What are Online Citation Directories and Aggregators
Online citation directories are an important part of local SEO for churches. Citation directories are online directories, where all types of businesses can list their contact details so that they are more easily found online. All citation directories allow churches to list their main contact details, Name, Address, and Phone Number (also known as NAP), but some directories allow churches to list further details, such as hours of operation, photos, website URL, and more. Many citation directory submissions are made manually, and while these submissions are valuable to improving a church’s online visibility, doing so can be very time-consuming.
Data Aggregators are tools that can distribute your church’s contact details to hundreds or even thousands of online directories automatically, and allow you to manage them from the dashboard of the data aggregator. Distributing online citations in this way has the obvious benefit of distributing your online citations a lot faster than doing them all manually. It also has the benefit of allowing you to easily update your listings should your details change, without having to remember which sites you added citations to, and then manually updating them individually.
Whether you are using Online Citation Directories manually, using Data Aggregators, or both, adding online citations is a very important part of local SEO for your church. Google crawls these listings, and when it comes across many listings that are all consistent with your contact information, it shows Google that your church likely exists at the location that it claims, and warrants being shown higher up in the search results because of it.
On the other hand, having few online citations, or even worse having lots of online citations that show conflicting information (such as different addresses and phone numbers) can have a negative effect on your church website’s local SEO, so it is vital to keep these up to date.
Which Online Citation Directories and Data Aggregators Should a Church Use
There are thousands of online directories available, so you might be asking yourself which one’s are the best ones to use. To help you decide where you should best spend your time and budget, we have outlined the best online citation directories and data aggregators here.
Before you start your online citation campaign, you must ensure that your contact details are 100% correct on your website and displayed prominently (most often in the footer of your website). All of your online citations should stem from the details that are displayed on your website, so it is important that they are correct.
We will start off by showing you 3 of the most important online citation directories you should be submitting to manually.
Online Citation Directories
1. Google My Business
If you were to only submit your church’s contact details to one single place online, it would be to Google My Business. Google MyBusiness is the panel you see in the sidebar of Google when you search for a business or a church, like this one below:
It is absolutely vital that your Google My Business listing is fully completed, kept up to date with the correct contact information. Google will use this to display your data in the Google Seach results and in Google Maps, and this is the first place people will look when they search for your church. In order to claim access to your church’s Google My Business and shape it as you see fit, you’ll need to perform verification – most often done by receiving a postcard from Google at your physical address.
As you can see in the example above, people can also leave reviews of your church here. This is another very important ranking signal for Google. The more reviews you can get from visitors to your church, the better. Even if you receive negative reviews, it is important to engage with these people, and address any issues they may have had.
Completing your Google My Business profile will allow your church to be found in Google Maps. While Google Maps is the most popular map platform, Apple Maps is also a vital place to submit your NAP information. Apple has the largest market share in the USA of any phone manufacturer, so it makes sense to add your information to their native mapping app. Once you have your details submitted to both Google My Business and Apple Maps, this will ensure you can be found from any Apple iOS or Android device.
Here is how to add your information to Apple Maps:
- Visit https://mapsconnect.apple.com/
A valid Apple ID is required, so if you do not have one already, create one now.
- Select your relationship to your business.
On the “Add a New Business Page”, which is appear after logging in, you have two options to choose from:
– I’m the business owner
-I’m authorized by the business owner
- Enter your church details
Here you enter all the contact details of your church, ensuring that they match exactly the details on your website, and also the details in your Google My Business account.
- Verify your church’s phone number.
To verify your phone number, Apple will call you and give you a pin number that you will then enter into your account to verify.
- Confirm your Category
Here you can select from an extensive list of categories. You should be exact, and you can pick up to three, so you might choose “religious organization” and “non-denominational church” for example.
- Confirm your hours of operation.
Specify your hours of operation, where you can add either your office opening hours, or your sermon times.
- Add your church website and social media accounts.
Next, you add the details of your church website, and any social media pages you have. Be sure to complete this as much as possible.
- Review your church’s information.
After you verify that everything looks good, click “OK” and that’s it. The standard given time to appear in Apple Maps is within a week.
Bing, owned by Microsoft, is the second most widely used search engine in the USA, after Google. While Google’s market share is much larger, it is still important to add your church information to Bing also. Bing still gets a significant amount of searches, which could bring in additional traffic.
Adding your details to Bing Places is much the same as adding your details to Google My Business and to Apple Maps. Once again, just be sure to check that the details you enter are 100% consistent across all three platforms. Here’s how you add your information to Bing:
Once you have created the three online citations above, you can begin to create citations with other directories across the web. There are thousands of citation directories, and submitting to all of these would be incredibly time-consuming. To combat this, so we have outlined the “Big 3” data aggregators you should consider using.
Factual no longer permits individual businesses to submit listing information to its local data aggregator engine. Since 2019, Factual only accepts submissions from Trusted Data Contributors (TDC’s) such as Yext or Moz Local. This means that businesses can no longer submit their own listings directly. You can find a complete list of TDC’s here. Factual submission is also available via Missional Marketing’s Local SEO Citation product.
Infogroup says it is “… the leading provider of business data to the top search engines, navigation systems, mobile apps, marketing information programs and location-based apps. Our data powers the top search engines, because we provide the most accurate, continually-verified collection of real-time business data available, delivered through powerful technology.”
To use Infogroup, you search for your listing via their online tool ExpressUpdate. Here you can update your existing information, or add a new listing, which will be dispersed throughout Infogroups network.
Neustar Localeze “understands how important local visibility is for small brick and mortar businesses. Our True Identity™ service enables businesses to update their local listing information with over 100 local search platforms, mobile applications, navigation systems, and directories at one time – from one place.”
To update or add your church listing, you will first have to sign up for an account, which starts from $79 per year. This will allow you to add and update your listings across Neustar Localeze’s network.
Creating and managing online citations, and ensuring their consistency and accuracy across the web is a complicated and time-consuming business. However, it is also of vital importance to your SEO, and a well-managed citation profile can make all the difference between ranking well in local searches.
Missional Marketing have created a service where we manage your complete citation profile. This ensures that your listings are always accurate and up to date. We will create citations across hundreds of online directories. These including Google My Business, Apple Maps, Bing, and the “Big 3” data aggregators. This takes away the time and hassle of creating these yourself, and ensures that you can always be easily found online. If you would like to learn more about our Local SEO services for churches, get in touch with us today.