A recent conversation with my LocalSpark amigos Darren and Nyagoslav got me to thinking:
Yes, there are dozens of things to remember do when working on your citations. I offered 43 bits of advice in my giant post on citations from a year ago.
But you don’t want all the details – major and minor – to get in the way of one crucial step. It’s perhaps the only practice that makes building or fixing your citations less daunting, and more likely to get completed.
Do at least one follow-up round of work on your citations.
Do it 30-90 days after the first occasion you work on them.
Better yet: do a third round of work a month or two after the second.
That’s it. If you’re no stranger to citations, you probably know what follow-up work would involve. But if you’d like a little more explanation, just read on.
Why do follow-up work on citations?
- Because some of your listings or edits probably didn’t stick after the first attempt.
- Because the remaining listings are probably on the tougher sites, which usually also means they’re the listings that Google really trusts.
- Because you probably can (and always should) fill out more info on your current listings – like any fields labeled “Services,” “Description,” “Keywords,” and especially your categories.
- Because you may stumble across more sites where you should list your business.
What to do, exactly?
You’re doing 5 main things:
1. You’re checking the sites you’ve already submitted to, to make sure they published your info correctly. To the extent they haven’t, you’re resubmitting your edits, or trying again to claim your listing, or whatever the situation seems to dictate.
2. You’re checking on any listings that you tried to remove before, to make sure they’ve actually been removed. If they haven’t been removed, make your request again. You may also need to see where those sites are getting their (mis)information in the first place – if there’s an “upstream” problem.
3. You’re bulking up any citations that only have your basic info. Again, you’ll want to fill out as many fields as possible – especially the ones where you have the chance to describe your services in more detail. Until very recently, Google would scrape those fields and put the relevant services MapMaker custom categories. It’s likely they still use that info in some way.
4. You’re taking another pass at finding more citation sources.
Fine, but how do you fix up the citations?
Read this superb post by Casey Meraz.
Which sites most need double-checking?
Yelp, YellowPages, ExpressUpdate, and Acxiom – for starters. In my experience, those are the most stubborn sites.
Why doesn’t everyone do follow-up work?
Because it’s extra work.
Even if people know that there’s still work to be done, it’s never a priority. If the rankings are bad and it’s because of messy citations, it’ll usually take months for the fixes to count for anything. And disheveled citations sure as heck aren’t a priority when rankings and spirits are high.
Also, most citation “builders” won’t bother, because it’s easier to bill you for the first several-dozen easy sites than for the 5-10 toughies. (Sure, the tough sites usually require owner-verification, but someone’s at least got to tell that to the business owner.)
It’s part of a bigger strategy
Local SEO usually takes time – months – to bear fruit. You need to start working on it before you’re starving for visibility and phone calls. As I’ve written, the slower you can take it, the better.
If you try to get all your citations perfect in a sitting or even within a week, you’ll probably end up frustrated. But if you revisit them every now and then as part of your long-term push, they’ll get as close to “done” as you can get.
The nice thing is that the more rounds of work you put into your citations, usually the less there is to do each time.
What’s your #1 tip on citations?
Leave a comment!
bill bean says
The follow up is a must and your timeline is spot on, though I’m sure we’ve all seen some listing problems that drag on for longer than 90 days. It’s a challenge to get clients to understand the need for this. It affects the scope of work (ie cost and time) for sure. Also important from our perspective to get this follow up work on your calendar. If you don’t factor it in, you’re going to have some weeks where there’s more to do than time to do it in.
Good call, Bill. I agree: even after 90 days there are usually still some stragglers. But at least they’re much fewer and farther-between if you’ve done that 2nd round of work.
Mark Elia says
Great advice Phil! It’s the simple, little things that matter.
James Blackburn says
My favorite is when a client explains to you a week after doing citations that their address has now changed 🙁
Kathleen Rhodes says
Or that they decided to change the name of their business 🙂
Oh boy. That’s my favorite, too 🙂
Susan Staupe says
Phil – you are spot on – i have to say my biggest frustration is trying to re-claim a profile that has been claimed by a 3rd party previously. Act of congress . . .thanks another great post!
Thanks a bunch, Susan!
Susan Staupe says
oh and tracking numbers. Booooo.
Colan Nielsen says
This is a great post Phil. As you have mentioned before, citation building after a certain point has diminishing returns, so focus on ensuring that the ones you are already listed on are in fact Suped Up.
Another reason to do another round is because directory sites are always changing or adding features like the ability to add links to social sites.
Great points, Colan.
Good information! I’m just started round two after moving our business 6 weeks ago.
