How Do We Streamline the Citation Mayhem?


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Hi everyone,

I'd like to have a partly theoretical and partly practical discussion about citations from a slightly different perspective. There are a ton of articles out there that list "the most important citations," depending on the opinions and experiences of the writer. My personal favorite is from Whitespark. Most of them take a moment to remind us of the importance of duplicate suppression as well.

That all sounds great, but we continuously have conversations about the best way to handle all of the citations. I had a conversation with another local specialist this morning who mentioned that she had a local team who manages all citations manually. That is really fantastic, and I think that most of us would agree that that is the best option. However, it isn't possible for many of us. Some here are freelancers who handle every aspect of their clients' online marketing efforts. Others may simply not have a large enough local team to manage so many citations across a huge number of clients. So we find vendors to take care of some of this for us. Darren Shaw's Slideshare from Mozcon Local would lead some of us to believe that Moz Local is the best way to go as a basis, and then add local- and industry-specific citations to the best of our judgement.

I would agree with that last statement if it weren't for one small hitch: very few clients come on board with a totally clean slate. In fact, even though I use Yext to handle a ton of citations and suppress duplicates, I still do a local audit to find duplicates that Yext has either missed, or doesn't handle. The duplicate suppression, while imperfect, is a strong selling point for Yext IMHO.

So here's the discussion: If an SEO wants to manually handle citations, or even use a more basic vendor like Moz Local, but has somewhat limited resources, then how deep would you recommend delving? For example, we would all likely take as much time as we need to claim, verify, and update GMB's, as well as deal with the duplicates, but what if you found a duplicate on a site that wasn't high priority? Would you take the time to try to clean it up? Would you stop at YP? BOTW? HotFrog? Or would you fight to the bitter end, and try to get rid of duplicates on nobodycaresaboutthissite.com?

I don't truly believe that there is any such thing as 100% consistency in citation management, so I'm just curious to hear your thoughts.
 

Colan Nielsen

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So here's the discussion: If an SEO wants to manually handle citations, or even use a more basic vendor like Moz Local, but has somewhat limited resources, then how deep would you recommend delving? For example, we would all likely take as much time as we need to claim, verify, and update GMB's, as well as deal with the duplicates, but what if you found a duplicate on a site that wasn't high priority? Would you take the time to try to clean it up? Would you stop at YP? BOTW? HotFrog? Or would you fight to the bitter end, and try to get rid of duplicates on nobodycaresaboutthissite.com?

I don't truly believe that there is any such thing as 100% consistency in citation management, so I'm just curious to hear your thoughts.
Hi Dillon, great topic. If you square away the top 40 to 50 sites, plus some niche sites you should be fine.

Going beyond that is a waste of your time, and could be spent on more effective tasks.
 

Linda Buquet

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Yes Dillon, great discussion topic. Thanks for starting.

I'll Tweet to try to get some more opinions.

Is everyone with Colan on this, or do you have any other insights???
 
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Thanks Colan! I would definitely agree with that. But just to play devil's advocate for a second, I occasionally look at some of these top 50 lists and wonder just how important some of those are. Obviously they're important enough to make the top 50, but are 50 citations on these very general directories really going to make a larger difference for a client's local presence than, say, the top 30, giving more time to focus on the niche-specific directories?
 

JustinB

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How we do things at Bantamedia:
-We have an assistant build citations manually for clients; but we do use automation tools to find citation opportunities for clients

-We make sure GMB is set up and verified before building citations, no use starting before that's done

-Also before beginning citation building we do 3 audits:
1. Site audit
2. Competitor Audit
3. Citation audit


This allows us to:
1. Figuring out how our competitors are ranking
2. Match them 1 for 1 for good quality links
3. Look to see what citations are incorrect and needing to be corrected
4. We use an analogy, if you pour fine wine into a leaky glass, you won't be happy with the result, all your money down the drain. It's only after you plug the holes (bad citations and website errors) that you can start collecting what's valuable. This is our reason for a site audit.


