Why links are still the core authority signal in Google’s algorithm

Why links are still the core authority signal in Google’s algorithm

Link metrics have been the foundation of Google’s ranking algorithm since the beginning, but could anything ever surpass links as a ranking signal? Columnist Jayson DeMers speculates.

The post Why links are still the core authority signal in Google’s algorithm appeared first on Search Engine…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Source: Search Engine Land

Local SEO without the Local Map: What Is It?

Local SEO without the Local Map: What Is It?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jg_photo_art/5142967906/

Google is still in the early stages of injecting ads into the Google Maps 3-pack.  Google never met an ad it didn’t like, so the only question is when (not if) the map pack will become Times Square.

The thought of a pay-to-play local map scares the bejeezus out of many local business owners and local SEOs.

Will you lose your seat at the Local Feast to a big dumb corporation that can shovel more money into AdWords than you can?   Or, if helping people with local SEO is your business – and you don’t do PPC – will you be lying in chalk?

No and no.  Not if you apply a strategy (more on that in a second) that’s based on a few truths:

1. As long as there are local customers, local businesses, and the Web, there will always be local SEO. It’ll just continue to morph over time, as it always has.

2. Your “Google Maps” visibility has a huge amount of overlap with other areas of online marketing – particularly with your organic-search visibility (read: your links and content) and with how good you are at earning reviews on a variety of sites.

3. The local map is not the holy grail. Keep in mind that I make a living in large part by helping businesses get visible there, so I’m the last guy to say it’s not important.  But I’ve seen people dominate the local pack and not get any new business.  Also, Google can always mess it up (even more), lose the trust of searchers, and reduce the potential payoff.  If your one source of leads is your Google local-pack rankings, you are mooning a lion.

4. Local SEO is not just about rankings (duh). When you need something, do you automatically hire whomever ranks #1?  Neither do most people.  Local searchers are not a captive audience.  Most of them will dig until they find a business they trust.  Visibility in Google is only one part of becoming that business.

Fine, but what do you do if Google’s local map becomes prohibitively expensive, or worthless, or disappears entirely?  What’s left?  Is it Van Halen without David Lee Roth?

Local SEO wouldn’t be lessened, or even all that different.  If we write off the map results, your local SEO campaign becomes a combination of your work on the following:

  • Branded search results.  When people look up your business by name, can they immediately tell your site belongs to you and not to a sound-alike competitor?  Are they impressed by your customers’ reviews of you on all the review sites that show up on page 1 for your name?  Have you received any local press?  Are you listed on niche sites?

  • Organic visibility.  It’s usually the business with the best organic visibility that ends up ranking best on the local map.  Often, that comes down to strength of your links.  But you may also want to write blog posts on extremely specific topics in your industry or city, or create good “location” or “city” pages, or both.  Arguably even now you’re not necessarily better off if you rank well in the local pack but not in the organic results; they’re neck-and-neck.  But if the local pack becomes a total trash heap, your organic visibility pays off even more, because people will go back to looking there for all non-ads search results – just as they did before Google Places came onto the scene.
  • Barnacle SEO.  Getting your Yelp, Facebook, YouTube, or other non-company-website, non-Google online properties to rank for “local” keywords can help you haul in more leads, even when your other rankings aren’t so good.
  • Facebook.  It’s slowly waded about shin-deep into the local pond, but there’s no reason to think the shirt isn’t coming off.  It’s only getting more important, and there any many ways to use it to get more local customers.
  • Other local search engines: Apple Maps and Bing Places and Yahoo.
  • Local directories or review sites. Not the rinky-dink ones, but rather places like Yelp, Angie’s List, and maybe even nasty old YellowPages.
  • Industry-specific directories or review sites. Zillow, Avvo, HealthGrades, TripAdvisor, DealerRater, etc.  Those are the big names, but even small niches have directories, and you should pay attention to them.
  • Sites and apps not yet created. Local search in general has gotten bigger over the years, not smaller.  It’s become more of a part of everyone’s life, and will continue in that direction.

