Local citations are critical for a successful local SEO campaign, but they can sometimes be a pain. If you’re working with a tight budget, limited resources, or a limited understanding of how local citations work, it can be nearly impossible to get everything done yourself.
When Google determines rankings for a local search, one of the most important factors it considers is each business’s information. Of course, Google needs to know your business’s location in order to evaluate whether it fits into the local search’s geographic criteria, but Google also takes your name and phone number into consideration. The accuracy of this information (your name, address, and phone number, known collectively as your NAP), is very important to Google. The search engine wants to bring the most consistent, accurate information possible to its users, and it rewards the sites and businesses that enable that consistency and accuracy.
To evaluate this, Google scours the web for information listings and local directories, searching for any mentions of your brand. If there are any discrepancies in information, such as a different phone number or a different format for your address, it can actively work against you. If you want to ensure the highest possible local search ranking and ensure your online audience is viewing your information accurately, you’ll have to check how your business is listed in each directory, and make any changes that are necessary.
It’s almost impossible to find every local directory on the web, and even more difficult to try and manage all those changes alone. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools available on the web that can help you not only track down where and how your business is listed, but also help you correct any potential errors. These five tools are some of the best we’ve found:
Yext has exploded in popularity since the Pigeon update in 2014 completely overhauled the way Google handled local searches. For free, you can enter your business name and phone number, and Yext will generate a report of all the places your business is listed on the web. This hits up major platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor, but also scours for those hard-to-detect nooks and crannies of the web. If you want them to fix the errors in your listings, you’ll have to sign up for a monthly service that’s billed annually—which you may or may not want to do depending on the size of your business and the budget you have allocated to local search. But the reporting tool is incredibly useful regardless.
WhiteSpark offers a more thorough local citation builder than Yext, as well as a management tool that helps you keep everything in order. However, it might be overkill if you’re only looking to fix the citations that are already out there. For as little as $20 a month, you can perform several keyword-based searches per day to discover where your business is or could be mentioned, and gain access to a dashboard that keeps track of all your efforts to list your business elsewhere. If you aren’t sure whether WhiteSpark is a good fit, you can sign up for a free trial and give it a test run.
The HOTH is known for link building service, but its local citation remediation is where the company really shines. With the HOTH, you won’t have to go through the struggle of reaching out to each local directory individually. You won’t even have to run a report and view the results. All you have to do is enter your correct business information, answer a few simple questions, and push a button. The HOTH will take care of everything else, correcting any citation errors they find online for a one-time fee of $350, which is more affordable than a prolonged monthly rate available through Yext or WhiteSpark.
BrightLocal’s citation tracker is a tool that helps you find all instances of your business across the web and easily audit your information. It’s similar to Yext in the sense that it generates a comprehensive report, highlighting any inaccurate or obsolete information that needs to be corrected. BrightLocal stands out by offering a competitive analysis, showing you where your competitors are listing their business, so you can encroach on their visibility or simply learn the most common practices for your industry.
PlacesScout is a local citation finder much like WhiteSpark, but it also has a competitive feature similar to that of BrightLocal. It also gives you a consolidated dashboard where you can manage and post online reviews, further improving your local SEO. It’s a comprehensive resource, but it’s also a bit on the pricey side, so if you’re a new business, you might want to consider a more inexpensive option to get things started.
Before you can start ranking for local searches, cleaning up your local citations is a must. If only half your information is accurate across the web, your domain authority could suffer and Google might not be able to determine your correct location. For small or emerging businesses, a one-time cleanup is more than sufficient to get everything in order. If you have multiple locations or a major enterprise, a monthly retainer to keep your information in line might be a better bet. Either way, check back occasionally to make sure your local citations are correct.