-We keep a master list of citations grouped into different types of sites:
1. National Sites
2. Niche Sites
3. Geo-local Sites
4. Unstructured Citations
5. Competitor (may overlap the previous 4)​


-Cleaning up citations is about 80/20 almost; most you will, some you won't. Fixing duplicates can be a hassle, but we find that it isn't a huge factor that's booting people from local rankings.
 
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Thanks for the insight Justin. I really like that approach. It sounds somewhat similar to what we do, except that we start with Yext as a basis and expand from there. It really allows us to find and focus on the most important citations for each individual client.

I've sometimes found myself adamantly trying to handle duplicates and wondering if it was worth the time on some of the lower-priority sites, which also tend to be harder to deal with. So I find it very interesting that you sound like you aren't too concerned about these.
 
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Great question, Dillon, and the responses are great here as well.

I want to try to see if I understand the question fully, though, as it seems like there are really two different questions stitched together.

Question 1: "How many citations are really worth the time to complete?"

Question 2: "If citations and duplicates took very little time to manage, how could I better help my customers and exceed their expectations?"​

I believe that question 1 is incredibly varied depending upon the actual business. For a location that has only a few issues, very few duplicates, and is already ranking well, they may not need as much citation work. A law firm in a competitive field that changed its business name and replaces two or three partners every year is a whole different story. The data will be a mess, and you may want to go much deeper into citation-land. That said, I also think your comment on solving some niche vertical directories is excellent, particularly for some verticals.

At Yext, we try not to think of "how many" in a strictly quantitative way, instead trying to focus more on impact. We have a team that looks at the publisher/directory/app/map universe seeking to analyze and compare their potential impact. We turn away directories who want to be on the Yext network daily, because we cannot validate the additional benefit that some sites or citations provide.

So we agree, citation counts in the hundreds seem really foolish if they have no real value. I also cannot understand at all the perspective that "the more the merrier" will cause anything but a very unhappy duplicate and bad data situation down the road, because managing tons of crappy citations that eventually get crawled and fed back into the data ecosystem is just a recipe for disaster.

On the other hand, if the question you are asking is really more of Question #2, I would have to wholeheartedly agree that your time and energy can really make a bigger difference beyond creating, updating, managing and "fixing" citations.

It's always ironic to me, that in digital marketing (and quite frankly anything "digital"), we hear comments like "...most of us would agree that that [manual citations] is the best option..."

I don't agree, and I'm not sure "most of us" do either. If there was a way to control our customer's digital presence, at scale, and with instantaneous effect, I think most would agree that that is the best way to handle the problem of citations. My hope and efforts at Yext are to continuously improve the platform to free up more and more of our professional partners time to tackle bigger and better things. Obviously, we can't automate everything (certainly not great blogging communities included) but manual citation management seems to be quite past its time.

It is our mission at Yext to continue to improve the platform, add more features, and innovate new opportunities as quickly as we can so that professionals like everyone in this forum can really focus on the unique tactics and strategies to delight their customers.
 
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Manual citation building sucks, especially if you're the one doing it. I'll follow Colan's advice and say get the big ones out of the way, then don't worry as much. You also need to remember that most smaller sites you'll run into are either buying or scraping data from the larger sites. As long as you get the more reputable sites taken care of, you should see positive results down the chain (over time of course).

I recommend you really evaluate which parts you can outsource/automate, which are also cost effective for the business. Even if you hire someone entry level to do that work, you're paying the salary, taxes, insurance, etc... So the cost of having someone do that task for a few hours is actually a lot more costly than automating/outsourcing. If you're doing that work yourself instead of more detailed/technical work for a client then you're just wasting your time.

BrightLocal and Whitespark are affordable manual citations, and Moz Local & Yext have a lot automation/tech behind them. There are a few more out there, but I can't think of them at the moment. Do your research and find a good partner to work with for that work. Doing it yourself will destroy your margins
 

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