If Google’s local map results change significantly or go away, it’s not the beginning of the end, but maybe just the end of the beginning.

Now, I would be surprised if the local map ever becomes 100% pay-to-play, and I’m certain that it won’t change to that overnight.

But you still want a bunker plan.  That means you need to stock up the bunker with MREs and batteries and road flares and ninja throwing stars and whatever else before all hell breaks loose.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/13476480@N07/16671969110/

That’s why, even if the local map-pack remains free and a meritocracy at least in theory, I suggest you work on the things I just described no matter what.

What are some important non-Google-Maps aspects of local SEO?

What’s in your “bunker plan,” in case the local map gets too pay-to-play?

Leave a comment!

Local SEO without the Local Map: What Is It?
Source: Local Visibility System

Google Shoehorns Critic Reviews into Desktop Local Search Results

Google Shoehorns Critic Reviews into Desktop Local Search Results

Google’s hustled on this one.  Less than a week ago, reviews from “critics” started appearing in the local search results on mobile devices.  Now they’re showing up in desktop search results, too.

Right now, “Critic” reviews only show up for restaurants and the like.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it remains that way, but I could imagine Google doing the same for hotels.

This latest tweak is a number of things: a bite out of Yelp’s pie, possibly a sign that Google knows it’s got quality-control issues with Google reviews, and definitely a test to see whether users click on and read and trust “critic” reviews more than those written by the unwashed masses.

Of course, it’s all part of an effort to jack up AdWords use in one way or another – whether or not anyone outside of Mountain View knows yet exactly how.

One thing that puzzles me about this update (or swiftly rolled-out test) is it’s not clear how Google might extend “critic” reviews to showing up in the local search results for industries where business owners really lay down the Benjamins for AdWords – legal, medical, home-improvement, realty, insurance, etc.  Most restaurateurs aren’t big on PPC.

What do you make of “critic” reviews?

Are you seeing them in any non-dining search results?

Leave a comment!

Google Shoehorns Critic Reviews into Desktop Local Search Results
Source: Local Visibility System

Advanced Google Shopping: Is price a proxy for Quality Score in product ads?

Advanced Google Shopping: Is price a proxy for Quality Score in product ads?

Columnist Andreas Reiffen shares insights about price sensitivity and user behavior in Google Shopping, based on an analysis of 15,000 conversions across the German, UK and US markets.

The post Advanced Google Shopping: Is price a proxy for Quality Score in product ads? appeared first on Search…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Source: Search Engine Land

Digital Strategy Basics: The What, the Why, & the How

Digital Strategy Basics: The What, the Why, & the How

Posted by CraigBradford

Chemical bonds.png

Strategy is hard enough if you understand it. It’s even harder if you don’t.

If you understand it, you realize it’s made up of many moving parts. If you don’t, the best you’ll come up with is some version of operational efficiency: building more links, writing more blog posts, making more video. Those activities aren’t strategies — and if you fail to differentiate your plan, you’ll find yourself forever chasing those who started before you, or falling behind better-funded competitors.

I enjoy strategy, both on the academic and theoretical side of things and in more practical opportunities helping our clients at Distilled. Below are some of the things I’ve learned along the way that you might find useful, especially if you’re a business owner, setting up marketing strategies, or a consultant. If you’re in more of an individual contributor role, you’ll receive the background and basis you need to understand how it all fits together and create a personal development plan towards building strategy.

Read on and you’ll have a better understanding of what strategy means, what type of strategy you need and how to make good decisions. For each section, I’ve included a reading list too.

What is strategy?

Good strategies are compounds, not elements.

Start here:

A good starting point for understanding strategy is an infamous article by Michael E. Porter – “What is Strategy?” It’s quite academic, but covers a lot of the key points. I recommend reading it a few times; it’s worth it.

To understand what strategy is, I like to use a chemical analogy of elements and compounds. A compound is a combination of two or more elements. In the case of a strategy, the activities would be the elements and the strategy would be the compound. I like this analogy for a few reasons:

Reverse-engineering a compound can be challenging

Many people fall into the trap of trying to copy a competitor’s strategy. This is bad for a number of reasons, but one in particular that I’d like to highlight: even if you think you know what a competitor’s strategy is from the outside, it can be very hard to copy successfully unless you know all of the individual details.

