Here is the Transcript for Episode 67 How To Build Citations For A Business Yourself Or With Local Citation Services; </b >
Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks. We bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host Jesse Dolan. I’m here with Bob Brennan in studio, again for this episode here, and we’re going to be talking about citations. That’s a term some of you might be familiar with out there. Others, maybe you haven’t heard of it. Most people usually aren’t very super in depth knowledgeable about it. So we’re going to kind of do a bit of a deep dive today on what they are, how to leverage them, why they’re important and how to keep them accurate going forward and really bring it all around full circle on what does this mean for SEO and for your business. Before we get into that though, we got to mention our free instant SEO audit tool.
Go on out to localseotactics.com, click on the yellow button in the top right corner, free instant SEO audit. Plug in your domain or competitor’s domain, pop in your keyword you want to audit against, and you can use this tool multiple times on the same page for different keywords too. It’s kind of a unique way to use it and see how your page or your competitor’s page is optimized for that keyword. Find out what you need to fix to improve your score, to gain more ranking and more exposure, and ultimately do more business. So check that out. Use it as often as you want. You can run the report, make some changes, run it again or like I just said, run it against multiple keywords and kind of do batches on that, localseotactics.com, top right corner. Check it out. All right.
So citations. First things first is what are they? So we’re going to start by talking about you have your website, right? Your own.com. So localseotactics.com. That’s your website. That’s your kind of main entity. That’s where really all your SEO kind of culminates. Everything that we do here for SEO is to increase our rankings for that website. Now the most powerful citation, I guess, is the way I would put it is your Google My Business profile. A citation kind of in a generic way is a listing for your business that’s not on your website. That’s like the most simplest way to put it. Google My Business is a listing of your website. I’m sorry. Of your business that’s not on your website. That’s not on your .com or your domain. Google My Business is ridiculously important for being found in Google. We’ve talked about that.
That’s how you show up in the map pack and everything else, but then further expanding on that, what other citations are, are those other portals, not Google that allow you to list your business. Yelp is probably a popular one everybody’s pretty familiar with, whether you use Yelp as a user, or whether you curse at Yelp, if you’re a business owner or a marketer, but they do provide leads. They do provide a service, but their tactics sometimes people can kind of gripe about, so I make fun of them there, but they’re another good example of what a citation is. You’re listed on Yelp. You have a profile. It’s pretty robust citation compared to some of the other ones we’re going to get into. But again, there’s another example. It has your name, your address, your phone number, your website, information about you, but housed under some other .com. Another popular one is MapQuest. Same thing there. In that case, people aren’t kind of getting quotes and interacting with you like they’re on Yelp.
It’s a listing of who you are, where you are and getting directions and some things like that. But again, this is your business listed on mapquest.com. And that’s what a citation is. So kind of take that, set it aside for a minute. That’s what a citation is. Now we’re going to come into why are they important, and then kind of circle back to talking about some different citation spots and how to leverage them and things like that. So why are these important for you, for your SEO on your website? If you can imagine then, we used the example before, Google is like a big file cabinet of information for your business, right? You develop your website and submit it to Google to get found. Now they have that bit of information in their file cabinet for you about what you do, who you are, where you’re at, your products and services.
Now you develop your Google My Business profile. They have even more information about you right? Now they see you have a MapQuest listing and a Yelp listing and so on and so forth. They start to understand the overall scope and breadth of what you do, how many people are liking you, how many reviews are you getting, how many people are mentioning you, what kind of traffic stats or visibility stats are on these various platforms. If it’s online, Google can scrape it, they can digest it and they can kind of assimilate that into their file system and make generalizations about you and your company. So these citations out there are important because like it or not, your business is probably mentioned on a score or scores of websites out there, again like Yelp or MapQuest or Easy Local, things like that.
And that’s not a bad thing, right? The more you get mentioned, the more relevancy and authority generically speaking, at least the more authority and relevance you have because you’re being mentioned more, you’re being talked about more, it’s more reference points about your company. All things being equal, somebody who has more being talked about them out there on Google, it should show up for related searches more than somebody who’s not being talked about. That’s one of the core ways that Google decides who’s the most relative and authoritative on a topic. Now, the tricky part with these citations is sometimes they can be auto created. Let’s say like Yellow Pages, for example, might find your Google My Business listing and scrape that data and create a Yellow Pages listing or Yelp might do that, or various other services will scrape other listings and create one within their own profile.
