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A Guide to Local Citation Building

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When was the last time you performed a local online search?

When you want to find a product or service in your area, do you dust off the ol’ phone book, or do you turn to your favorite search engine?

Think about it: Say you live in Seattle, and you need to take your dog to the groomer, make dinner plans with your friends, and check movie listings.

Oh, and you have got to take your coat to the dry cleaner.

Will you search for:

A) dog groomers
B) Mexican restaurants
C) movie listings
D) dry cleaners in Seattle Ballard

I hope you chose option D.

According to a Google consumer study, “4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.”

If you’re like 80% of the rest of the world, you’re probably looking for local information online, too.

A Guide to Local Citation Building

Turn the tables, now.

You’re a business owner – for this example, let’s say you own a dry cleaning business.

Your business has an address, a phone number, an email address, and even a blog where you share tips and tricks for taking better care of clothes. Go you!

You offer a valuable service that you know everyone needs. You’ve done some on-page optimization to help get your website discovered.

You’re doing everything right!

But for some reason, the customers are barely trickling in.

How can you fix that?

What are Local Citations?

Local citations are online mentions of your company – linked or unlinked – which include your business address, contact information, and in some cases, your website.

An example of this is a business listing on Yelp.

Take a moment to search “dry cleaners in Seattle Ballard,” and note the top organic result.

Spoiler: It’s probably Yelp.

A Guide to Local Citation Building

Citations can be incredibly beneficial to local businesses, particularly for local SEO.

Types of Citations

There are two types of citations: structured and unstructured.

Structured citations are like what you’d find in a local business directory. You have control over these citations. You can submit your business details, and update the information when necessary.

Some examples of structured citations can be found on:

  • Yelp
  • Yellowpages
  • Facebook
  • Maps (Google, Apple, MapQuest, etc.)
  • Foursquare

Here’s an example of a structured citation on Yelp:

A Guide to Local Citation Building

Unstructured citations are when your business information shows up on a site that’s not specifically a business directory. You can find unstructured citations on magazine or newspaper sites, blogs, social media, review sites, and the like.

Here’s an example of an unstructured citation on a local news site:

A Guide to Local Citation Building

3 Ways Local Citations Can Help with Link Building and Site Visibility

1. Improve Local SEO Rankings

Local citations have a massive impact on your local SEO efforts and on whether your company will show up in the SERPs.

Local SEO and citations help search engines verify your business’s information.

They’re two of the ways search engines keep tabs on your site’s authority and prominence, so the more often your company’s info appears online, the more prominent your site appears to search engines.

2. Increase Site Traffic

An improved local SEO ranking means increased visibility in local search results, and more visibility in search results means increased site traffic.

Even unlinked citations can drive traffic and improve local presence, but they also provide an opportunity for claiming new links and building your link portfolio.

3. Impact Customers

Local citations help your company establish trust with search engines and with customers.

If you have multiple websites, especially high-authority, trusted websites that are citing the same information about your business, it tells search engines and your customers that your site and your business can be trusted.

How to Build Local Citations

Whitespark

Whitespark’s curated list of citation sources by country is a great starting point.

Just work your way through their list to manually build your citations.

Whitespark also offers a helpful Local Citation Finder tool, which offers plans for every business — from Starter (free) to Enterprise ($80/mo).

A Guide to Local Citation Building

Data Aggregators

According to Advice Local, “data aggregators are data mining systems that spread business information online. They collect and share business data with a multitude of sources, including search engines like Google.”

In other words, data aggregators gather information on businesses and then feed that information to other sites.

Some popular data aggregators are:

  • Infogroup
  • Foursquare
  • Factual

Local Directories

Google’s consumer study says that “local searchers are ready to act. Many visit a nearby location within a day and complete purchases at a higher rate than consumers who conduct non-local searches.”

This is why it’s so important for you to get your business listed in local online directories.

Some directories will generate their listings based on information received from data aggregators.

Check your local directories to see if a listing already exists for your company, and make sure the information is accurate.

You can also submit new listings if one doesn’t yet exist for your business.

