Google is causing many people to have inconsistent sleeping patterns. Especially if you are a small business owner, or a Franchise company that has multiple local franchisees, trying to get visibility in the local search results isn’t getting easier. To help understand the fundamentals of how to get found for local search, it is important to understand a few of the basics. Some of the things you will come across when trying to get found locally for search are NAP Consistency, Citation duplication and clean-up.
What is NAP Consistency?
Local search engines use NAP information (Name, Address, Phone number) found by crawling the web. Alternatively this can be received from data providers to determine the accuracy of the data in their own indexes. Consistent NAP information is essential to improving search engine rankings for businesses locally.
What is a Citation?
A citation is a mention of your business on a third party website. Citations, commonly referred to as Local Directory Listings, are essential for local search optimization. Examples of a citation include: a local directory, event site or review site. These mentions contain your business name, address and phone number (NAP). It is recommended that these citations contain much more detail about your business, for example, a description of services, working hours and images.
Numerous citations that display the same, consistent and accurate information about your business, will improve your ranking in local search results. Accuracy and quality of your online listings are crucial. Although the sheer quantity of citations holds value, quality reigns supreme.
Why have a citation “clean-up?” To rank well in local search engine optimization, inaccurate data must be cleared up. Examples of citation “clean-ups” include merging duplicate listings and creating new listings.
To accurately perform a citation cleanup program, you must ensure:
- 1. No duplicate citations or listings – as this is an important task
- Make a request to site for duplications to be removed or merged if there are reviews on it
- No incorrect citations with wrong phone numbers, old addresses, etc.
The United States local data market is more evolved and structured than other countries. Central data aggregators (Axciom, InfoUSA, NeustarLocaleze, Factual) distribute their data out to the wider universe of directories and citation sites.
Recently a franchisor asked us the benefits and pitfalls of using automated citation building and citation clean up type services. As with anything automated, you have to understand that it comes with its share of challenges.
Common Pitfalls of Using Automated Citation Building Tactics
When using automated citation building tactics there may be some common pitfalls.
Below are common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to automated citation building:
- It’s expensive and costs reoccur each year. i.e. maintain a yearly subscription
- Certain citation services limit the number of sites you can submit, don’t submit data to all main aggregators
- Slow updates and long lead times– citation listings via aggregates may take months to change
- Don’t create accounts or claim listings on all directories
- Some services do not offer a guarantee that submissions will go live
- Reporting is limited and cannot be emailed to clients
- Custom citation research may not be provided or be limited
- Trouble moving or merging duplicate listings
- Limited number of citations sites to submit to
10. Don’t submit to Google Places/+Local
11. Once you stop using their services, most if not all of your citations go back to where they were prior to you using the automated system. #Totallysucks
Why invest in Citation services?
Citation services require consistency and time. Many small businesses do not understand the nature of the citation landscape. Citation services take time to review, update and list on key citation sites. The gold standard would be to take a manual approach and ‘OWN’ your listings by doing them manually vs automated through a software.
Key reasons to invest in citation services include their ability to:
- Handle multi-location businesses
- Track campaigns
- Build niche citations
- Conduct localized research for some authority citation sites
Companies specializing in citation services are also aware of the citation submission rules and can select the best citations for your business.
For many business owners, the main goal of investing in citations is to help increase search engine optimization rankings and get referral traffic from credible sites
It is important to note that getting citations listed on five or six websites does not equate or achieve a strong, online presence for a business.
At ClickTecs, we advise customers to aim to build between 50 to 100 citations and then pause to see the impact these citations have on ranking. Submitting or updating these number of citations includes most of the valuable sites, including some decent vertical and local sites.
The team at ClickTecs has a great knowledge in the citation market. If you are struggling to deliver citations at scale, and/or are inquiring about citation submission services, contact the ClickTecs team today. Lastly, for those advanced users who want to know how to take this to the next level, we have found much success in coupling our manual citation building work with local seo optimization on your sites and unique local content to flood the market and help your business gain visibility.