Much like a chemical reaction, different quantities of the same elements combined in different ways can produce very different results. Often, when people try to copy a strategy, they’re really just copying an element or activity.

Compounds are only as strong as their weakest link

Different strategies take different levels of energy to crack. In What is Strategy?, this idea is referred to as “activity systems” and “fit.” The example used is Southwest Airlines. Some people would try and describe a strategy as a slogan: “Southwest Airlines services price- and convenience-sensitive customers.” That might be true, but there’s not anything particularly advantageous about that idea. The competitive advantage comes from how they integrate:

“Through fast turnarounds at the gate of only 15 minutes, Southwest is able to keep planes flying longer hours than rivals and provide frequent departures with fewer aircraft. Southwest does not offer meals, assigned seats, interline baggage checking, or premium classes of service. Automated ticketing at the gate encourages customers to bypass travel agents, allowing Southwest to avoid their commissions. A standardized fleet of 737 aircraft boosts the efficiency of maintenance.”

This is what those individual pieces look like as part of a system:

Click to open a larger version in a new tab

The more stable the compound, the slower it reacts

A stable compound with lots of bonds, while strong and hard to copy, is slow to adapt if the market changes unexpectedly. Change forces managers to dismantle their existing resource systems and reassemble them in new strategic positions.

“For example, Liz Claiborne, an apparel company, relied on a positioning strategy in which production, distribution, marketing, design, presentation and sales resources were all tightly linked. But when the industry changed, the company’s relationships with department stores were disrupted. In an effort to adapt, Claiborne executives changed resources such as their “no reordering” process that had antagonized department stores. But since this process was synergistically entwined with other resources like overseas logistics and distant manufacturing locations, the “no reordering” process could not be undone without damaging system coherence. Financial performance sank precipitously. Only after Claiborne executives dismantled their existing resources and started reconnecting new ones did positive performance begin to return.”
Source

All of the above is to say that the key to an effective and sustainable strategy is to focus on the integration of activities. Operational efficiency alone isn’t a strategy. A good way to sanity-check this is by asking why you’re doing an activity.

I like this slide from fellow Distiller Rob Ousbey, which puts some of theory into context in marketing strategy:

Making marketing strategy easier

What type of strategy do you need?

Start here:

The type of marketing strategy you use can (and should) change as the business requirements change. Two questions that are a good place to start:

  1. How predictable is your market?
  2. How malleable is the market (can you influence demand, needs, etc.)?

Based on your answers to those questions, there are choices. I like the wording from “Which Strategy When?”:

  1. Position (fortress) – Positional-based strategies are best when you’re trying to defend a long-term position in the market. Strategies in this space involve deepening the activities and resources that you have within a particular area. This is best in markets where there isn’t a lot of change.
  2. Leveraging strategy – Leveraging strategies are useful in markets where you have some influence on how the market moves and there’s less predictability. A chess analogy is a good one, since it’s not just about having the right pieces; it also requires making smart moves. A recent example that I love is the example of Google using Deepmind AI to reduce data center costs by 15%. That’s a pretty big deal.
  3. Opportunity (surfing) – Opportunity strategies can be compared to surfing and waves; it’s hard to predict when they’ll come or how long they’ll last. Timing is important, and occasionally you get a good one. Being set up in a way that allows you to capitalize on opportunities as they arise is crucial.

It’s possible, probably recommended, to have some mix of all three. I like the graph that our R&D team use to explain this, shown below. The idea is that there are always trade-offs between the chance of success and reward.