A Guide to Local Citation Building

Review Sites

Review sites can be valuable sources for citations. Check review sites for existing information on your company, and ensure that your business information is accurate, including the address, contact information, and website.

Customer reviews are a ranking factor that search engines take into account when examining for site authority.

Some examples of customer review sites are:

  • Influenster
  • ConsumerReports
  • Amazon

Social Media

Having a social media account for your business not only boosts customer engagement, but it also provides an opportunity for citations. Former Googler Matt Cutts said:

“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index, and so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results.”

So get a couple of social media accounts set up for your business, and make sure your address, phone number, email address, and website are correct.

Staying Consistent

Keep important information consistent across citations. Make sure your listings have the correct business name, contact information, and website.

However, keep in mind that small differences here and there are nothing to fuss over. For example, search engines will recognize “Search Engine Journal” and “search engine journal” as the same name.

As Whitespark states it, “put a little trust in the algorithm.”

Develop Your Local Citation Profile

Still not convinced?

Consider this: Google’s consumer study found that 18% of local smartphone searches led to a purchase within one day. One day!

Developing a strong citation profile for your business is one of the most practical and cost-effective ways to optimize your local SEO.

Implement citation building as a part of your digital marketing strategy.

Summary

Timeframe: Month 1-3

Results detected: 4-12 months

Avg citations per month: 6

Tools:

  • Struction Citation Sources
  • Unstructured Citation Sources
  • Whitespark
  • Data Aggregators
  • Local Directories
  • Review Sites
  • Social Media Accounts

Benefits of local citations:

  • Improve local SEO rankings.
  • Increase site traffic.
  • Impact customers and establish trust.
  • Cost-effective.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by author

Searchenginejournal.com

MARKETING

State of Content Marketing in 2023

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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MARKETING

27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

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Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

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MARKETING

MarTech’s marketing operations experts to follow

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MarTech's marketing operations experts to follow

Marketing operations is what makes the magic happen. These are the folks who see that your martech stack doesn’t get stuck. They are the maestros, modelers and makers who make sure the trains run, the data is digestible and that you have the programs you need. Where would we be without them? That’s too scary to think about. Here’s our list of MOps experts who have the ear of the profession.

Darrell Alfonso

Darrell is director of marketing strategy & operations at Indeed and the former global marketing ops leader for AWS. He’s the author of “The Martech Handbook: Build a Technology Stack to Acquire and Retain Customers.” In addition to speaking at many conferences, Darrell was named one of the Top Marketers in the US by Propolis 2022 and among the “Top Martech Marketers to Follow” in 2020 by Martech Alliance. He’s a regular and popular contributor both to MarTech and the MarTech conference; you can find all of his articles at this link.


Eddie Reynolds

Eddie has been in business a long time, starting his first company when he was 14. “A pretty minimal enterprise,” he told one interviewer. “I had a tax ID number, a legal entity, and a company name. I even had the IRS coming after my dad for sales tax that I failed to report properly.” Today he is CEO and revenue operations strategy consultant of Union Square Consulting. He publishes The RevOps Weekly Newsletter and the podcast RevOps Corner. Eddie’s large LinkedIn following attests to the quality of the insights he shares there on  sales, marketing, service, and admin roles. 


Sara McNamara

Sara is an award-winning marketing and sales operations professional whose work has been recognized by awards from the likes of Salesforce (Pardot), Adobe (Marketo), Drift, and LeanData. She is a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Slack and a martech stack (+ strategy) solution architect. That and her passion for leveraging technology and processes to improve the experiences of marketers, sales professionals, and prospects, explains why she’s a regular guest on MOps podcasts.


Ali Schwanke

Ali is the CEO and founder of Simple Strat. The firm specializes in helping companies get the most out of HubSpot — from CRM strategy and setup to marketing automation and content creation. She is also host of HubSpot Hacks, “the #1 Unofficial YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials” and has been a guest speaker at the MarTech conference.


Mike Rizzo

Mike’s career in marketing operations showed him that there is a real and significant MOps community. That’s why he founded MO Pros/MarketingOps.com, the fast-growing online community for people in marketing operations. He is also co-host of Ops Cast, a weekly podcast. 


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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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