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A Canadian Guide To Google Local Business Citations

(Read the 2014 Version Here)

As I talked about in a previous post on the Top 10 Ranking Factors for Google Places, getting valuable local citations is the best way to dominate the rankings for Google's Local Business listings. A citation is where your business name, address and phone number is mentioned (or cited) by another website. Since some Canadian businesses don't have a website, Google is able to crawl any citations in content that mentions a business, even if a website is not linked from that page. However, having an incoming link from a citation source is preferable, as it is likely considered of higher value and the link can refer valuable traffic to your website.When ranking businesses for its local business listings (now called Google Places), Google looks at a variety of factor such as:

  1. How complete the listing is and which keywords it uses.
  2. The level of activity on the listing: visitor impressions, user reviews and map references.
  3. How many citations the business has received along with the quality and relevance of the citations.

After you've taken the time to fully complete your Google local business listing, you should focus on getting quality citations for your business. This is the most effective way to increase your local search rankings on Google Places.

Top 15 Canadian Business Listing Citations

These are the biggest general business listing directories in Canada, listed by their PageRank. Getting a proper citation for your business with an incoming link to your website from these 15 citation sources will provide a solid foundation for ranking on Google's local business listings. If you have found other business citations sources to be valuable, you can add them in the comments at the bottom.

Citation Source URL PageRank
YellowPages 8
Better Business Bureau 8
Canpages 7 7
Yelp 7
WorldWeb 7
CanadaOne 6
Profile Canada 6
Scott's Info 6
Found Locally 5
eSourceCanada 5
CanLinks 5
Canada Web Directory 5
Shop In Canada 5
N49 4

In addition to the big guys listed above, there are hundreds of smaller directories for Canadian businesses and their websites. However, adding your website to tons of business directories can be a huge waste of time. Most Canadian directories, free or paid, offer little or no help in building your local ranking on Google. In fact, most of these websites get little traffic apart from website promoters adding their own links and they will send you zero traffic. To identify a valuable link, I look for directory listings and websites that actually send decent traffic, if only an occasional trickle of visitors. Search engine algorithms are designed to analyze and mimic how people actually surf the web.  As a result, they most highly value links that people are regularly clicking on. For the local market here in Vancouver, I've compiled a list of about 30 decent directories through careful research and tracking, but these links aren't going to make a substantial difference in rankings in a highly competitive local niche. To achieve that, quality natural links are needed.

Getting Natural Links To Your Website

Even more important than links from directories, Google wants to see natural links to your website from local community websites, blogs and the local media. If you support a local softball team, a community event or a charity, try to get an incoming link from their website. To attract links from local blogs, the best way is to have a regularly updated blog on your business website. From your blog, you can link out to other local bloggers. If your content is useful and you take the time to ask them, many local bloggers will give you a reciprocal link. To get links from local newspapers, websites and publications, send out press releases and respond to article calls. Typical, the best way to get people to talk about your business and link to your website, is to build a relationship with them. When you meet people networking, at tradeshows and in your business community, ask them if they are interested in exchanging links since both your businesses can benefit.

Creating Effective Local Citations

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when doing link building and completing business citation listings:

  1. Consistency - use the same business name, address and phone number on all your listings.
  2. Be Patient -  it may take 2-3 months for all your citations to appear at the bottom of your Google Places profile listing.
  3. Get Deep Links - try to get some of your local links directly to your content rather than your homepage.
  4. Build Links Gradually - Instead of adding all your links and citations at once, add them gradually over time.
  5. Include Images - Whenever possible, take advantages of options to include a logo, pictures or videos.