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MARKETING

A Guide to Local Citation Building

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a guide to local citation building via juliaemccoy

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

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

(more…)

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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