#1 frustration…claiming a listing to edit the business information then finding out the contact information isn’t completely editable. For instance, one directory allowed me to change the address but not the zip code! So new address with old zip. Another let me change all of the information except the city name, so same deal, correct street address and zip code, wrong town.
Then there are those directories with no way to claim the listing to fix the address and no way to contact the site owner to have the listing removed. Or sites like Merchant Circle that offer a duplicate listing form to fill out but it is broken. Then when you email for help you get a canned reply that gives you a link to the broken form.
I know how you feel, Sue. It can be a never-ending battle.
Kreg Atterberry says
We look for sites that allow us to keep the content fresh and update them on a regular basis. Sites that have blogs like Merchant Circle or sites that make it easy to post a quick update like Thumbtack, Hotfrog or Manta. Many blog posts we have placed on Merchant Circle have made first page of Google in under 500K markets. We also like sites that allow us to regularly update images. These can be photo sharing sites like Flickr, or social media sites like Pinterest, or a combination of directory and social media like Houzz. Keeping content fresh applies to citations as well as your own website.
Interesting strategy. I haven’t really used things like MerchantCircle posts.
Rob Scutti says
I like using MC blog offering to add more content for my clients. It’s like a secondary or back-up blog that is associated with the client’s website blog. It can’t be a duplicate, but it can be on the same topic. Check it out under the publish tab.
I can see that. Thanks, Rob.
scott masse says
Phil great tips on the follow up to the citation building, I was not aware of that!
Great info as always, Phil.
I’ve been frustrated with several citation sites lately. Stuff doesn’t work as it should (claim button goes nowhere), client site doesn’t show up in search after being claimed/verified (Dex Knows), and more random fun stuff that robs me of valuable time.
My new strategy…I follow the citation companies on Twitter…and I tweet my specific issue/frustration to them. That gets a response with a customer service number or an invitation to DM with them, and in the case of Dex, I got a real live, friendly human being who took my issue to his boss and somehow waved the magic wand so my chiropractor’s listing would show in for a local search for chiropractors, instead of carpet cleaning companies. Imagine that! I also have his number on speed dial, and my own personal Dex business dashboard in which I can manage all my clients’ Dex listings.
Citations are a real pain in the back side – thanks for continuing to bring the good stuff to make them slightly less painful for us.
bill bean says
Great idea, Kristen. Would you mind sharing your list?
If by list, you mean those I follow on Twitter, it’s these, so far:
Good thinking, Kristen! Thanks for sharing.
Rob Scutti says
Nice tip! Nothing like a little daylight to get folks hopping.
Jason Stovall says
Great post again. Doing exactly that for a client of ours, true it is extra work!
We did the work three years ago, so it was high time to do a makeover! …..
Thanks, Jason. Yeah, after 3 years you’ve probably got your hands full.
Perfect information as always Phil and thanks too for the enlightening comments. My favourite is to include a link back to one of the web pages in the copy – so doubling the good quality backlinks from each citation. Same when making any posts…
I’d definitely use a light touch on any links that aren’t in the standard “Your Website URL” field.
Jason Stovall says
@Kristen,…Speed dial! … I’m impressed to say the least.
OMW!…thanks for the pointer to follow citation companies on Twitter, that’ll help resolve some of the issues….why didn’t I think of that before/ 🙂
Bob Czubiak says
My nightmare is when I find out that one of my dental practices I retain had moved 3 times in 10 years. Talk about citation clean-up! Then there are those citation sites that have the same phone number as your client with a different business name. You can’t find any links on the directory site to be able to edit the listing and no way to contact the site owner. My favorite is when you click on the “improve this listing” link and get a 404 error.
That’s a tough situation for sure, Bob. FWIW, I’ve found that most of the sites where it’s impossible or near-impossible to fix your info generally aren’t worth the bother. The influential sites that Google trusts try to keep their data fresh, and to do that they at least have to throw you a bone.
Joshua Rodriguez says
Awesome post Phil. I love the follow up breakdown. We’ve done this for all of our clients for quite some time now. It’s so interesting to see how much changes over the course of two or three months as bulk data providers feed in what they have and kick out what you did. Great post again, thanks!
It still boggles my mind that you can claim a listing and verify it, yet some online directories will over ride the info you enter because they think there is more authoritative information on the web. Yes, sometimes listings get hijacked, but a lot of that responsibility falls on how intensive and secure the website claiming and verification process is. If a site has a thorough verification process then the information entered by the business owner should take precedence, particularly if it has been entered within the past 6 months.
I’m with you, Jason.