A citation consists of the name, address, phone number (also known as NAP) of your bed and breakfast, and may also include your website as well as other specific details. Building citations for your local lodging business is an important strategy to attract more visitors to your site. Google counts these quality citations and uses them in evaluating the online authority of your site. Needless to say if you’re #1 in Google’s local search results, your business will get a hefty number of clicks or calls, which can further lead to a sale.
Important Notes to Remember When Building Citations
Building citations is time-consuming and the number of online travel directories out there can be overwhelming. Before you start working on it, read the following first.
- Ensure that your NAP is exactly the same as the one in your website and your Google+ Local page.
- Don’t use a P.O. Box address or a 1-800 number. You want your B&B to be identified in a local area, so using your actual location and area code will definitely help. Also, Google+ doesn’t allow you to use a P.O. Box and since you want all addresses to be consistent, you’ll want to avoid doing so.
- Avoid duplicate listings in the same directory.
- Request for edits if the listing is incorrect, e.g. old phone number.
- Claim ownership and verify your listing if you can. Verified accounts have more credibility and allow you to update information anytime.
- Do not fall for link-exchange requests just to get your site listed.
- Choose the directories or sites that you want to get listed. Are they quality sites? To determine this browse around the site and check if it’s regularly maintained. Do the listings look spammy? It’s not about the quantity but the quality of the citations. If the site won’t help you reach your target customers, it might be better to just skip it.
Websites for Building Citations
1. Google+ Local
This is definitely on top of the list because Google likes Google. Before you add your profile, first make sure you’re not already listed. Go to plus.google.com/local and search for your B&B name. If you do find it, claim the business and complete the information therein. Write a keyword-rich description but be careful not to make it sound spammy. Submit photos and videos if you have any. Most importantly, verify your business by having Google send you a postcard with a verification code.
It is also recommended to insert the Google+ badge to your website’s home page, and encourage your guests to write reviews about their experience staying at your B&B. Positive reviews help your business gain more credibility and consequently make you look good in Google’s eyes.
First off, this Local Citation Finder tool is not free BUT they do have a free trial of three searches per day. If you do decide to sign up, it’ll cost you $20 for a monthly subscription.
Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder has two search categories: Keyphrase Search and Business Search. The Keyphrase Search helps you look for more directories that are relevant to your business and area.
Let’s say we are looking for citation sources in Napa. Enter the location “Napa” and the keyphrase “bed and breakfast.” You can also vary the keyphrase to anything B&B-related, e.g. inn, lodging, hotel, rentals. Then hit the Search Button, wait a couple minutes, and view the results in the “Your Search Results” tab.
You can also do a Business Search to find out where your competitors are listed. Just enter the location, phone number, and business name.
After a short wait, head on to the “Your Search Results” tab and you’ll see a variety of sites where the competitor appears. Now here’s the kink about Whitespark no matter how helpful I find it to be—you have to be wary of irrelevant sites. In the screenshot below, the first one on the list is domaintuno.com, which is actually a domain analyzer site and does not entirely have any use for citation building. There are many items like this, which can be annoying, so what you do is click the arrow under the Status column and choose “Useless.” Do not be distressed; you will eventually find gold mines in the list but you just have to first weed out the rotten eggs first.
Majestic is a very comprehensive tool for getting to know your own business and your competitors. Just enter the website URL and Majestic will locate all the backlinks to that site. These backlinks may be travel directories or blog posts, which you can use as your prospects for building citations. The screenshot below shows a few samples of pages that link to gatewaysinn.com. You can download the entire data and view them in Excel format for easier note-taking.
4. Google Search
Since Majestic needs a subscription to view the complete data, there’s an alternative cost-free way—ask Google himself. Do the following search query:
“Competitor’s name” AND “Competitor’s postal code” –site:http://competitorswebsite.com
Just like Majestic, the search results will provide you with the sites that link to your competitor. The string “-site:gatewaysinn.com” automatically removes Gateways Inn’s sites from the results for you.
5. Google Analytics Referrals
If you handle more than one bed and breakfast account or other travel-related sites, take advantage of the vast sources of citations you can find in the Referrals tab in Google Analytics. Add your B&B to these relevant referral sites if it is not listed yet.
6. Bed and Breakfast Directories
Here is a list of free bed and breakfast directories you can sign up to and submit a listing. Always keep a record of your login and password so you can easily update information in the future.
If your bed and breakfast also offers an on-site restaurant, wedding venue, day spa, or pet-friendly room, you can always find other directories that cater to these categories. And always start from locations that are closest to you, like the nearby businesses in town that may have a page on their website for recommended places to stay.
These are my tips for building citations for bed and breakfast sites. Do you have any other tips or directories that have greatly improved your local search results? Please reply in the comments section below!