Getting the word out about your business no longer comes down to paper flyers and billboards. These days, customers are relying on web searches to connect them to the services they’re looking for.
The internet is a powerful tool—when used correctly. As you build out your business’s online presence, you want to make sure that you’re doing it in the smartest way possible. It’s important that any information listed about your business is accurate and free from errors, and that you’re taking advantage of every opportunity.
With the right local citation service, you can take control of your business’s data to level up your SEO and reach the most customers.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a critical part of your overall SEO strategy. This is especially true if you have a physical location that depends on local customers discovering you online.
This also benefits web and mobile users because it shows the results in their area. For example, if someone Googles “fitness center,” the results will be close to their geographic location, making it the most relevant to them.
Local SEO can give your business a serious edge over your competitors. There are many different factors that influence where you rank locally. Using local keywords, name, address, phone number and client reviews are just a few. There are also tons of different tools out there to help you analyze where your business currently ranks, and help you rise to the top.
What is a Local Citation?
Any time your business is listed on a third-party website, like in an online directory, it’s known as a local citation. (Think Google My Business, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, and dozens more.) Local citations include the following information:
When put together, this is known as a NAP (name, address, phone number). A listing can contain other information, like a description of what services or products you offer, images of your business, the hours you operate, etc.
Getting this information in the right places on the internet is not only helpful for your customers, but it’s an essential component of any local SEO strategy.
Search engines comb the entire web to find information about your business and will return this information to anyone who searches for it. Search engines love local citations. When a search engine can find the same information about you in multiple places, it makes you more credible and legitimate. Because of this, a business with a lot of local citations will rank higher on local SERPs (search engine results pages).
When you have lots of citations about your business that all display the exact same information, you’ll be able to attract more customers who are looking for what you offer. But the key phrase there is “exact same.” Search engines will only rank you higher if they believe that your information is accurate and high-quality. Consistency is king.
But how can you make sure that all your online listings are correct? This is where a local citation service can save the day.
What Can a Local Citation Service Do for Your Business?
Now that you know how essential local citations are for your SEO strategy, you can see how inaccurate listings can negatively impact your business. You want to keep your online presence accurate by cleaning up any erroneous data, merging together duplicate listings, and continually creating new listings.
But digging through the web manually and trying to find, update, or add a listing yourself is pain-staking work. It can take a lot of time to even figure out which directories to submit to. You have to find the directories online, make sure they’re legitimate, check to see if your business is already listed, enter your info or make changes to existing info, and then check back later to make sure the submission is working properly.
Whew. For most business owners, the time that it takes to do all this can be more wisely spent elsewhere.
This is where local citation services come in. A local citation service can do all the heavy lifting for you, and ensure all your listings are the same across the board. This will save you countless hours, so that you can focus on running and growing your business.
How Do Local Citation Services Work?
The web is bursting at the seams with data. So, how exactly do local citation services get your information out to all the directories?
Often, these services use local data aggregators to make their process more efficient. Local data aggregators are companies that collect and process data. They bring in many different kinds of data from local businesses, individuals, and other sources. From there, they analyze this data, break it down, clean it up, and organize it in a way that makes sense and is usable by others. These data aggregation companies charge money for access to their data, and companies who pay for this data use it to score leads, create ad campaigns targeted to certain demographics, and—you guessed it—populate online directories.
There are four main local data aggregators in the US: Acxiom, Factual, Neustar Localeze, and Data Axle (formerly known as Infogroup). Each local citation service can choose which local data aggregators they use to collect their data and list it online, or if they even want to use a data aggregator service. Some local citation services actually build their own directories from the ground up.
In addition to data aggregators, some citation services offer direct-to-site submissions which means you can also be listed on websites that require a manual submission.
What Are The Differences Between Local Citation Services?
Just as every business is unique, no two local citation services are alike.
Here is a comparison of seven of the most well-known local citation services, including what the process for working with them looks like, what they offer, and what sets them apart from one another. It’s important to do research and learn about each company before working with them so that you fully understand the pros and cons of each.
Understanding both the drawbacks and upsides can help you choose a local citation service that is the right fit for your business.
1. Direction Local
Direction Local is our unique local citation software that goes beyond just ensuring your listings are accurate, so you know your site will be found by those who need it.
When you sign up with Direction Local, you get something different from any other similar citation service. You get full on-boarding and support from a team of local SEO experts based out of Washington DC and Silicon Valley who are intent on moving the needle for you.
We know how important SEO is for businesses to grow and succeed, and we can help you make sure that your online information is consistent and accurate. Unlike the other services on this list, we will work directly with you to help you meet your marketing goals, at a price point that fits into any budget – starting at only $60/month.
Direction Local also has industry-specific directory integrations with places such as NextDoor, TripAdvisor, WebMD, Doctor.com and more!
2. Moz Local
Moz Local uses all four of the local data aggregators to gather and list information, meaning you get good coverage across the internet. They also use Foursquare, which doesn’t function in the same way a traditional data aggregator does, but does send information to Pinterest and some local search apps, so it can get you some extra listings. Moz Local can also help to identify duplicate listings.
However, some people note that their user interface can be difficult to use and navigate, and it can take from two to eight months for them to complete their listings of your business. At an introductory price of $129 a year, Moz Local will submit to eight different directories, and 5 GPS services, which isn’t much coverage for the price.
