Consumers rely on the internet and search engines to interact with local businesses. According to Google, four out of five consumers use search engines to find products, services or experiences nearby. These are searches for anything from the best pizza in town to the fastest hair salon. Getting found on local searches is what drives consumers to your front door and ultimately drives top-line revenue for local businesses.

So what’s a Data Aggregator?

Basically, data aggregators are the companies that supply information to major search engines like Google. These aggregators build massive business databases (including businesses like yours) from valuable listing sources like phone directories, utility records, and various online information providers… an unbelievable amount of business data that search engines look to when finding local listing information for businesses.

Data aggregators maintain their databases contain business information that search engines seek out to display for consumers. Data aggregators provide that information to a multitude of online resources such as Google Maps, Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Apple/Siri, and Facebook to help businesses get found correctly.

Obviously, these are crucial places to be listed for businesses who want to be found online. And it’s absolutely essential for these data providers to have correct information – if not, you risk your business not being found by potential consumers.

What is a citation?

As mentioned above, a citation is simply anytime a business is mentioned somewhere online. It can be a link to a website, but it doesn’t have to be. A citation might appear online as

  • Your company name (alone)
  • Your phone number (alone)
  • Your company name and phone number
  • Your company name, phone number and address
  • Your company name, phone number, address and website link

Anyone of these combinations is considered a citation, but it’s not considered complete without the company’s NAP data – that is, the name, address and phone number. Businesses who have their NAP data correct with the major data providers have a better chance of seeing their correct information appearing all across the web.

Citations can be structured or unstructured:

structured citation is the most common, and usually the most detailed when consumers are looking for business information; examples include business listing sites like Yellow Pages, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. In most cases, these citations contain the NAP for a business, something consumers are looking for in local search.

An unstructured citation can be found on random websites, blogs, event listings, job posting sites, government records, or social media mentions. They’re considered unstructured because they could be as simple as a mention of your company name,and they usually don’t include NAP data.

No matter how a citation appears, it has influence on the local search ranking in some way for a particular business. Data aggregators play an important role in getting a business listed or found on many major websites.

The importance of building citations

Citations have a major influence on local search rankings. Basically, the more times your business is mentioned online, the better chance your business has to rank near the top of local search results.

Google’s search ranking algorithm has many moving parts, which means that citation building isn’t the only thing a business has to do in order to rank on search engines. Online reviews, mobile compatibility, domain authority and keyword density are just a few other factors that influence local search.

This doesn’t mean that citations don’t play an important role in local search ranking, though. In fact, local search studies suggest that citation related factors are very important: they make up 25% of the top twenty factors that influence local search.

What exactly do data aggregators do?

Data aggregators provide a lot of the data to search engines when conducting a local search. The aggregators own the space known as the local search ecosystem, a place where local searches get all of their data.

Many major directories and listings sites rely on four major data providers – Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual – for their information. As mentioned earlier, these data aggregators are the foundation of those structured citations on major sites.

Although the picture might seem like a lot to comprehend, the underlying message that you should take away from this is really simple: make sure your business data is correct with the major data aggregators.

Incorrect data on any of these aggregators could mean that a business’s information online is extremely inconsistent or downright wrong on many major listings sites and directories. Inconsistent information hurts your search engine rankings, so be sure your business is correctly listed with all the major players.

Not only does inconsistency hurt search engine ranking, but it hurts a business. Consumers don’t trust businesses with inconsistent information online—73% of consumers lose trust in brands due to inaccurate local business listings

Business citations rely on the power of data aggregators! We see that data aggregators have a major influence on the number of reputable sources that a business is cited on because they automatically input business data into various sources for a business. This means not having to manually plug in information into each and every business-relevant site on the worldwide web.

Get it right!

There is no secret or fancy trick to optimizing your online citations. It’s as simple as making sure the online information about your business is correct and getting it right with the major data aggregators for those vital local search results. Local search is a major deal for your business – especially for a small business – and a company with nonexistent online visibility is likely headed for trouble.

Want to learn how you can apply these techniques to your own business?

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