Citations not indexed


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I have used various citation building services and some have been complete failures because Google has not indexed them even though they exist. One of my main tools is BrightLocal and it was because I use them that I was able to see that the new citations were not showing up for some of these services. With BrightLocal you can add citations manually but it got me thinking - if I add citations manually and they are still not indexed by Google, am I misleading myself and my clients?

BrightLocal have their Citation Tracker (where you can manually add) but also they track citations in their Google My Business tool. I noticed a difference between the two reports and had a discussion with them about it. In the end they agreed with my view that only citations that are indexed by Google (and which would therefore show in the Google My Business tool) are actually helping with ranking.

They sent me this blog - https://jurisdigital.com/are-your-citations-indexed-by-google/ - which suggests a way to get citations indexed if they are not already. Before I implement that strategy, can anyone see any reasons not to?

It got me thinking whether it would help a local business to have a page on its website dedicated to all of its citations as no doubt that would help them to remain indexed. Any thoughts on that or reasons why it would be a bad idea?
 

JoshuaMackens

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I have used various citation building services and some have been complete failures because Google has not indexed them even though they exist. One of my main tools is BrightLocal and it was because I use them that I was able to see that the new citations were not showing up for some of these services. With BrightLocal you can add citations manually but it got me thinking - if I add citations manually and they are still not indexed by Google, am I misleading myself and my clients?

BrightLocal have their Citation Tracker (where you can manually add) but also they track citations in their Google My Business tool. I noticed a difference between the two reports and had a discussion with them about it. In the end they agreed with my view that only citations that are indexed by Google (and which would therefore show in the Google My Business tool) are actually helping with ranking.

They sent me this blog - https://jurisdigital.com/are-your-citations-indexed-by-google/ - which suggests a way to get citations indexed if they are not already. Before I implement that strategy, can anyone see any reasons not to?

It got me thinking whether it would help a local business to have a page on its website dedicated to all of its citations as no doubt that would help them to remain indexed. Any thoughts on that or reasons why it would be a bad idea?
Yes, hardly any citation services do indexing of their listings and it is critical to do so.

Listing all of your citations on a page on your website is an interesting idea. However, I might recommend using a business listing company that indexes their citations/listings when they create them in the first place. That would save you the trouble of doing it yourself.
 
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I haven't actually explored citation indexing. Putting a page together on your site is an interesting idea, I'm sure it would work. The main thing I wanted to point out though... that article was written by Casey Meraz. He absolutely knows what he's talking about, so while I wouldn't take the website page linking to citations idea as the gospel best practice for ensuring citations are quickly indexed, at the very least you can trust that this is an expert sharing his thoughts on an issue worth talking about.

The only danger I can think of with this strategy, is that you'd risk adding a page to the site that's only for Google, not for humans. If you can frame the page in a way that makes sense for humans that stumble across it too though, then you're fine.
 

Josh Gill

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Thomas, did you have success with this by chance? I just tried this on my site as I have 20-30 good citations that aren't indexed in Google. It is taking a while for the citation links to show in the index still even though I have fetched the page in search console and linked to it in the footer and it has been crawled and added to the index itself. Thanks.
 

Yan Gilbert

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That's a good way to get Google to crawl the links, but it still doesn't mean they will be indexed.

They will have more chance of being indexed if they have different content on the pages or are filled out completely with added images etc..

If the citation service is sending the same text to every citation, there's a much higher chance it won't be indexed.
 

JoshuaMackens

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At this point, your listings are better of being crawled than nothing at all.

We don't know how Google assigns value to citations. Do they value citations that are indexed higher? Maybe. Do they value ANY citations they find? Maybe.

But if your listings are unknown period, you can't get credit.

I wouldn't be discouraged about them not being indexed. Just get them crawled.

Apart from writing a unique description for each listing, there's not much you can do to get your listings indexed after they're crawled. Most citation sites are such crap that the ads, poor content that is on every page will affect your citation page as well and push it out of the index possibly.

Just give yourself a chance by having your listings crawled. That's all any of us can do :)
 
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@Yan Gilbert you raise an interesting point! That is, crawling and indexing are different, and the former does not guarantee the latter.

That raises another question in my mind: does a listing have to be indexed to help with local SEO?

David Mihm's 2008 post about citations being the new backlink was a real eye-opener for me. Specifically, the idea that a citation without a link to your website still helps local SEO. It's not about the backlink; it's the mention of your business that reinforces Google's confidence that your business exists and thus carries local SEO value.

The idea seemed pretty wild the first time I heard it. But now it makes total sense. And that's why I'm open to unfamiliar, new ideas about how Google functions.

So, is it possible that Google doesn't index lower quality citations but still uses them to determine rankings?

I put the question to Bill Slawski on Twitter, to see if he had seen anything in the patents. He replied that he hasn't and called on John Mu to weigh in. Still waiting to hear...
 

Yan Gilbert

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It's certainly possible that Google knows the link is there but doesn't think it important enough to show in the results. Not sure how much power it would give at that point though.

Let's see if you get more than a vague response from John...

Another thing to check is the overall indexing of the site that you get the back link from. If you do a 'site:' search and it looks like only a fraction of the pages are indexed, it's an indication that most of the pages are not worthy, so why would you want to associate your link there.
 

Josh Gill

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So just a quick update on the progress of the indexing.