If you’re looking for an SEO reporting platform, BrightLocal is a great option to consider.
BrightLocal offers tons of local SEO features including locating and monitoring citations across the web, search rank tracking, online review monitoring, and easy-to-read SEO reporting. All these different reporting features will break down exactly how you’re doing with local SEO, show you what could be improved and prove your ROI on your local SEO efforts.
When using BrightLocal, you can choose if you want the service to build citations from your submission or from data aggregators, which gives you more control over the process.
For direct-to-site submissions, you can expect to pay two to three dollars per listing. If you choose to use a data aggregator, it starts at $60 per year. Unlike some services, you don’t have to keep paying to keep your listings active if you choose to submit them manually.
BrightLocal will also help you find duplicate listings, inaccuracies, and opportunities to create new listings, but like Moz Local, these listings can take a few months to go live.
Yext offers a convenient and user-friendly dashboard, so you can manage more than 100 listings from one place. New listings and edits go live quickly, and you can get reports about how your listings are performing.
When it comes to data aggregators, they only use Foursquare and Factual, which doesn’t give you all the coverage you may need. At a price point of $499 a year, this may not be the most budget friendly choice.
Whitespark is a local citation finder. If you’re not familiar with the term, a citation is basically a reference to your business’s name, website, address or phone number somewhere on the internet.
Whitespark has a lot of great tools to help you master local SEO, including an online citation finder. This tool will show you all of your current citations on the internet, as well as critical ones you might be missing. There are tons of different websites out there that customers turn to for insight into a business, so odds are you are missing at least one.
In addition to the citation finder, they have plenty of other tools to help you build your local reputation on the web. This includes services such as a local rank finder, reputation builder, and link prospecting, just to name a few.
Information on pricing is limited on their website, so you’ll need to contact them directly in order to discuss your business needs and get specific pricing.
For a one-time fee, you can use Whitespark to submit to aggregators and directly to certain sites. This can appeal to businesses who don’t want a recurring yearly expense. They also offer a custom service for researching new citation opportunities and will clean up your already-existing citations for a fee.
They offer a quick turn-around time, but their listings cost between $4 and $5 each, which doesn’t make them the most cost-effective option available to you. They also don’t integrate with Google Analytics or Google My Business, which is a drawback for many users.
6. Advice Local
Advice Local will submit your listing to a fixed number of sites, which means you can’t select which sites you submit to, though they tend to be favored by niche services and some industries. They can claim and submit directly to Google My Business, Facebook, and Twitter, but don’t claim listings on all directories, and you don’t own the listings.
This means that once you stop paying for the service, your aggregator listings will revert to how they were before you used the service after one year.
Synup charges a monthly fee and requires a yearly commitment. They don’t integrate with Google My Business, and submitting to extra sites can cost more in addition to the monthly fee.
They also offer a few other tools like reputation monitoring, SEO reporting, and data synching, which add value to the packages you can get.
GeoRanker is great at helping you find your local listings and track your current search rankings.
GeoRanker will create local citations for you on tons of different sites across the web. They also have a local rank checker, so you can check-in and see where your business ranks in search engines in real time.
A lot of their tools can be used for free, which is great for small businesses just starting out with SEO. Once you advance, however, you’ll likely need to upgrade to a paid plan that starts at $99/month.
3 Key Concepts to Keep in Mind as You Choose
When choosing to hire any service, you want to make sure you’re going in knowing what to expect. There are a few things that you need to remember when using any of these local citation services.
1. You Will Have to Collaborate with Any Local Citation Service You Choose
While these services will save you a lot of time and resources, none of them are completely hands-off. All reputable directories require that business owners double-check and verify their listings. This can usually be done via text message, phone call, or mail.
This helps the directories minimize cases of listing fraud, but it means that your involvement is essential. Yes, there can be a lot of red tape when it comes to verifying this information, so it can be a long process. But the right local citation service will work with you to make it go as smoothly as possible.
2. Choose a Service That Fits Your Business’s Individual Needs
Because each service creates listings for different directories, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be 100% covered across every available listing. So, you need to take a close look at the specifics of each service’s offerings and how they fit into your goals.
When choosing what service is right for your business, make sure to consider your industry, as some listing services are better for certain industries depending on the sites they list to. You also need to make sure that the service you choose will help you identify any duplicate or inconsistent listings, not only create new listings.
Plus, as seen above, the fees you’ll end up paying annually will vary depending on which service you choose, so it’s important to see what options are available in your budget range.
3. It’s About More Than Expense
It may be tempting, but don’t simply choose the most inexpensive solution. Choosing a service just because it’s cheap may result in inaccuracies, duplicate listings, or other issues that can negatively affect your local search optimization. (And doesn’t that defeat the whole point?)
Higher price point packages can sometimes offer some helpful features that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Of course, it’s important to remember your budget, but when you have an SEO strategy that works, the new leads and customers you attract will be more than worth your initial investment.
Choose a Local Citation Service That Works for You
Is inaccurate online data negatively affecting your local SEO strategy? Do you want more traffic coming to your website? The right local citation service will work directly with your business’s unique needs to push forward your SEO and enhance your online presence.
Dominate your Local SEO with Direction Local. Schedule a free consultation today.