People who know enough about local SEO to be dangerous don’t think twice about paying some poor soul to create 200 listings on glitzy big-name local-business directories like GoPickle, MyHuckleberry, and Sphinxaur.
They heard about these things called citations.
They heard citations matter to your local visibility.
They did basic work on 20-30 important listings, saw a little boost in visibility, and figured they’d squirt out 200 citations and really show ‘em.
It must seem puzzling when all those hours of work amount to nothing more than a monster spreadsheet of listings on local directories that nobody’s ever visited except to create a free listing.
But let’s say you want to wring the maximum benefit from citations, without going past the point of diminishing return. Having more listings on generic sites isn’t better. Having listings on relevant sites is better. In other words, you want niche local citations for your business.
What’s a “niche” local citation?
By that, I mean you’ve got your business’s name, address, phone number, and (usually) website listed on a site that’s either (1) focused on your industry or (2) focused on your city or local area, or both.
Examples of industry-specific citation sources include HealthGrades, Avvo, TripAdvisor, and DealerRater – but those are only the big names. There’s also at least one local-business directory for pretty much any field you can think of. Local newspapers, local Chambers of Commerce, downtown business associations, and local directories for a specific city/town are the kinds of “local” niche citation sources I’m talking about.
Anyway, local SEOs don’t talk about niche citations enough. I’ve got a few theories as to why that is:
- It takes research to find niche citation opportunities, and every client’s situation is a little different. That’s more work than using the exact-same list for every single client.
- You may need to know something about the client’s industry – or learn more about it – to find places worth being listed on.
- There aren’t as many niche citation opportunities as there are general local directories. You can’t promise to build 100+ listings, because there are probably about 10 good ones, and even fewer if the business itself is in a specialized field.
- Some niche listings are paid. Those are harder to justify baking into your pricing, or to browbeat your client into paying for.
- SEOs can’t spout the “This directory has a monthly reach of 7 million!” nonsense when they try to explain the value of their work. You get a good niche citation on a site with relatively fewer users, but more of them are users and not stumblers.
- It may never even occur to some SEOs to do anything beyond what other SEOs talk about. It often becomes a color-by-numbers deal.
- SEOs would have to explain the value of niche citations more than they would, say, an impressive-sounding but fluffed-up list of 100-200 sites.
Why you shouldn’t overlook niche local citations
Simply being listed on a niche site may help your local rankings to a degree, but how much it helps is anyone’s guess. Rather, I’d say the main benefits of getting niche citations are:
- They tend to rank well in Google for specific search terms – as opposed to terms that tire-kickers and other not-yet-serious customers might type in.
- They’re more likely to be places where you can get reviews.
- They’re more likely to offer a “follow” link (i.e. one that Google “counts”), especially if they are paid directories. (No, links from those sites won’t land you in Google’s doghouse, if they’re relevant to your field and if they’re not your only way to get links.)
- There’s a better chance they’ll yield an additional trickle of leads, to the extent the sites cater to a specific audience.
How can you find good niche citations?
Brightlocal’s Best Niche Citation Sites for 41 Business Categories
My list of citation sources (by the way, I need to prune this list)
Also, you can always just type in some of the search terms you’re trying to rank for, see what sites come up on the first couple pages of search results, and see how many of those sites you can list yourself on.
Are there any benefits of niche citations I forgot to mention?
Do you find them using different methods?
Leave a comment!