They’re doing that because they want their website to become popular. They want to get traffic. They want to build out that database. So in turn, like a popular model is that then they would charge somebody to get listed or charge somebody to maybe get a premium version of that listing. There’s lots of reasons why this information would be scraped and added to these other third party websites. At the end of the day, your problem as a marketer or a business owner is the inconsistency of all that data. And that’s where the first part of the citations comes into play is kind of an audit and clean up. So the first thing we want to do is find all the places that we’re listed out there. The couple of ways you can do that.
One is doing some Google searches, do some searching for your business name, your address, your phone number, and various combinations of that. But if you’re a Chrome user, I want to tell you about this plugin. Let me get the exact detail here. It’s Nap Hunter, N-A-P Hunter. And it’s an extension for Chrome, a plugin for Chrome. And what this does is you pull it up, you enter in your business name, your street address and your phone number, and you click this button. I’m looking at it here. It’s a blue button that says hunt. And what it does is it opens up a series of tabs in Chrome and it does these searches. So it’ll do a search for your business name and then it will do a search for your business name, plus your street address. And then it’ll do another search for your business name, plus your phone number and kind of mash all those combinations together. And from there, you have to go out there and manually look up those results and find all the places that you’re listed.
And you’re going to find, maybe you have an old address if you’ve moved. You might have some listings on your new address. You might have some listings under your old address. You might have, in some cases maybe Yelp or something, you’re listed twice, one at your new address, one at your old address. In a case where you might have duplicate listings with inconsistent information on the same platform, two on Yelp or two on MapQuest whatever, that presents a bit of a problem for you because Google doesn’t know necessarily which one is you are or which one to tag as yours, so they kind of cannibalize each other or dilute each other, or worst case scenario become irrelevant and not even counted. So you’re going to want to find all of your existing citations through an intensive search like this, again doing the combinations of your, your name, address, phone number, and pairing those together and see what all you can pop up.
And definitely when you get through the results, you’re going to want to go to the second, third and fourth page of Google too, not just the first page because sometimes these citations are out there and if the data is kind of messy, they’re going to be pushed further down the page because of those inconsistencies. You’re still going to want to find those. And now the tricky part is you have to compile some kind of spreadsheet or database of these for going forward. We want to find these that I need to audit. We want to clean them up and get them consistent, meaning get the same name, the same address and the same phone number and same website listed on all those. And I’m going to come back to that website in a second. If you’re a multi location business, this is synthetic. It’s overlooked a lot.
You’re going to want to clean up the name, address, phone number, and website on all of these, get it consistent, and then save this somewhere. Get a spreadsheet, save the links to these listings, put information, put notes, kind of keep a log because at some point in time, your business name might change, your address might change, your phone number, your website, things happen, right? And if you’ve been in business for more than a couple of years, you’ve probably made some changes in these areas. Down the road when you make those changes, you’re going to want to go back and do all these listings and update them. Otherwise, you’re kind of back to where you were in square one. Now you have inconsistent data. You’ve broken that chain of relevancy to Google, and they’re not going to see that you have 100 mentions online.
They’ll see that you only have 10 now, and that hurts you for SEO. Now let me roll back just a little bit there. If you’re a multi location business, you should be having location pages, right? So if you have, let’s just say five locations, you should have five different Google My Business profiles. Those should not all link back to the homepage of your website. You should have on your website a location page for each location. And that kind of acts as the homepage for that location. It’s got the address, the hours, maybe photos of your team, your interior, your exterior, things like that. Do the same thing on these citations. If you have more than one location, let’s just say on Yelp, if you’ve got the same five businesses listed, oftentimes we’ll find that that homepage is what’s linked to on those Yelp listings or these citations.
