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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.”

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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?

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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.

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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:

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  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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

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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

Getting started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Aligning on a Guidepoint

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Getting started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Aligning on a Guidepoint

We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers. We also held a Zoom meeting to discuss the Navigator with members of the agile marketing community.

The Navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. Over the next several weeks, we’ll dive into each piece and give you practical, actionable ways to use them at your company.

The collaborative planning workshop

To begin with, we’ll start at the top with the Collaborative Planning Workshop. The Collaborative Planning Workshop brings alignment to what the team is trying to achieve and empowers marketers to focus on customer value and business outcomes over activity and outputs. This session should happen quarterly or at the start of any large campaign or initiative.

Where most agile frameworks begin with the backlog of work for the team, we found it very important to start at a higher level and ensure alignment is happening between the agile marketing team and the key stakeholders asking for work from the team. 

One of the biggest challenges we’re addressing with the Collaborative Planning Workshop is the disconnect between the stakeholders who ask for work and the team on the hook for delivery. Way too often, the people setting the marketing strategy and the designers, copywriters, social media specialists and others don’t have a seat at the adult table. Work comes to them in the form of the creative brief via an electronic system, but there’s no conversation. They aren’t being treated like marketers but rather as producers of output. 

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The Collaborative Planning Workshop is just what it says—a collaborative conversation where everyone is on an equal playing field and striving towards successful outcomes.


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The Guidepoint

This framework begins with everyone understanding the actual business reasons for success and alignment on a Guidepoint. Here’s how we define the Guidepoint in the Agile Marketing Navigator:

“The Guidepoint helps the team and stakeholders navigate what success looks like for an upcoming campaign or project. Stakeholders come to the workshop with a business goal for the organization. During the workshop, the group comes up with a short written description, called a Guidepoint, of what success looks like for this marketing initiative and how it aligns to the organization’s goals.”

The Guidepoint is the connective tissue that rolls upward and downward in the organization. It’s often the forgotten middle layer between what the stakeholder is on the hook for and the tactics executed by the marketing team to achieve success.

The Guidepoint aligns the agile marketing team and stakeholders on a shared purpose and creates a focus on the team’s outcomes. It also helps with prioritization, so work that’s not aligned gets a lower priority or isn’t done at all.

Read next: Freeing agile marketing from its software development roots

Here are a few example scenarios to get you started:

Industry: Healthcare

Business Goal: Acquire an additional 5,000 new patients during the first year after the grand opening of our new hospital.

Guidepoint: Create a campaign targeting elective surgery candidates that generates 1,500 leads that ultimately generate a higher than average conversion rate than the industry average.

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Industry: Retail

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Business Goal: Increase cart checkout dollar amounts by 10 percent over last year.

Guidepoint: Launch a campaign targeting suggestive add-on purchases, moving the average cart checkout price to $50.

Industry: Financial Services

Business Goal: Generate a 25% increase in our personal finance app downloads in 2022.

Guidepoint: Generate an average of 50 new downloads apps with an activation rate of 25%.

Ideally, you have an agile marketing team formed with a straight line to a stakeholder and business goals that need to be achieved, which makes it pretty easy to focus on a single Guidepoint at a time. 

However, many marketing teams haven’t streamlined this way and must support multiple lines of business at once. In those cases, we suggest no more than three Guidepoints at once for the team, or they’ll quickly lose focus. If this becomes problematic, the marketing owner on the team will need to work with key leaders to determine the most important business goals for the organization and prioritize them accordingly. Some teams have had great success determining percentages of time each stakeholder gets based on the business value of their line of business.

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We can only succeed for a clear, focused outlook on what success looks like for the marketing team and the organization as a whole.


Many marketers struggle to apply agile marketing in a way that adds value to team members. Learn how to break that pattern in this free e-book, “MarTech’s Guide to agile marketing for teams”.

Click here to download!



Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”

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