Final - Craig Bradford - Searchlove Boston - Creating Digital Strategy copy (Craig’s MacBook Pro's conflicted copy 2015-04-30).001.jpeg

Click to open a bigger version in a new tab

Picking a strategy and making decisions

Start here:

Closely related to the difficulty of strategy is the necessity to make choices. Strategy forces you to make decisions and explicitly cut off options. This can be difficult for a number of reasons. I talked about this in depth in my SearchLove Boston presentation, Creating a Digital Strategy:

Final - Craig Bradford - Searchlove Boston - Creating Digital Strategy copy (Craig’s MacBook Pro's conflicted copy 2015-04-30).001.jpeg

One of the hardest things about strategy? Resisting the urge to do it all. The most obvious way this happens is by getting distracted by competitors. In the book The Secrets of Consulting, the first chapter introduces the idea of the law of strawberry jam: “the wider you spread it, the thinner it gets,” which is a nice way of saying that you can’t do it all. Every service or feature you add to your business has a cost of some kind. Trade-offs are a critical part of making sure your strategy is sustainable, because they protect from competitors trying to straddle multiple markets.

To go back to the previous example of Southwest Airlines, someone that tried to spread it far and thick was Continental Lite. By trying to copy Southwest and offer a low-cost airline solution while still trying to compete as a full-service airline:

“The airline dubbed the new service Continental Lite. It eliminated meals and first-class service, increased departure frequency, lowered fares, and shortened turnaround time at the gate. Because Continental remained a full-service airline on other routes, it continued to use travel agents and its mixed fleet of planes and to provide baggage checking and seat assignments.”
Source: What is Strategy?

If you haven’t made some trade-offs, your position probably isn’t sustainable and is open to imitation.

“Trade-offs ultimately grounded Continental Lite. The airline lost hundreds of millions of dollars, and the CEO lost his job. Its planes were delayed leaving congested hub cities or slowed at the gate by baggage transfers. Late flights and cancellations generated a thousand complaints a day. Continental Lite could not afford to compete on price and still pay standard travel-agent commissions, but neither could it do without agents for its full-service business. The airline compromised by cutting commissions for all Continental flights across the board. Similarly, it could not afford to offer the same frequent-flier benefits to travelers paying the much lower ticket prices for Lite service. It compromised again by lowering the rewards of Continental’s entire frequent-flier program. The results: angry travel agents and full-service customers.”
Source: What is Strategy?

Other academic theories as to why copying competitors is a bad idea are covered in the Innovator’s Dilemma, which I also recommend reading.

The short version is that when competitors copy each other, the only person that wins is the customer. Over the long term, the more competitors converge, the more they look like each other and customers default to price to help choose between options. This drives prices down and squeezes margins.

To draw comparisons to the search space, I see this taking place in processes like keyword research. So many companies make a big list of keywords, then churn out average content that looks the same as every other article online about that topic. Don’t waste your time.

Advice for choosing a digital marketing strategy

Start here:

Don’t turn it into an optimization problem. There’s more than one right answer in the majority of cases. I like the advice Scott McNealy gives (he was a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and its CEO for 22 years). When asked how he makes decisions, he said:

“It’s important to make good decisions. But I spend much less time and energy worrying about ‘making the right decision’ and much more time and energy ensuring that any decision I make turns out right.”
Source

What an amazing attitude! You can see how this applies at the later stage in strategy. Once you’ve gone through all of the possible scenarios, validated the ideas, and narrowed it down to the last couple, this is the stage where analysis paralysis takes effect and people naturally want to turn strategy into planning. Just pick one and focus on making sure it turns out a success. Another way to think about this: strategy is about placing bets and shortening odds of success. Remember that you can course-correct; strategy isn’t sniping. You can take more than one shot and iterate, so don’t be afraid to change.

With that in mind, I’ll wrap it up. Hopefully this was useful to some people. For a deeper dive into this, take a look at my SearchLove presentation, Creating Your Digital Strategy, which covers all of the above and in a more practical, process-driven way.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Source: SEO Moz

Local Business Directory Support-Team Email Addresses: How to Reach a Human When You Need Help

Local Business Directory Support-Team Email Addresses: How to Reach a Human When You Need Help

https://www.flickr.com/photos/trailimage/12826185203/

For reasons that may or may not have to do with local SEO, you need to fix your online listings.  Maybe you want to fix 50, or just one.