Same thing. If it’s going to an individual location, make sure that your location page is what you’re linking to from those citations because you want to drive the traffic and the relevancy to those location pages because that’s what you want ranked in Google when somebody searches for Red Balloons, Minneapolis, you don’t want them hitting your homepage. You want them hitting that Minneapolis page, and this consistency in the citations, this is extremely important to get credit for all of them. Your digital fingerprints are then kind of recognized by Google across the board. So you got to audit your citations. You’ve got to clean up your citations. And then you’re going to have to have some kind of a database or record keeping tool to kind of push them forward. Now, there are some services out there. Our business, Local SEO Tactics can surely help you out if you need any help in any of these stages of the process. Reach out to us. We can help you out for that. Not for free, by the way.
I mean, we’ll give you free advice or give you the link for some of these tools, but to do this for you, it’s pretty labor intensive, but we can definitely help you out. Also, want to mention two other big players that we’ve used ourselves and recommend that are great for this. One is White Spark, which is whitespark.ca. They’re a Canadian company. Excellent service. And the other one is Bright Local. You can find them at brightlocal.com and they do a great job too. There’s another service that a lot of people out there listening have probably used what’s called Yext, Y-E-X-T.com. And they will do this as well.
And they do an extremely powerful version of this. The problem with Yext, I’m not a big Yext fan in general. It has a place for everybody. I just don’t like it myself. They do a great job in cleaning up and auditing and doing all this for you. The problem with Yext is then you’re hooked into Yext, right? They don’t give you back a spreadsheet like, “Here you go. Here’s all of the links. Here’s how you log in. Here’s how you update your citation.” In the future, you do all that through your Yext dashboard let’s say, right? And so to kind of keep it going, you keep paying Yext for access to that. And this in my opinion at least is something you should pay for upfront kind of in a onetime for the audit and cleanup because that’s where the most of the labor is.
And after that, you really don’t need a whole lot of ongoing month to month maintenance on this because you’re not making these changes. So Yext is good and powerful for what it does. I just think it’s something that you don’t need to keep paying for going forward, and then you’re kind of locked in another portal. With Bright Local and White Spark and some other ones that are out there if you do some Google searching, it’s more of the, “Here’s your data, we turn it over to you. And if you need help in the future, let us know.”
Bob Brennan: It is something you should get good at. We don’t need to get good at oil changes. For most of us, it’s more effective just to take it somewhere, but we should have some understanding of how to change a tire and everything else that goes with it. So this is kind of the same thing. That’s why you’re kind of telling it right?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. As a business owner or somebody charged with the marketing, this is controlling your online profile, right? You’re in charge of your website, you’re in charge of your Google My Business, or at least knowledgeable if you’ve delegated it, you’re still knowledgeable and understand what’s happening. Same thing here. These are the other spots your business is listed online and people will find these, whether they use those platforms or they just find you online and you’re going to want to own this. Another element to a lot of these citation places are they are review portals like MapQuest or TripAdvisor. People get reviews on those. So you not only want to be aware of the citations for the purpose of NAP constancy here and keeping it all good like we’re talking, but also, those are places to A, get reviews or B, be aware of reviews.
Maybe you’ve got a one star review out there on MapQuest you’re not aware of. This is a good experiment for all you out there. Just do a Google search of your business name and location and see what pops up. You’re going to get your website, but you’re also going to find your Yelp, your MapQuest, these other citations places out there. And sometimes when we do this with customers, they’re surprised like, “Holy crap, I didn’t realize I’ve got three two star reviews on MapQuest. That looks horrible.” If somebody is doing a branded search, looking for my company that doesn’t represent very well, so just a little side note there. This also gives you the keys and the ownership of that kind of information going forward because you may want to do a little campaign to get some more reviews on MapQuest if that was your situation there.
So yeah. The audit, the clean up, and then the pushing forward of keeping your data consistent is something that’s going to do a lot of good for your company. Then, there’s one more tactic for finding these. We call them like niche citations. So what I just said right there is an audit and cleanup meaning of existing citations. If you’re not on MapQuest, you want to be on MapQuest, right? So this is kind of the last part is creating additional citations. More is better here for sure, even if it’s lower value. If you’ve got the time and the energy, do it. The more you can get mentioned in links out there for your website, that’s going to be good for you. The key here again is keeping it consistent, so it’s not just a listing in MapQuest, it’s a listing of your business.
