Citations are the holy grail when it comes to ranking in Google Maps and getting to the top 3 local snack pack.
However, most people go about doing it in a random manner. In this post I will try and list out a structured method to go about building citations – weather you plan to do it in-house or outsource it, its essential that you understand the citations ecosystem and the strategy behind doing this correctly for your SEO clients or inhouse projects.
Before I get started, (if you’re not aware) you need to know that…
Local Maps SEO is completely different than Organic Search SEO
The algorithm that is responsible for ranking business listings on Google Maps is different than that which is used for the Organic Search results. Two different algorithms are running for each of them. Ranking in one does not assure you of ranking in the other!
Also, the Google Maps results block only shows up when the algorithm thinks the search has local intent and the user is looking for a business result for local based intention.
With that said, lets get started…
What is a Citation?
A citation is basically any webpage on which three things about your business appears. These three things are abbreviated and referred to as NAP.
- Phone Number
This data (when it appears together and consistently across many sites) – confirms to Google that your business is real because it is being listed in different places online. This passes down ranking power for your business on Google Maps.
You need to make sure that your NAP data is consistent across all your listings on these websites. For example, “Street” vs “St.” in the address. Try and stick to one version on all your submissions. Eventhough Google made an update to their local algorithm to treat these both as one and the same – I would still advice you to be consistent, even to the level of having commas in the same place throughout your submissions.
Your master address (the one that you refer to for submissions) – is the address on your Google My Business page. That address has been verified by Google (postcard verification if needed) and so it uses that as the original reference, and so should you!
There is two kinds of NAP submissions you can do…
Structured and Unstructured Citations
Different Types of Citation Sites
Location or Niche Specific Citations
Top Directory Sites
Finding Hyper-Local Directory Sites (structured)
Find via Competitor Sites
Find via Google Search
What you want to be doing is picking the websites that have the word “chicago” in the domain name itself.For example, www.chicagobusiness.com
Finding Hyper-Local – Unstructured Sites
Remember, for Google local your NAP data just needs to appear consistently and together on wherever you submit.
Finding Niche Specific SitesThis helps in ranking your listing higher in Google Maps. Although the geo-location signal is a stronger ranking factor in Google Maps, having your citation appear on niche specific sites also helps a lot.
Secret Google Searches 🙂
Finding Hyper-Local Directories
Finding Niche Specific Directories
Finding Hyper-Local Unstructured Sites
Finding Niche Specific Unstructured Sites
Finding Your Competitors Citation Sites
By uncovering your competitors citations you can simply imitate your top competitor’s citations by analysing them and reverse engineering their citations submissions.
You will find gold with this method, and you will find citations you would not normally.Simply take the top 3 to 4 competitors and start uncovering all the places they have submitted their citations to.
Trying Variations of Phone Number or Address
Powering Up Your Citations SEO
- You can power up these search methods by clicking on the LSI results at the bottom of the page and see if it gives you more results.
- If you’re familiar with Scrapebox you can enter variation searches in it and automate and speed up the process.
- Also search for counties, neighboring cities, towns etc. Instead of sticking just to the city you can submit to locations around it, and then also look for domain with neighboring location city/country/location name in them! (just like I mentioned above)
- Press Releases is a great way of getting Mentions of NAP all over the web on non-directory sites. This is known to have a very good boosting effect, but you may need to do more than on Press Release (submit one press release every month for maybe 2 to 3 months for maximum benefit). This is an advanced topic – but I am mentioning it as it is a method through which you can boost your local rankings. Drop me a note below if you want to know of my secret press release service that works well and is the cheapest out there in terms of cost.
- you can submit to paid sites like bbb.org if your top competitors have done so and you are in a competitive niche and your budget permits. This is a paid listing with a lot of trust.
- you can submit to Image sharing sites and get your NAP data as part of the description or caption! *sneaky!*
- you can get citations on Wikipedia / very powerful citations method (but I won’t talk about that here – as its a lengthy discussion by itself! Drop a comment below if you’re interested to learn more about this.
- hold a meetup.com meetup at your location and get a citation mention! Search – site:meetup.com + city – and then offer them to have them meet at your place in acknowledgement for having them list your address.
- look for city + “chamber of commerce” to get a powerful sponsored backlink if your local chamber of commerce has a sponsorship feature. Another paid listing with a lot of trust and relevance!
- Offer testimonials to anyone located locally whom you have paid to do some service to you. For example a local garage door repair contractor, pool cleaner etc. Think of who has done any work for you at our facility… trimmed a tree, cut your lawn etc and ask them for this. Call them up and say – “Could I put a testimonial on your website?” Why would they say no! And, when you send the testimonial make sure to put your NAP info as it shows a real person giving the testimonial and works very well for them and you! Remember: You don’t need a backlink for citations – so they will also be fine with it!
- Knowem.com – a great place to search through hundreds of citation sites and check where all your NAP is already listed.
- Whitespark Citation Finder – fantastic local tool to unravel even more places… globally and locally.
- Hidden Citations List – List of Citation Sites that accept hidden Addresses.
- GetListed.org – another good tool to find places to submit to. Look for niche specific or geo-specific sites for you location. Look at citation sources by category (more powerful) than citation source by city (most sources are in multiple locations on this site – so not specific to a city, and so you can skip those sites). But, if you find one that is specific to a city then its a good find). So look for city specific citation sites.
- Power Tip – If your business has cross-over category possibility… that is – you can submit to another category and still be relevant – then you can simply look for other category specific sites using the tools above.
- Make sure you have the top places done all right. This includes having a Facebook Page.
- Once you’ve done the Tier 1 and 2 sites, you can fire up some automated link building tools or buy a gig to submit to Web2.0 sites for you. Make sure you DO NOT submit a backlink! This is a mass method and is not advised if done to submit backlinks directly to your site (for organic rankings). But, its totally safe if you’re submitting NAP data that appears as NAP mentions. Just make sure to add some content also on the page that is relevant to your business – a business description from GMB seo page works just fine, and you don’t need more than a couple of hundred words.
Secret Local GMB Research Web Tool / Software (FREE)
Here’s a link to an amazing web tool and downloadable software that will let you do local research of GMB listings. It doesn’t get any better than this tool. I highly recommend this one, and best of all its Free! Here’s the link to the web tool – Easy Local Cash
That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this post.
I will be editing it and adding more tips to it, so make sure you subscribe below to get the updates!
If you have any questions or have a tip you’d like to share please comment below.