All these sites all make you jump through hoops.  You’ve done everything they’ve asked you to.  You’ve filled out their forms to submit new listings as directed, and to make fixes as directed.  You’ve waited.

That process has probably worked for most of your listings, but you’ve got stragglers.  Either the form’s broken, or you get an error message no matter what you do, or the changes don’t stick, or it’s been 5 months and they still haven’t processed your listing.

It’s time to bother a human.  Someone who works at the site.

That’s only fair.  You may only have a free listing and not pay the site directly for a primo listing, but they can only make money from ads if they have a business directory big or good enough to get them traffic, which they boast about in order to sell the ads.  Your business info is part of their directory, and therefore part of their sales pitch.  They owe it to you to make basic fixes to your listing, if they don’t give you the means to do it yourself.

But most of these places don’t give you an easy way to reach someone who can help.  (Hey, time is money.)  So how do you reach someone?

I’ve compiled a list of support-team emails for various local directories, search engines, and data-aggregators.

Many of these addresses my helpers and I have used successfully.  Others are for sites we’ve never needed to contact by email.  All should reach someone who can help you, or who will refer you to someone in a neighboring cubicle who can.

Please email wisely:

  • Use a domain email if at all possible (yourname@yourcompanysite.com). Consider setting up one, if you don’t already use it for your citations.
  • Be polite. Maybe you hate the yellowpages-type company, but the support rep didn’t do anything to you (and can always find a way to decline your request if you’re nasty).
  • Make it clear exactly what you want, so they can oblige you without wasting your time or theirs on back-and-forth.
  • Make it clear you’ve tried everything else, including the normal channels.
  • Don’t email them 5 times in a day because they didn’t get back to you within the hour.
  • If for some reason they can’t say yes to your request, ask how you can get your listing fixed.
  • If you have 75 locations, first ask how you should go about getting those listings fixed en masse.
  • Don’t email them constantly. If you pee in the pool, we’ll all have to get out (but might want to throw you back in).

Here are the support emails, from A to Z, for 21 sites you might be wrangling with:

Acxiom / MyBusinessListingManager email:
mblm@acxiom.com

Angie’s List emails:
angieslist@angieslist.com or memberservices@angieslist.com

Apple MapsConnect emails:
mapsconnect@apple.com or mapsconnect-business@apple.com

Bing Places email:
placesfeedback@microsoft.com

City-Data.com email:
errors@city-data.com

CitySearch / InsiderPages emails:
myaccount@citygridmedia.com or customerservice@citygrid.com

Cylex email:
info@cylex-usa.com

Factual email:
accounts@factual.com

Foursquare business email:
support@foursquare.com

InfoGroup / ExpressUpdate email:
contentfeedback@infogroup.com

LocalEze emails:
support@neustar.biz, support@localeze.com, or localezesupport@neustar.biz

Manta email:
help@manta.com

MapQuest email:
supportteam@mapquest.com

MerchantCircle emails :
toplevelsupport@merchantcircle.com or support@merchantcircle.com

ShowMeLocal email:
support@showmelocal.com

SuperPages & DexKnows email:
customerservice@supermedia.com

Yahoo Local email
listings-support@yahoo-inc.com
(If Yext won’t help you – and you’ve tried their free-fix method – you can email Yahoo.  We’ve had success in getting duplicates removed this way.)

Yellowbook emails:
team@hibubusiness.com or servicecenter@hibu.com

YellowBot email:
help@yellowbot.com

YellowPages emails:
ypcsupport@yp.com or customer.care@yp.com

Yelp Business email:
feedback@yelp.com

I don’t have a direct, non-phone-tree phone number for most of these (yet?).  If you also want non-email ways to contact some of these sites, here are a few great resources:

Be Where Your Customers Are with Local Business Listings – Max Minzer
(includes some phone numbers and extra detail)

Major Internet Business Directories – Mike Munter
(includes some phone numbers and extra detail)

Twitter Handles for Local Business Citation Sources – Bill Bean
(in case you want to try to get help via Twitter)

Thanks to Austin Lund for letting me know about some emails (see his comment).