And Google can now say, “Hey, there’s one more spot this company is listed in,” instead of you just being out there on an island listed in MapQuest without any relevancy back to your company. So the last part of it is how to find places to get citations. Now, if you use us or if you use White Spark or if you use Bright Local, that is part of the service. It’s not only to audit and clean up, but also submit you and create these citations.
If you’re doing this manually for yourself, what you’re going to want to do is there’s kind of two main strategies here that we use. One is if you have some pretty dominant competitors in your market, whether the market being an industry niche or a geographic market, do that same NAP Hunter type process on them. If you have 15 places you’re listed, Bob’s Plumbing, you do a quick search for their name, address, phone number combinations. You may find Bob’s listed in 100 spots. Write down or copy and paste those portals. If you weren’t aware of MapQuest before because it didn’t pop up on your radar, in your audit, but you see Bob’s Plumbing is on MapQuest, copy it on MapQuest. You’re going to want to get on MapQuest too because Bob was on that.
The other way you can do it is just look at plumber reviews or kind of whatever your industry is, do it by looking up the word reviews. And you’re going to find a lot of portals that allow you to create listings on those kind of in that same way. I usually find most of them using that kind of competitor strategy. And again, when I say competitor, we should take a pause here, not only competitor, but dominant competitor digitally. If you know somebody down the road has been your competitor for 20 years, that’s not so much what we’re talking about. We’re talking about when you do a Google search, who’s showing up. Yeah. That’s the competitors that we’re talking about right there. So Google your own products and services in your markets. Also, go to other major markets. If you’re in Omaha, Nebraska, no offense to anybody listening from Omaha, Chicago is bigger than you.
So it’s going to be a more competitive landscape. So using these same tactics to look up who’s dominant in Chicago for that industry, you’re probably going to find some citation service… not services, some citation listings that you can create there. If you do that, there’s one asterix, stay away from things that are like chicagolocal.com. You don’t want to be geographic centric when you’re not in that market. That’s really not going to help you. But looking at those large more national ones, it’s something that you can easily kind of vet out looking at other markets. And I guess we’ll add a 3A or a 3B I should say to that. Kind of do that opposite for locally here. You can use… in a previous episode, we talked about search operators for Google and you can do just like you can do a site colon search your domai
n, you can do a related and you can find what websites are out there related to your city, what are related to Minneapolis and things like that.
And again, just browse the results and look for places that are listing businesses and try to get your stuff listed on there as well. Citations are not the exact same thing as backlinks. We’ve talked about that anybody who’s looking at SEO knows how important backlinks are. Citations are not backlinks like an apples to apples. It’s apples to oranges in that most citations are going to give you a backlink, so on one hand, yeah they are backlinks, but they’re more powerful than that even, they’re actual listings for your business with that full name, address, phone number, website, and in a lot of cases, you’re actually getting the opportunity to put your business description and maybe even upload photos. So they’re kind of like backlinks plus, which is why any good SEO strategy is going to involve audit cleanup and creating of your citations. So hopefully, that makes sense to everybody out there and maybe shed some light onto your citations. If you’ve been doing it, hopefully you learned some tips on maybe how to find more or at the very least underscored the importance of constantly looking for more and getting out there.
Bob Brennan: How much time just would a business owner dedicate to this based on let’s say their annual sales? I don’t know if that would be a good measurement, but you know what I’m saying? I mean, if you’re a million dollar company, half a million quarter million whatever, any ideas how you would budget or allocate that?
Jesse Dolan: I guess I off the top of my head don’t know how to put that back into context on to sales, but just generically speaking, this is something that’s probably a good four to eight hours to do front to back and not just the audit and the cleanup, but also, finding more because again, this is extremely manual, these things that we’re talking about. You have to do searches. You’re copying and pasting, right? Some of these like Google My Business, you have to have a login. Some of these you have to verify your business, right? They’re going to either call you back at that phone number. Maybe send you an email at that email that you input or like Google My Business sends you a postcard to physically verify your spot. So depending on these portals and what currently isn’t set up, you’re going to invest some time in doing that.
