There is a simple marketing tactic that can give any antiques dealer an edge against local competition. The tactic works not because it is inherently powerful but because most antiques dealers ignore it altogether. The tactic is to employ and optimize local citations. Doing so improves your search engine page position, allowing in more people to be exposed to your business online. More exposure results in more phone calls, foot traffic and sales.
A citation is beautifully simple: it lists the name, address, phone number and web address of your business. This information, generally referred to as NAP, is a foundational element of Google local search. There are two common citation sources: online directories and press releases.
Why an antiques dealer’s local citations are important
Research shows that 95% of all website clicks come from Google’s page one results. Divide the remaining 5% of clicks between the thousands of remaining pages and you will understand why getting to page one is so important. Dealers who are having trouble reaching page one can improve their rank by optimizing their directory citations
Consider the structure of a Google page-one search result: Using the search “antiques Annapolis Md,” you’ll notice the following distribution among the page-one results:
At the top of the page (under the paid ads, if there are any) is the “three-pack,” a group of three local businesses. Google’s algorithm has chosen these three businesses as the top antiques store choices for Annapolis (based on reviews, backlinks, citations and website optimization).
A study by seoClarity (www.seoclarity.net/how-googles-local-pack-update-has-reshaped-the-organic-landscape-12952) reports that three-packs top the pages in 93% of all Google searches. Being included in a three-pack is the most important thing a dealer can do to increase traffic and sales.
Also included on page one of this search are:
- Five directory listings
- Two Facebook pages
- Three antiques dealer websites (one of which is already included in the three-pack)
Page two of my Annapolis search (showing 10 organic/unpaid results per page) displays two dealer websites and eight directories: mapquest.com, antiquestorefinder.com, angieslist.com, tasteofthebay.net, thrifthappy.com, groupon.com, antiquesshoppesusa.com and bestthingsmaryland.com.
With 10 listings on each page, distribution on subsequent pages is:
- page 3: eight directories, one social media page, one store website
- page 4: five directories, one social media page, one store website, two newspaper articles, one jobs listing
- page 5: six directories and four laterally related websites (shipping, etc.)
It’s evident that Google relies on directories to bring suitable search results to their users (at least in this “antiques” search). Perhaps there aren’t enough dealer websites to fill the pages and Google must rely on directories and social media pages instead. That would be good news for dealers who have substituted a Facebook page for a website, or who list only in directories. But, dealers with a quality website have a clear advantage because they can appear multiple times in search results and perhaps attain a coveted three-pack position.
Which directories are best for you? The answer varies according to your locality. In developing a list, start with your local market, then expand to regional and national directories. Here’s an effective discovery method:
How to find suitable local directories:
- Perform a Google search using relevant keywords, such as “antiques <your town>” and “business directories <your town>.”
- Browse the first five pages of search results, noting which directories are already being indexed by Google and used by competing antiques dealers.
- List with your local Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Board, City directory, or other local association.
- Join your Better Business Bureau local chapter.
- Join state and local antiques dealer associations and list in their directories. You can find a list of such associations by searching “<your state> antiques dealers association.”
For regional and national directories, investigate:
- Reputable media directories such as Kovels.com, Antique Trader Magazine or other authoritative industry publications that serve your area.
Creating a Google My Business listing is imperative for ranking well in local search (www.google.com/business). Facebook and Pinterest appear often in Google search results and are worth investigating.
Paid directories aren’t inherently better than free directories. The most important factor in creating citations is to use directories that are relevant to your business or locality. You can’t have too many citations, so list your business with as many as you can afford. Don’t limit yourself to Google. Although Google is the dominant search engine, also check Bing.com and Yahoo.com
Getting citations from press releases
According to LegalZoom.com, a press release becomes part of a company’s public record and is downloadable for the foreseeable future (www.legalzoom.com/articles/why-press-releases-are-more-important-than-ever). When a release is distributed across the internet, each published page represents a new citation for your business (because the top of every press release lists your company’s NAP).
You may have noticed that my Annapolis antiques dealer search analysis above included two newspaper articles. These articles didn’t magically appear; a conscientious dealer sent a newsworthy press release to a distribution service which published the release online; search engines picked up the citation and indexed the release; the distribution service sent to release to a publication subscriber list; a reporter discovered the release and wrote the article; the article was picked up by news syndicates and distributed nationally; and Google indexed the articles for local search.
Don’t be shy about sending press releases; news outlets crave subject matter. According to a Meltwater infographic “9 PR Stats to Consider When Writing Your 2019 Press Release” (www.meltwater.com/uk/blog/9-pr-stats-2019/#), journalists may be required to write up to seven stories per day. The pressure to find newsworthy topics is intense. Reporters maintain that press releases are their number-one method of obtaining news stories.
Ensure that your releases are newsworthy, though. For example, acquisition of a new inventory item isn’t grounds for a press release. Donating an antique to a museum, participating in or sponsoring a charity fundraiser, a staff promotion, a certification earned, or an appraisal fair are all newsworthy and good subjects for a press release.
Adding an “in the news” section to your website is an effective way to lend authority to your website. The St. Michaels, Maryland auction house Guyette and Deeter has collected 20 years’ worth of press releases on their site: guyetteanddeeter.com/press-release.php.
Most press release distribution services will (for an additional fee) write your release. The service that I recommend for local PR is Send2Press.com. They have a statewide plan that is affordable (www.send2press.com). If you opt for national distribution, be certain that your news will be of interest to a national audience.
If you prefer to write your own releases, you can find sample press release templates all over the web. Prowley.com offer 13 templates at https://prowly.com/magazine/press-release-templates/ and downloadable templates in MS Word and Google Docs formats can be found at smartsheet.com.
Don’t be the dealer who ignores directory citations. Build your citations and watch your web page position improve.