Special thanks to Nyagoslav of Whitespark for telling me about a few emails I didn’t know about.  By the way, if the thought of fixing all your listings yourself makes you feel like Fred Sanford, consider hiring Whitespark to help clean up your citations.

Which sites have been helpful – or not helpful – when you’ve emailed them?

Any email addresses you’re still looking for?

Any emails I’m missing?

Leave a comment!

Local Business Directory Support-Team Email Addresses: How to Reach a Human When You Need Help
Source: Local Visibility System

Do You Really Need a Facebook Page for Each Location of Your Business?

Do You Really Need a Facebook Page for Each Location of Your Business?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ecastro/4936469618/

Last year a client of mine with multiple locations asked me whether she really needed to bother creating a Facebook page for each location.  She wanted to have just the mothership page, for her flagship location.  Simpler.  Less hassle.

Less benefit, too.

I suggested creating a Facebook page for all locations (which we did), and mothballed away my long answer for the next person who asked.

Then the question came up again on Google+.  I offered a chopped-down answer there, but figured it was time to release the director’s cut.

Here’s why you should have a Facebook page for every location of your business (or at least for the locations you care about):

1.  Customers want and expect to find a Facebook page for the location nearest them.

2.  Google is more likely to show the Facebook page for your nearest location when would-be customers people in that area search for you by name. People in NYC see your NYC page, people in New Jersey see your Jersey page, etc. – even if they type exactly the same thing into Google.  Google is pretty location-sensitive, and your strategy shouldn’t be any less so.

3.  It’s an excellent “barnacle SEO” opportunity.

4.  People don’t want to feel like they’re working with a satellite office, or with “corporate.”

5.  You’ll have a chance at ranking well in Facebook – which is important to the extent that would-be customers go there and actually use Facebook’s search box to find what they’re looking for. Most people don’t do that, but you want to be visible to the ones who do.

6.  It’s another place to get reviews, and a mighty important one at that. You don’t want only your “flagship” location to have Facebook reviews.

7.  Want to use Moz Local? For verification and anti-spam purposes, it requires you to have a Facebook page or a Google My Business page for each location you want to load into Moz Local.  Now, the tool isn’t always good at verifying you by looking at your Google page (for instance, you’ll run into problems if your address is hidden).  That’s when your Facebook page may come in handy.  Belt and suspenders.

8.  It’s a good local citation.

9.  Even you don’t create a Facebook page for a given location, one might be auto-generated for you anyway. If Factual gets it meathooks on your local-business data, it will feed that data to Facebook, which will pump out an “unofficial” page.  You may or may not want that page, which may or may not even have the correct info on your business.

10.  Wouldn’t you want the option of posting content that’s specific to one local market or the other? Rather than generic piffle that everybody’s supposed to like but that nobody really likes.

11.  You don’t even have to spend time being active on all your Facebook pages (or any of them, for that matter). It’s nice if you do, but not essential.  The page just needs to exist, if only for the people who expect to find it, and as a vessel for reviews.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/evenkolder/16555476280/

 

12.  It’s quick and easy to create each page. Don’t do it if you have a good reason that I didn’t address, but don’t skip it out of laziness.

13.  You can always set up “Locations,” if you want what Facebook used to call a parent-child structure between your “main” page and your pages for specific locations. Here’s a great guide on Facebook “Locations” from Sweet IQ.

Can you think of reasons I didn’t mention?

Any arguments against creating a Facebook page for each location?

Leave a comment!

Do You Really Need a Facebook Page for Each Location of Your Business?
Source: Local Visibility System

Niche Local Citations Don’t Get Enough Love

Niche Local Citations Don’t Get Enough Love

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bionicteaching/14230076900/

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.

One quickly hits a wall on citation-building.  Citations are but one piece of the local-rankings puzzle.  (I sure hope you also have a strategy for getting good links and reviews.)

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 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?

Some resources:

Brightlocal’s Best Niche Citation Sites for 41 Business Categories

Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder (or just have them build the niche citations)

My list of review sites

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?

Any questions?

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Niche Local Citations Don’t Get Enough Love
Source: Local Visibility System