Now, if you’re a one, two or $10 million business, my assumption that would be at multiple locations, things like that, and then you’re going to kind of multiply that out. So the bigger you are, maybe you’re having a little more time on this, but really any local business regardless of size is going to be spending at least four hours on this.
Bob Brennan: Upfront?
Jesse Dolan: Well, not like today. I would say kind of for the process overall to kind of get past that audit cleanup and kind of get it all compiled. On an annual basis, I would probably check this every six or 12 months, just kind of doing that NAP Hunter and just looking for some new citation sources because there’s new websites popping up all the time. There’s not a brand new Facebook every year kind of a deal, but there’s always some kind of new directories, some kind of new hot service. And the sooner you can get listed on that, the better like Alignable and Next Door are two of the ones in the last year have changed that have become kind of popular.
So this is something that you definitely want to keep aware of going forward. And again, I think that also underscores the value of White Spark or Bright Local or somebody like us to help you do these citations. It might run anywhere from two or $300 up to $1000 depending on who you are and the breadth of it and which service you’re picking here. But again, that’s money well spent. How many new customers or how many products or services do you have to sell to get that ROI over the course of the next six to 12 months? Hopefully, that’s something that would make sense for you.
And I would just again, reiterate the very last part is hold that data. Somebody needs to have a spreadsheet and kind of hold the keys to where you’re listed, how to log in and access these things. We run into these situations with clients a lot when we bring somebody new onboard is, “Who’s got the logins for these things,” and that can be pretty labor intensive and be a frustration point for a lot of people, just like your Google My Business, anything else. You’ve really got to kind of hold the keys to these things going forward and do yourself a big favor. All right. Let’s get into our five star review of the week here. We’ve got a five star review from Meg Brunson. Meg says, “Yes, a podcast every local business owner needs to listen to. I’m in the digital marketing space, but SEO is not my area of expertise. This podcast is helpful for me to further build up my own business and to help my clients with their own SEO. Great content. Easy to understand and actionable. Keep them coming.”
Thanks for the awesome review Meg. Everybody else out there, hopefully you feel the same way as Meg and if you do, we would love to hear from you too. Go to localseotactics.com, bottom left corner. You can read all the reviews. You can leave us a review, whatever your platform of choice is. Anybody who has traded emails with me, that’s reached out to us on the show, I ask you guys after we give you some value back like, “Hey, if this was cool, leave us a review.” And most of you do that without hesitation and are happy to.
Even if you haven’t been so moved with any direct engagement with us, if you’re listening to these shows, if we’ve helped you at all in your business, we’d ask you to return the favor. Go on out there, leave us a review, and we’ll be happy to read them as long as we keep getting them. So that does it. You have anything else Bob, you want to add to this episode here?
Bob Brennan: Nope. Citations are huge. Look, I mean, we all got into business to do whatever it is we’re experts at, right? That’s what we want to do as another distraction. Well, it’s a distraction, but it’s a critical one. That’s your Salesforce. I keep telling our team. Everything related to this is your Salesforce today. I mean, nothing wrong with salesmen and Salesforces. We need them, but this is the modern Salesforce.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. If you’re not listed where people are looking… Another one I forgot to mention was like Apple Maps, right? If you got an iPhone, if you have an iPhone and you use the built in navigation, like not the Google app version or there’s other ways like the built in navigation, that’s Apple Maps. If somebody does a search within Apple Maps and if you’re not in there, but if you’re not listed, you’re not going to be found. If you’re listed on 100 different websites, but your data is inconsistent, then you’re not listed on 100 websites, you’re only listed on the ones that are all consistent. So yeah.
This is a very important topic. We’ll probably do a follow up to expand deeper into some of these down the road. But again, I guess I’ll close with, if you need help, then check out those resources we talked about or drop us a line. We can either help push you towards one of those or take the job internally. This is a service we also provide too, so localseotactics.com and we are happy to help you out. Thanks for checking out this episode and we’ll see you next time.