Citations can make or break your local SEO campaign, and they’re deceptively tricky. If you want to hire people to help with your citations, how can you be confident they’ll do a good job?
I like Andrew Shotland’s post on what to ask a customer-review-management service before you hire one. In the same spirit, I thought I’d bring up some questions you should ask anyone you’re thinking of hiring for citations work.
By the way, I’m not even talking about what to ask some goofball on ELance or Fiverr. Don’t. I’m talking about what you should ask people who seem to be specialists in citations or who offer a broader local SEO service that you’re considering.
I suggest you ask these 8 questions (in no particular order):
“How much do you charge?”
If it works out to less than about $3 per citation, you may be paying for sloppy work, or for the work to be done by someone who doesn’t speak the language you do business in. If money is so tight that bottom-dollar actually sounds attractive, you’re better off working on your citations yourself. At the very least, ask them the rest of the questions and see what they tell you.
“Do you let me pick which citations I’d like?”
You probably won’t have to hand-pick all of the citations from scratch (although you can). But you will want to make sure that you see the list of citations before your builders work on them. If they plan to submit to 100 sites but you’ve only heard of 10 of them, most of the citations are probably junk. (This post can help you determine whether the citations are any good.)
“Will you keep track of my login info for each site and send it to me as soon as you’ve created my listings?”
If the answer to either part of this two-part question is no, find someone else to work on your citations. You need control of your listings long-term. You’re paying for those citations to be built, not rented to you.
“How do you plan on handling sites like ExpressUpdate.com, LocalEze.com, CitySearch, YellowPages, and Yelp?”
If you want to claim and fix your listings on those sites, you (the business owner) or an employee will have to verify ownership by phone. It’s quick and easy, but a third party can’t do it for you. The honest answer from your citation-builders is “We can’t do those sites for you.” The honest and helpful answer is “We can’t do those sites, but we can walk you through the verification processes, if you’d like.”
“Will you show me exactly which sites are all set versus need work and which of them require me to do something?”
You need to be able to see at a glance where each site stands, and if there are any lingering to-dos.
“Are you only ‘building’ citations, or can you also helping me claim and clean up existing citations?”
It’s OK if the answer to this is “Nope, all we do is build the citations.” You just need to know up-front so that you can either find someone who can work on your existing citations, or plan on doing it yourself.
“How do you plan on handling any listings that don’t ‘stick’?”
You’re fine as long as they give you some idea as to why a given site just doesn’t have your listing 100% correct.
“Do you research the citations that matter in my local market?”
Again, it’s OK if the answer is no. But it’s nice if – in addition to working on a “core” list of citations that are pretty much always important – your citation-builders try to find the citations that seem to matter most in your particular industry and in your city or region.
Update – “bonus” question: “How many citations do you plan to work on?”
See Nyagoslav Zhekov’s great comment, below.
Any other questions worth asking up-front? Any questions you wish you’d asked your citation-builders? Horror stories? Success stories – of citation-builders who did a good job for you? Leave me a comment!