Online business listings (technically referred to as business citations) have superpowers for brick and mortar and service area businesses that market locally.
From retail stores, manufacturers, and restaurants, to auto repair shops, and construction – local visibility is paramount to their success and survivability.
The superpowers of these business citations are many…
- Multiply visibility on search engines
- Increase review submissions
- Provide consistent and correct paths of contact
- Offer another platform to share images and video
- Good data grows holistically across the internet, bad data stalls
In addition to all these attributes, citations are used by search engines to validate and improve their (search engines) indexed knowledge base about your business! The more consistent this data is across the web, the more search engines like Google will trust its accuracy – and in return – the more it will show these citations and your website in search results.
If your website and any citation display for a search – you now have 2 mentions of your business among the sea of blue links. That’s doubling your branding and market share, through nothing but citation management. That, and, for your citation to display on the search engine results page, one of your competitors was pushed off the first page! Now that’s powerful stuff.
But with all these superpowers, why then is it that 80% of businesses not actively manage citations? The short answer, in my experience, is that they just don’t know how powerful they are. It’s as simple and honest as that.
So, with that, here is the top 4 reasons why businesses are not minding their citations – from my experience.
1. It’s Hard Work, And There Are No Shortcuts (that work)
As anything in life, long-term results are best obtained through sweat equity – in this case, that translates to finger-numbing keyboarding.
Businesses have to commit to the notion that just as they have to be on the hunt for their next customer, so too must they be vigilant with their citation management – it just might deliver that next client lead.
In our experience, 30% of our clients have their citations hacked or edited by people other than them – or us. We are the only line of defense for catching it – and for this reason, citation building is not a one-and-done service. Ongoing monitoring of changes plays an important part in the big picture.
As for shortcuts, there are services and software at all price points that promise all your citations will be updated. We’ve tried ’em (Yext, Uberall, AdviceLocal, MOZ, Synup, MyPresences, UBL, birdeye, and more), and what we found you can expect with these solutions are many duplicate listings and half-completed citations. Citation management is hard work, so if we found something that did the job better than we could – we would be using it!
2. The Focus Is On Too Few – Or Too Many
Back in the mid-2000s, and earlier, it was common to submit to as many citations sources as possible, possibly even hundreds or thousands at a time. And back then, it worked and was a well-published best-case strategy. That was then, and by now, and those links have either lost their weight/strength or have been shuttered.
So, what’s the current strategy? Should businesses just focus on their Google My Business profile and not bother with it anymore? The short answer is – not likely.
One thing is for sure, businesses do not need to optimize as many citations today as they once did. In fact, most businesses can be well optimized with just 15-25 carefully selected citations. Older, well-established businesses, and those who were playing the numbers game of years ago might need more, but in those cases, 30-40 should set them on a good path. Knowing which citations bring value to a particular business or industry is a craft we’ve been honing for over 20-years.
Citation changes are typically completed within a week, and are re-visited over the year to compare the actual citation against what we submitted – often, it takes a few cycles of changes to get it all in. Again, this is definitely not a once-and-done activity. Partner with experience, otherwise, you’ll be paying to redo work and never see the benefit.
3. Could You Be Linked-In With An SEO Scammer?
Sadly, there seem to be as many SEO scammers – as there are specialists, but telling them apart is not that difficult, if you know what to look for, here are some tips…
- Scammers promise quick results, for quick cash
- Specialists (refraining from the word “SEO expert” here) advise sustainable results over time and speak of your money spent as an investment rather than overpromising quick results
- Scammers speak of guaranteed top listings – with a once-and-done attitude
- Specialists will tell you nobody can guarantee search engine rankings, but can help you fold your citation campaign into a larger and comprehensive strategy
- Scammers promise to list your business on hundreds of directories and search engines seemingly overnight
- Specialists speak of listing your business on relevant directories which feed into other citation sources and of exposure to more review potentials. Real, time earned benefits.
- Scammers speak of immediate results
- Specialists speak of the big picture
Listen to your gut – and if the promises sound too good to be true – they probably are.
4. Tricking The System Will Not Treat You Well In The Big Picture
Loopholes and SEO tricks are openly published online, taking advantage of this trickery will surely result in having fewer prospects knocking on your door – perhaps not immediately, but certainly eventually. Ultimately, the search engines will figure this out and create a way to find the businesses that took advantage of this tactic – and will most likely reduce those businesses ranking – or remove their listing altogether.
The practice of employing these aggressive SEO tactics is referred to as Black Hat SEO (think cowboy); while those who follow best practices are known as White Hat SEO specialists.
Businesses that rank high on search engines do so because of many factors – building local visibility through citation management is arguably second only to website search engine optimization (On-Page SEO) regarding the importance and having lasting results.
Committing proper resources (time and money) to citation building is a proven process of providing long-term competitiveness and visibility enhancement.