Want high internet ranking? Create citations for local SEO. Interivew with tech specialist Michelle Barrows Carter.
Listing your business on Google or Manta is something any business owner with an online presence is aware of. That helps you get found. A colleague of mine, Michelle Barrows Carter, explains how claiming your business on multiple serach engines helps with local SEO. Michelle has seven years experience in the tech industry so she is an authority. Read the Q & A below.
Michelle Walch: What are citations?
Michelle Carter: A citation is a reference to your business from an online directory. A citation will include a reference to your business name, address, and phone number. This is often abbreviated (NAP). A url the business website (NAPW) is not necessary but is often included. Web search algorithms don't need the URL to find your citation.
MW: Why does a business need to create citations?
MC: If you want to rank in search results on any of the major search engines citations are imperative. Especially if you have a local service business. Google’s algorithm look for citations across the web to determine if a business is legitimate. The majority of our business comes from people searching for our service online. If we did not have citations we would not rank. It is one of the first building blocks of appearing in local search. Most importantly it provides value to the reader.
MW: What's the difference between manually creating a citation and having a service do it?
MC: Manual citation building is hard. The business owner must manually list each listing one at a time. The business owner also needs some knowledge of what directories are most important. The obvious and most important places easy to guess, Yelp, Facebook, etc. Some of the other important ones such as citysearch.com or foursquare.com are less obvious.
I choose to build my citations by hand. It is the more cost effective and I love that I have control of my accounts. When I make an update I do hate that I have to log into each account and update them individually.
Citations services are wonderful. They have tools to submit a businesses NAP information once to multiple directories. Any changes to business hours, phone number or logo can all be updated all once.
However, this service has a price. As much as $500.00 a year. The other downfall is if you decide to cancel, all of your listings are deleted or reverted back to what was listed before using the service.
MW: Seems like claiming your business in Google would be enough. What is the advantage of creating citations in other search engines?
MC: Yes, Google is king but we should not forget that according to StatCounter global stats Bing accounts for 5.7% of search traffic on North America. I have read that this % is as much as 33% in the United States. Pro Rank Tracker says is best "Bing’s US market share is 33% in the US and 23% in the UK. That means that effectively, only targeting Google will give you access to just 2/3 of the potential-traffic pie." Yahoo Local also brings in a fair amount of traffic to our website. My strategy is to optimize for Google but not to ignore the smaller search engines.
MW: You have had experience with both citation builders BriteLocal and Yext. What are the pros and cons of both?
MC: BriteLocal is less expensive (plans start at $30 a month) and has a great interface. If I was going to pay for citations I would go choose BriteLocal hands down. Yext is an established company. I have not seen their interface so I can not really list their pros. The con would be the price at almost 500.00 a year.
MW: I tried creating a citation in Bing but it asked me to type in code. How can non-code people create citations in a search engine?
MC: I wonder if they are asking for a verification code. When we created our Bing Local listing they sent a code we had to enter once it was mailed to us. I don't remember having to code anything. Here is an article that details how to add submissions to many of the important citations sites. Bing is included.
MW: When creating citations in BriteLocal many different search engines came up like Dex, Yellow Pages, FourSquare, Hot Frog and others. Is it really imperative that a business is listed in all of these?
MC: No, I don't think so. We (her family runs Junk It a junk removal service in NE Portland) are only listed on about 30 directories and social media platforms. Our website has some juice from these listings. We can, of course, do better and I add more as time allows. Moz has a great directory that lists citations by category Another trick I use is running my business name on one of the more established submission services. They will almost instantly provide the results of where our business is listed if there is missing information or if our listing is missing altogether.
MW: One of the reasons I was hesitant to create citations is because I have a home based business and want to retain privacy. Citations make sense if you have a storefront and multiple locations. How is a home base business privacy handled with a citation?
MC: Yes, this is a valid concern. Most listings give the option of hiding the business address. Not a bad idea if your business’s service or product is geared towards a national audience. We have decided to use our address. We are a local service company so local ranking is imperative to be found in search results. I don’t worry about it too much. If someone really wants to find us they could just look up our business license registration online and find it.
Go HERE to sign up for a 14 day free trail with BriteLocal.
Want to hire a top customer success manager? Check out Michelle Barrows Carter's LinkedIn profile.
Want to hire a copywriter/content marketer/social media strategist? I'm available for one-off blogs or on-going content management. Contact me at michelle (at) michellewalch (dot) com or call me at 503-267-1709 or go to my LinkedIn profile.
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