Best Search Operators for Digging up Duplicate Local Citations

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rocketlass/42689311

To claim your seat at the Local Feast, your citations need to be more or less correct.  But you can’t fix those listings if you can’t find them.

Tools are unreliable.  Even the excellent Moz Local should just be a first sweep in your search for all the listings you need to fix.

Meanwhile, searching in the sites can be slow going.  You usually have to search several times to see find all the listings you want to find.

Let Google help you.  Use search operators to dig up duplicates faster.

Search operators won’t work on every site you need to deal with (more detail on this in a minute).  But they’ll save you time and frustration – partly because they do work on many of the packrat sites where the duplicate listings pile up.

Here are the best search operators I know of for uncovering duplicate listings:

 

Google

site:plus.google.com name of business “about”

site:plus.google.com (###) ###-#### “about”

You’ll probably find any Google Places duplicates with Michael Cottam’s duplicate-finder tool, but it’s worth popping in those two operators just to be sure.

(Yes, I know we don’t call Google Places a “local citation” source, as the title of the post would suggest, but that was the first title that popped into my head.)

 

Yelp

site:yelp.com/biz name of business

Hat tip to Nyagoslav for the Yelp operator, which he mentioned in a discussion on Google+.

 

Facebook

site:facebook.com (###) ###-####

site:facebook.com (###) ###-#### “reviews” -m. -m2

Try the 2nd one if the 1st one gives you more results than you’d like to sift through.  (That might happen if your business name isn’t too unusual.)

 

YellowPages

site:yellowpages.com (###) ###-#### intitle:”business name

site:yellowpages.com intitle:”business nametwo-letter state abbreviation

CitySearch

site:citysearch.com “name of business” two-letter state abbreviation

site:citysearch.com intitle:”name of businesstwo-letter state abbreviation

As with Facebook, try the 2nd one if the 1st one returns too many results.  Also, for the 2nd one you may want to try a couple common variations of the business name.

SuperPages

site:superpages.com (###) ###-####  intitle:”business name

Better Business Bureau

site:bbb.org (###) ###-#### “business review in” two-letter state abbreviation

site:bbb.org name of business “business review in”

Angie’s List

site:angieslist.com (###) ###-####

 

A few notes

  1. Swap out only the underlined parts with your business info or your client’s.
  1. Keep the quotation marks exactly where they are.
  1. By “two-letter state abbreviation” I mean “MA” for Massachusetts, “NY, for New York, and so on. Hope that was obvious, but it’s an important point.  Without the state name you may unearth a bunch of listings for your namesake business 2 time zones away.

Where search operators don’t (seem to) work

https://www.flickr.com/photos/compujeramey/80010576

Remember how I mentioned search operators don’t work on all the sites that you’ll need to deal with?  Well, here are the bad kids:

Apple Maps

Bing Places

ExpressUpdate.com

Factual

FourSquare

LocalEze

MyBusinessListingManager.com (Acxiom)

Some of those sites (like Bing and LocalEze) appear not to let Google index their listings.  Listings on other sites (like Factual) seem to be indexed, but impossible to find with search operators.  At least you now have a short list of sites you know you’ll have to stick a whole arm into.

Also, those search operators will work on many other sites where you can and possibly should have citations.  I listed only the most-important sites, because you may have other things you’d like to accomplish today.  But you can check out my list of citations if you’d like to use search operators to sniff out duplicates on other sites.

By the way, here’s my bread-and-butter search operator, which works pretty reliably from site to site:

site:nameoflocaldirectory.com (###) ###-####

(Of course, you’ll want to try it with every phone number that the business has used.)

 

More resources

Google Search Operators – Google Guide

NAP Hunter Lite – Local SEO Guide

Top Local Citation Sources by Country – Nyagoslav Zhekov

Advanced Local Citation Audit & Clean Up: Achieve Consistent Data & Higher Rankings – Casey Meraz

Local Citation Audit Tip: Use the New Sitelinks Search Box – me

Local Citation Cleanup Hack: Check BBB – me

Do you know of any reliable search operators I didn’t mention?  (I’d love to keep adding to the list.)

Any hacks for quickly finding listings on those tough sites (e.g. ExpressUpdate)?

Leave a comment!

Hauling in More Local Customers…Even When Your Wheels Are Spinning

That’s the name of the talk I gave at MN Search yesterday.  I covered 25 quick wins for attracting more local customers when you don’t know what to do next.  Some of my suggestions are for local rankings, some for PPC, some for review strategy, and more.

Here’s my slide deck:

Thanks to Scott Dodge, Susan Staupe, Aaron Weiche, and everyone at MN Search for an incredible event.  And thanks to Spyder Trap for hosting it.

Especially if you’re in the area, GO to their next event.  You’ll learn plenty, and get to know some great people.

How to Use Wildcard Searches for Local Keyword-Research: Lightning Round with Mary Bowling

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tekkebln/6985618535

Two little characters – the asterisk ( * ) and the underscore ( _ ) can help your keyword-research. Simply add them to various search terms you type into Google when researching keywords, and autocomplete might spit out phrases you wouldn’t have seen or thought of otherwise. (More on this in a second.)

Mary Bowling wowed a lot of people (and created some buzz) at the inaugural LocalUp event in Seattle when she revealed that you can use wildcard searches to dig deep for “local” keyword ideas.

I asked Mary a few questions about how business owners (and SEOs) can use wildcard searches to research keywords.

Phil:  How did you stumble on the idea of using wildcard searches in Google Suggest?

Mary:  I learned that from a webinar by Larry Kim and Will Critchlow

Phil:  Keyword-research in local SEO is pretty simple: you usually know the main search terms you can and should rank for.  What problem(s) do wildcard searches help solve?

Mary:  Using suggest with or without wildcards, along with Google related gives you more long tail ideas than most of us could ever use in building out your keyword themes, blogging, creating meaningful internal links and optimizing media

Phil:  Besides keyword-intel, what should business owners and local SEOs try to dig up with wildcard searches?

Mary:  I’d try wildcard variations of my brand name to learn if there’s anyone talking about me and what people may be searching for in association with my brand name.

Phil:  Would you say wildcards are most useful for coming up with content / page-targeting ideas?

Mary:  Yes and mostly longer tail ideas.

Phil:  How much wildcard research do you do for a client?  Where’s the usual point of diminishing return?

Mary:  Not much. It’s strictly for long tail ideas.

Phil:  If I don’t wrap quote marks (“”) around the entire query, Google seems to ignore the wildcard and I don’t see helpful autocomplete suggestion.  Is it just me?

Mary:  Using the wildcard with suggest can be a bit wonky, so don’t assume it isn’t working if you don’t see what you expect the first time. Here’s an example where I didn’t get the wildcard suggestions until I typed out the query without the wildcard and then went back and put it in. Other times I’ve had to put a space before or after the wildcard to get the desired results.

Phil:  Do you have a favorite wildcard “recipe”?

Mary:  I like to look for fat head category terms and the location in different variations, like these:

Using wildcard search for the brand name and the names of the public-facing people at the business may give you some ideas for new content, too.

Phil:  What are some of your favorite gold nuggets from LocalUp?

Mary:  Rand did a great presentation on local businesses that dominate their niche and some of the things they have in common.  National media exposure is the one I think may have the most impact on rankings.

Thanks to Mary for the insights.  Her presentation is full of other gems, and I suggest you check it out.

Go see Mary speak as soon as you can, or consider hiring her if you need an expert in your corner.  No matter what, you’ll want to follow her on Twitter.

How much have you used wildcard searches?

Any tips you’d like to share?

Questions?

Leave a comment!