We’ve had directory listings (also called citations) on our mind over the past couple of weeks, which you might have already known from our recent blog post about moving and local search. Since we moved, our team needed to update all of the GNGF citations to reflect our new address, which brings us to our latest SEO resolution for the current year: keeping directory listings correct and up-to-date.
We cover directory listings and their importance in an earlier blog post, but we’ll recap to save you the extra click (we’re just helpful like that).
Directory listings (aka citations) are a mention of your law firm online, typically including your firm name, address, and phone number (NAP). Many (but not all) directory services also offer space to include more information about your business, from a description of your services to your website URL.
Directory listings are a very important aspect of Google’s ranking algorithm. When your citations are correct, consistent, and not duplicated, you are signaling to Google that your firm is a real, credible business, which prompts Google to raise you in the ranking. (As we’ve covered before, you want to be on the first page in the top three slots to get the most exposure to people searching for your services.) Good citations validate your location to Google and also increase your visibility to clients who might be searching on websites other than Google (such as Yellowpages.com, for example).
It is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mistake to create these listings and then forget about them. Because the information you put in directory listings (or already exists online) spreads across the web and because directory listing services can change, you have to keep up with your listings to make sure that they stay correct. Directory services frequently pull new information from other websites, and the correct listing that you created months ago may have changed and become incorrect without your knowledge. (Please don’t shoot the messenger; we wish that this didn’t happen and that it was easier, too.)
You should examine your list of directory listings that you control on a regular basis. When was the last time you updated these listings? Ever? Has anything changed in your firm that needs to be updated online? (Maybe you moved offices, changed your phone number, or added a new partner to the firm and need to update your firm name.) Log into your accounts for these listings and make any needed updates.
Note: some directory websites will require you to re-verify your listing if you make changes to the name, address, or phone number.
Even if all of your information is correct, you still want to do a periodic update of your listings. Google (your most important listing!) is notorious for frequently updating the layout of the Google+ Local listings.
Just recently, Google updated the layout of Google+ Local pages. The cover photo increased in size, from 890×180, to 2120px by 1192px. The page’s profile photo is different, too: now a circle instead of a square. You can see the new layout below:
You should make sure that your listing’s images are properly sized on Google—and other sites—so that they reflect the professional image you want to portray online.
We’re over halfway done with our SEO Resolutions Series. (My, how time flies!) Check back with us next time, when we cover your firm’s online review strategy.