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What is your Best Digital Marketing Investment

Is a web site YOUR  best marketing investment as a small business?

Many experts believe an interactive web site is the best investment for a small business and especially for a new start up.  But this opinion is not necessarily true.  An investment made for a Local Search Presence will be an added benefit that:

  • Is accomplished for free,
  • requires minimal investment of your time,
  • and requires no technical skill.

What is the first step?

The first step is to get registered with Google My Business (formerly Google Maps). Since 94.8% of mobile traffic is on Google as of August 2020, Google is your best option.  The next and most critical step is to identify the keywords your customers would use when searching for your type of business. 

It is best if these key words can be included in your domain name, company name and most definitely in the description of your business.  Using comparable words across theses identifiers will increase your chances of being found with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

What is Local Search Engine Optimization?

Local SEO is all about increasing search visibility for businesses that serve their communities face-to-face. These can be brick-and-mortar businesses with physical locations, like a grocery store or dentist's office, or service-area businesses that operate throughout a certain geographic area, like an electrician or house cleaning company. Local SEO includes many activities:

  • Claiming a business listing on Google My Business
  • Claiming a business listing on other indexes called Local Citations
  • Active Citation Management maintaining accuracy and advertising or posting
  • Active Review management of customer reviews
  • Local-centric social media engagement

Claiming Your Business Listing

Claiming a listing online verifies that you’re the owner of a valid business and are authorized to maintain its presence on the web. Each online local business index has its own claiming process with unique steps to verify your listing.

What is a Local Citation?

A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number (NAP) for a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms. Citations help Internet users to discover local businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings. Local businesses can actively manage citations to ensure data accuracy.

The core components of a citation are a company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) and can also include a reference or link to a designated page of the company’s website. In addition to this, a citation may incorporate some or all of the following elements:

  • Images
  • Posts
  • Events
  • Advertising
  • Coupons

In summary:  Citations are publications of your core business data on the Internet. They influence consumer discovery and local search engine rankings. Accurate citations positively impact rankings, reputation, and revenue, whereas inaccurate citations detract from these assets. Due to the high stakes of these assets, active location data management is a necessity for all local businesses, and you can choose from manual, semi-automated, and automated solutions for your business. You must fully research each potential option or service you consider to discover whether your investment of resources will result in meaningful value.

Where to Get Citations:

Your Google My Business listing is the most important listing to develop and manage well. Google’s domination of local search makes your listing there incredibly valuable.

You can use a Citation Management Program to register your business listings in other search engines, local business directories, and apps that offer a specific structure for listings. There’s a core set of quality platforms on which nearly any type of local business can get listed; Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Yellow Pages, Yext and Yelp. The more your listing, the better your Internet presence and the higher your Google ranking.

Citation Management Programs:

Paid Citation Management Programs  (priced annually at time of publication)

  • Advice Local at $ 180.00
  • Bright Local at $ 348.00 
  • MOZ at $ 99.00 (limited to 40 citation sites)
  • WhiteSpark free for 3 daily searches or $ 204.00 for 30 daily searches
  • Yext at $ 199,00

DIY Citation Management Program

  • Do It Yourself:   Greater Knoxville SCORE provides a free Do It Yourself (DIY) spreadsheet that can be easily used to successfully manage your citations.
      It is critical that your NAP information be very consistent and that you record your name and password in order to change data when later needed.  As the “claimer” of the listing, only you have access in the future.
  • Free Citation Scan Programs:  The following web sites provide a scan listing which shows the sites that have not yet been listed. Caution:  The data will not be consistent.  These firms sell citation management programs software.

Free counseling about these requirements or any other concerns you may have about starting your business is available by calling SCORE (865)692-0716 or register for a SCORE Mentor on our web site at

SOURCE: ,additions by Walter Williams, SCORE Mentor Feb 2021


412 N Cedar Bluff Rd Ste 450,
Knoxville, TN 37923
(865) 692-0716

Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association,

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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