, company and other details all on the same page, starting with account login details.
The want to know a lot of detail right off the bat, like moving distances, locations and USDOT number. They’ll also ask you for imagery for your listing, right on the signup page.
While all this detail seems like it’s in the way, it’s actually a really good thing because it rescues you from the temptation to give them your name and phone number and sort out the rest of your listing ‘later,’ ie ‘never.’
Once your listing is complete, just click through to begin administering your account.
Directories are the obvious place to start building local citations.
But it’s important not to get tunnel vision.
Local papers are a fantastic source of citations and many will let you have a mention for free. If they don’t, consider doing a press release or event and getting your business in the paper as part of local news. Go super local – small town papers are still citations. So are local bloggers.
Don’t forget about social too – social signals aren’t a ranking factor, but citations from social networks that localize are.
Finally, remember that Google isn’t the only search engine, and citations from Yahoo local and Bing are also still citations, as well as hoovering up some of those search engines’ relatively few users.
The best way to find out which directories you should be prioritizing is to see which of your competitors rank, then figure out which directories they’re in. Backlinking tools like Ahrefs will tell you which domains refer to a website, but you can get the quick and dirty version on Google Search: just search for your keywords, say, ‘moving company.’
This search, from a server in Detroit, MI, shows the top directories that answer that search query. So if you’re a moving company in Detroit, you want to be on Thumbtack, Craigslist and Angieslist.
Search for one of the top ranking SERPs here by name, and you’ll see all the directories they’re registered with serve you their listings.
I’m searching for Frisbie Moving (4th down).
As well as finding their company website, I’ve also found that they’re getting citations from Yelp, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Angieslist. So I’d need to get my fictitious Detroit movers on those directories too, because they’re probably the citations that are helping Frisbie rank so well.
Try it with your own area and steal a march on your competitors!
Building citations is time consuming and it has to be done right. But the rewards are tremendous in terms of increased traffic that’s actually relevant. It’s one of the most important ways for a moving business to increase visibility in local search. And it doesn’t have to be done all at once.
Hit the all stars like ones mentioned above. Don’t forget about small, local sources like local papers and directories. Target the big hitters first, making sure you’re listed on sites that give you SEO juice and show up in SERPs themselves.
And make sure you put your NAPs in the same way every time!