We are entering the Local Search space and have been tasked with building citations for a large client. We’ve read all of your resources and they are great, but can you provide us some quick best practices to implement as we build citations for this client?
Answer: According to the most recent Local Search Ranking Factors report published by David Mihm in August 2013, Citations accounts for 16% of the total local optimization factors that determine how a business may competitively rank. That’s a significant portion of the overall pie and a clear reason why citations can’t be ignored.
A citation can be defined as a mention of your business. This is usually expressed via the acronym NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) and can appear on a plethora of other linking sites including local directories, forums, data aggregators, blogs, social media sites, government sites, and many more. Businesses that garner the most prominent and powerful citational sources within their niche usually perform better in local search rankings.
Here at SearchEngineNews.com we’ve covered the importance of citations in multiple articles and our highest recommendation is always to first review the following:
- The Best Local Search Tools for Heavy Listing
- Master List of UK Local Search Directories
- Your Professional Local Search Audit Checklist
- The Top 8 Local Search Ranking Factors of 2013
- Top Local Citation Sources for US & UK Businesses
Once you’ve read the above, head on over and read Phil Rozek’s Local Citation Building Best Practices guide. It contains 43 must-implement local advice nuggets that will shave HOURS off even the most arduous local citation building project.
As for our own citation building best practices, there are a couple that we absolutely feel are more important than others and they are as follows:
- Use the Right Tools: Start with GetListed.org to get an overview of your current local presence and then correct and claim all listing data returned. Supplement that with the WhiteSpark suite of local tools. Not only can you uncover niche-related local citations by keyword but you can also compare your site against known competitors to find and obtain citations they have that you don’t.
- Keep Track of your Work: Keeping track of your progress is absolutely essential to save time and effort in citation building. Fortunately, local SEO Casey Marez has put together a Local Citation Building Spreadsheetthat simplifies this process. So has Phil Rozak who we mentioned above. Another option is the Whitespark Citation Intake Form Template that they provide as part of their paid citation service. The form is very well put together and a great guide for firms and individuals doing their own citation building.
- Start with Tier One Data Providers: Head on over and review our Ultimate Local Citations Directory List. Scroll down to the section titled Primary Data Providers. These are considered the must list sources of local data and require owner-verification by mail or phone. These are the kind of citations that cannot be delegated and should be handled with the utmost care. Always focus on these first before moving on to the free and niche-related citations on your target list.
- Be wary of Yext: Yext is like the wallpaper of local citations. It’s a great way for you to find, correct and push-out uniform citations to a wide number of sources quickly. The problem is that once you stop paying, those citations will revert to “pre-Yext” levels. If you do not clean-up your citations or CLAIM the citations in advance, you’ll receive no long-term benefit at all from using Yext.
- Quality over Quantity: We can’t stress this enough: a good quality citation (usually from a Tier One provider) is worth 10X the ranking value of a free (and sometimes paid) citational source. A good example of this is Factual. Factual is currently free and is increasing in popularity. To submit to Factual visit this page and send them a data file by email. Make sure to review the Best US Citation Sources by Category resource maintained byGetListed.org. Getting citations from these category lists are likely to improve your rankings.
Local citation building is all about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. If you are an SEO concentrating on the local sphere formulating your own set of best practices will make the process substantially easier. Remember, work smarter, not harder. Now, go get those citations!
By Casey Markee, Writer & Lead SEO Consultant, Planet Ocean