Years ago, our family purchased a piece of commercial real estate. At the time, the valley in which it sat was nearly empty, a quiet oasis spotted with cows and a few modest farmhouses. However, expansion was happening all around our small town, and my dad thought acquiring the real estate might pay off in the future.

Over time, the little valley saw massive change. A new hospital was built, housing developments went in, and businesses and warehouses were going up everywhere. The slice of real estate was subdivided and eventually sold.

From this, I learned a valuable lesson about calculated risk and the importance of location, location, location. Currently, online real estate is in as high demand as a lot in a desirable neighborhood in a booming city.

Over the past few years, directories have taken up more and more valuable real estate on search engines, and leveraging those directories well has paid big dividends for many businesses that see their value.

In today’s digital ecosystem, having consistent and accurate business information is more than just a convenience—it’s a competitive necessity. Directory management ensures that a business’s details are uniformly presented across online directories.

Meanwhile, citation management revolves around the monitoring and management of how a business is mentioned on various online platforms. Together, directory and citation management play a foundational role in enhancing a brand’s online visibility, credibility, and performance.

In Directories, Consistency Is King

Search engines, notably Google and Bing, place considerable emphasis on consistent business information when determining trust and authority. In fact, BrightLocal determined that up to 7 percent of search ranking factors are influenced by consistent listings.1 When you also optimize your Google Business Profile, this jumps significantly, up to 28 percent.

Moreover, customers routinely use online directories and listings as touch points. Inconsistencies in business information can breed confusion and mistrust. Another study by BrightLocal highlighted that a whopping 68 percent of consumers would reconsider engaging with a business if they encountered incorrect information online.2

What exactly are the benefits of directory and citation management?

  • Enhanced local search engine optimization (SEO): Properly managed listings are instrumental for local SEO, with consistent citations a key factor in Google’s local search algorithm.
  • Trust and credibility: Consumers will distrust a brand if they find inconsistent contact details or business names online.
  • Ease of management: Directory management tools consolidate listings across platforms, streamlining updates and minimizing errors.
  • Real-time updates: Directory management ensures that modifications, whether changed business hours or new promotions, are immediately reflected across all platforms.
  • Monitoring and responding to reviews: Platforms such as Yelp or Tripadvisor empower customers to share experiences. Engaging with customer reviews is vital for maintaining a positive brand image.
  • Analytics and insight: Some software, like your Google Business Profile, allow you to dive deep into directory performance to tweak and optimize marketing strategies. Adding a call-tracking number for directories can also help you gauge how big of an impact directories have on your business.

Going through every directory to claim or create a listing, ensure proper optimization, and manage the listings over time would be a daunting task. For this reason, there are many businesses that have popped up over the past decade that employ directory-management tools.

Here are a few to compare to see what might make the most sense for your business:

Moz Local

  • Features: Integration with major data aggregators, real-time updates, and review monitoring.
  • Best for businesses looking for robust SEO tools alongside directory management.
  • Cost: Mid-tier pricing with a focus on providing comprehensive SEO insight.

BrightLocal

  • Features: Local SEO tools, citation tracking, review management, and detailed performance analytics.
  • Best for local businesses aiming for a strong presence in their geographic region.
  • Cost: Offers varied plans catering to both small businesses and agencies.

Yext

  • Features: Direct integration with over 100 directories, real-time updates, review monitoring, and analytics.
  • Best for larger enterprises or businesses looking for extensive directory coverage.
  • Cost: Premium pricing but offers a comprehensive suite of features.

Whitespark

  • Features: Local citation finder, local rank tracking, and reputation building for reviews.
  • Best for businesses that want a focus on both citations and reviews.
  • Cost: Modular pricing based on features, allowing businesses to pick what they need.

When selecting a tool, businesses should consider their specific needs, budget constraints, and desired level of integration with other platforms.

Over the years, when I’ve spoken with business owners and managers, a few common misconceptions about directories have bubbled to the surface.

  • Myth 1: Only the big directories matter.

Fact: Smaller, niche directories can significantly impact SEO and local credibility.

  • Myth 2: It’s a set-and-forget game.

Fact: The digital realm is always evolving. Regular updates and checks are crucial to maintain consistency.

  • Myth 3: Every directory offers the same value.

Fact: Directories cater to varied audiences, and their impact can differ based on the industry and locale.

Because the water-treatment industry has experienced a surge in demand due to increasing concerns about water quality and health, online visibility for water-treatment suppliers is more crucial than ever.

Here’s how my organization has seen properly managed directories work for many of the dealers we partner with:

  • Local demand and trust: Many consumers prefer local suppliers for their water-treatment needs due to the trust factor and quick service availability. Ensuring accurate listings means that a local supplier can easily be found and contacted when needed.
  • Educational content: The water-treatment industry often relies on educating its consumers about the benefits of treated water. Accurate citations can lead consumers to the right resources, helping them make informed decisions.
  • Regulations and standards: The industry is bound by numerous regulations and standards, which can vary by region. A national supplier with multiple branches needs to ensure the information related to each location, such as certifications, available treatments, or adherence to local guidelines, is consistent and accessible.
  • High competition: With numerous suppliers in the market, consumers have myriad options. Inconsistent business information can drive potential customers away, either to a competitor that is more prominent online or one that appears more reliable due to consistent listings.
  • Service variation: Not all water-treatment suppliers offer the same range of services. Directory management can help dealers highlight their unique offerings and ensure they’re found by consumers looking for those specific services.
  • Reviews and reputation: Given the health implications of water quality, customers are likely to heavily weigh reviews and recommendations. Managing and responding to these reviews across various platforms is paramount in maintaining a positive industry reputation.

By investing in directory and citation management, home water treatment suppliers—whether local outfits or sprawling national chains—can ensure they’re easily found by consumers, project a trustworthy image, and continue to thrive in a competitive market.

The first page of a search engine is highly sought-after real estate. Instead of trying to compete locally with national sites, use them to your advantage and ensure directory optimization is an integral part of your online marketing mix.

References

  1. Sammy Paget, “Local SEO Ranking Factors 2023,” BrightLocal, December 15, 2021. www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-seo/introduction-to-local-seo/ranking-factors/.
  2. Rosie Murphy, “Local Citations Trust Report,”BrightLocal, March 27, 2018. www.brightlocal.com/research/local-citations-trust-report/.

About the author

Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water-treatment companies profitably grow their dealerships using digital marketing. They have worked with over 100 water-treatment dealerships spanning North America, managed millions of dollars in ad spend, and performed over 1,000 scientific website split tests. Crangle intimately knows the water industry, having worked in a dealership as a sales rep and as a general manager.

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