Local Citation Audit Tip: Use the New Sitelinks Search Box

One benefit of Google’s new sitelinks search box: it can help you save time on finding messy local citations.

See what I mean?

Just type in the name of the site and search for your listing(s) from within Google’s results.  It’s the equivalent of doing a site:yoursite.com search.  (For more on what exactly you should do in a citation audit, read Casey Meraz’s dynamite post.)

Like my BBB tip, it’s just a potential time-saver.  As Nyagoslav pointed out when I mentioned this to him, this won’t uncover all the listings you might need to find on a given site.  No single method can, and some listings don’t even get indexed.

Not every local-business directory site you need to check has the sitelinks search box (yet?), though.  The main data-aggregators – ExpressUpdate, LocalEze, Acxiom – don’t have it.  So those sites are still a PITA, and you’ll still have to go to those sites to check your listings.

Still, most of the big sites - like Yelp, CitySearch, and YP – already have the sitelinks search box.  So do at least some of the bigger industry-specific sites, like HealthGrades and Avvo.

I expect the sitelinks search box will get even handier over time, as more sites latch onto it.  Unless Google does with it what it often does with features that have lots of potential.

Know of any sitelinks search box hacks for auditing citations?  Do you find it easier?  Leave a comment!

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How Long Can a Google+ Review Stay Filtered? At Least 2 Years

I’m a jerk.

Someone wrote a nice Google+ review on my business page in 2012, and I didn’t thank him until today.

‘Course, it would have helped if I knew about the review.  It had been filtered for over 2 years.  It wasn’t there a week ago.  I saw it for the first time only a few hours ago.  (And I only stumbled across it when doing some research for my State of Search talk.)

To add insult to injury, the review was from no less than David Mihm.

Why was it filtered?

My theory is that David’s review fell victim to Google’s Great Review Purge of 2012.  As you may recall, Google was filtering reviews left and right.  For a time, they were out-Yelping Yelp.

Google eventually relaxed the filter, at the beginning of 2013.  Many reviewers that had been filtered came back to life, and new, post-2012 reviews weren’t filtered nearly as often.  Good news, for the most part.

Turns out that was only the beginning of the 180-flip.  Throughout 2013 Google pushed customers to leave reviews and pushed business owners to ask for them.  This past July, Google even OK’d pseudonyms.

The other reviews people kindly posted on my page – the ones that seemed to stick initially – were all written after 2012.  So that fits with my theory.

What surprised me is just how bad Google was at playing God with reviews.

Even 2 years ago, David had written 40+ reviews, over a period of 4-5 years.  Not a newbie reviewer by any means.

Plus, all the reviews on my page were written spontaneously.  As much as I appreciate the kind words, I’ve never asked anyone to review me on Google.

Why did the review only show up now?

That’s what puzzles me.  Google’s filters loosened over 20 months ago, at which time many reviews came back to life (indeed, they never really go away).

True, some reviews never seem come back, but usually those are the real stinkers (and even many of those stay up).  Why didn’t this review come back?

It can’t be that my page had to get a certain number of reviews for all the oldies but goodies to return: More than 6 months passed between when my most-recent review was written and when David’s got unfiltered.

Nothing else happened recently in terms of Local Visibility System reviews, except for the very nice Yelp review I got a few weeks ago.

So I’m stumped, unless there’s such a thing as a 27 Club for reviews.

Any theories?

Have you noticed old reviews resurface recently?

For that matter, have you noticed anything odd with Google+ reviews lately?

Leave a comment!

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Apple Maps Local Business Category List

Apple has finally given business owners (and SEOs) a self-serve way to add or edit listings on Apple Maps.  You can do it at MapsConnect.Apple.com. For over two years there have only been workarounds that don’t always work.  So the recent news was good news. But you’ll still have to make sure your listing has the right categories […]

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Ultimate List of Review Widgets and Badges for Your Local Business Website

What good are your reviews if nobody sees them? Whenever possible, you should show them off on your site by using a review “widget” or badge.  Many review sites offer them for the taking. But review widgets and badges are more than flashy “trust” symbols.  They can also: Encourage any current / past customers who […]

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Mining Your Online Reviews: 25 Nuggets You Can Use to Get More Local Customers

A good review means it’s Miller Time and a bad review is just a black eye – right? No.  You’ve got a little more work to do.  The better you understand your reviews, the better you understand your customers and your business.  That’s how you’ll attract more of the types of customers you want. Sounds […]

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You Can Incentivize Google Plus Reviews…Just Not in the Way You’d Think

It’s bad form to offer customers hard incentives to write you reviews.  That includes money, products, work, massages, Starbucks cards, Chuck-E-Cheese tokens, or anything else of tangible value. On Google Plus it’s also against the rules.  For once, Google’s review policies are relatively clear: Conflict of interest: Reviews are most valuable when they are honest […]

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Who Stretched Google’s Map?

Here’s a question that’s relevant to my post from last week on competitive-intel: Which of your local-search competitors is most worth learning from? One obvious answer would be, “Whoever’s #1, Sherlock.” A lot of times I’d agree that – all other things being equal – you should probably pay more attention to the King of […]

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When Can Digging for Competitive Intel Help Your Local SEO?

People often ask me what kinds of competitive fact-finding I think can help their local SEO efforts.  My answer usually is, “Not what you’d think.” The theory is solid enough: you want to know why your competitors outrank you in the local results, so you try to find out everything you can about them.  Knowledge […]

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What’s Missing from the Google Places Quality Guidelines?

The rules governing Google Places (or “Google My Business”) have never quite done their job.  They’re thick, short on examples, and wide open to (mis)interpretation. The Google Places Quality Guidelines doc doesn’t even contain all the rules you need to follow.  Between the scattered letters of the law, gray areas abound. It’s harder than it […]

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Hijacking Google’s Local Knowledge Graph

I was just going about my business, monkeying around in the local results.  Then something caught my eye: Given that Google just started testing green review stars, I could only draw 2 conclusions: 1.  Google must think it’s St. Patrick’s Day, OR 2.  I just stumbled across a crafty business owner. Looks like it’s the latter.  Here’s what […]

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