So I originally submitted the new webpage with the links on them to the citation sites 2 days before I posted here as they weren't being indexed but were being crawled (at least the page itself).

So after checking all 20 of the links on that page in the index, just in the past 24 hours 8 out of 20 have been added to the index. A number of the others are in the index but have duplicates I am working on removing also in the index so I am leaving them in the citation link webpage as I work on them.

Citations from domains that worked:
  1. Local.com
  2. Yellowbook
  3. Best of the Web
  4. Neustar/Localeze
  5. Infogroup
  6. Foursquare
  7. City Search
  8. City Squares
That leaves 12 left so we will see how those go. I think that following Darren Shaw's advice in this post helped. As I hadn't internally linked to the citation file as I did yesterday in the footer which perhaps correlates to the increase of sites indexed. Maybe a fetch and crawl was not good enough to get 20 links crawled on a page via search console vs an internal link.

Thanks for all the help, and I will keep this updated as I see if the rest get added over the next couple of days.

Here is the link to the page I created.. If I am going to leave it up it certainly needs some work, so don't judge :)

https://inboundauthority.com/places-to-view-us-on-the-web/

I have attached a PDF with the links to the site: searches to see if the citations are indexed as well.
 

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Josh Gill

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So today Superpages popped in as indexed in Google so the page of links is working pretty good. I think I will do this for the rest of my clients as well.

I will keep you posted on rankings improvements in the next week or two if any.
 
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Glad you're reporting on this Josh. I haven't tried it personally but have seen videos by Darren Shaw @ Whitespark and Britney Muller @ MOZ talking about this concept. I'm interested in seeing the results.

I was thinking about building a web page that lists citations, as you have done, and not linking to it from any other page on my site. However, I would make sure it was in the sitemap so Google crawls it.

With no internal links pointing to it, it probably won't get indexed, which is actually ideal! But being on the sitemap, it should get crawled and send Googlebot off to the citations you want indexed. Seems like a win-win.

Has anyone tried that?
 

Josh Gill

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Stefan, I hadn't thought about that but that is a good idea. I don't think I plan to leave this page on the site after this test as I don't see its real value besides getting the citations indexed once. But that method would be perfect to help keep them indexed over time.

I think I am too impatient and like to Fetch and crawl so I can see it fast :)
 

Josh Gill

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I wanted to provide an update on this test of getting citations indexed in case anyone else will find it useful. It has been about 15 days or so since I created a page on my site with links to all my major citations that were NOT indexed in Google.

After a couple days about 8 new ones had been added to the index.

Now, after 2-3 weeks a total of 21 of the 32 citations on that page of links has now been indexed. So roughly 3/4 of them.

Some of the sites that haven't been indexed are:
  • OpenDI
  • ZipLocalOnline
  • SaleSpider
  • YellowBot
  • Dexknows
  • JustDial
  • YellowPageCity (Shocker..)
  • LocalStack
Some citations good, some not so important. But I think the experiment showed that it can work well.

Now whether it will help or not, in the end, I am not sure. I am still tracking that.

If it did, it may be a fun idea for a simple tool to check the index for the top 40 citations and if you have them but they aren't indexed it could make an HTML page for you to add to your site to get them in the index..

Thoughts? Ideas? Worth a blog post or not?

Thanks!
 

JoshuaMackens

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Thanks for the update, Josh. Very encouraged to see that it worked pretty well!

When we were straight indexing through the Google tool, the number you're getting to (around 2/3) is the number we were able to get indexed as well.
 

JoyHawkins

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So I'm wondering what was the outcome of the citations getting indexed? Have you seen any direct impact on ranking or activity on the listing?

Thanks for keeping us updated on this experiment!
 

vivekrpatel

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Great experiment and idea, @Josh Gill.

This makes sense if we can see any direct impact on ranking. I think it would be a good idea to create an experimental blog post.

Thank you for letting us know on the progress that you have seen.
 

Josh Gill

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Sorry for the delay on an update. Somehow I wasn't getting notifications on this post.

So it appears there have been some rankings increase from getting these citations indexed but nothing earth-shattering.

I haven't been doing anything else worth noting to get rankings to go up on purpose during the time of this experiment.

Again, this may or may not be because of these citations being indexed, I don't know.

Also a disclaimer, I am not proud of these maps rankings results... I have neglected my own local SEO for a while in favor of being a one-man band working on 20+ other clients and that has started to change. Plus we moved 3 times and so cleanup of those citations that hasn't been fun. I am sure this audience will understand if anyone will! (tips on improvements welcome)

Local Falcon Results right as citations test began on 10/30:

local-seo-10-30-png.3414


And finally on 11/19:

local-seo-11-19-png.3415


Like I said, these rankings stink but they are an increase, especially in the outer bands of the results. For example top row, 6th from the right went from 13 to 7. Same in the bottom row 4th from the right went from 13 to 9.

I will keep an eye on this and if anything major changes in the weeks ahead I will update. But the bottom line seems to be that it doesn't hurt, may help, and could be a useful tool in cases where indexation of citations is low and could push you just over the next competitor in certain areas.

Imagine if you were a PI lawyer and this helped pushed you from 3 to 2 or even 1 in the proximity of a hospital if the other aspects of your listing were strong. One case a month could make a big difference, not just from the case but reduced ad spend, especially when click to call Google Ads are running $199 per call in this area for PI type queries.

local-seo-10-25-png.3413
 
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