I have a little confession to make. I love Rand Fishkin from Moz. Yes, there is a little crush going on here! How can one not love that crazy 'stache? Besides having a little crush on Rand Fishkin, I think that Moz creates some great content around local SEO, and we constantly look to them for fresh new insights and some good old-fashioned research.
A few months back, Moz published their much anticipated 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors. Of course, I was elated to see that Reviews increased in their local search ranking factors by 21%. Do we see that dropping? Heck no! Just a few years ago, it was only around 8%. Go reviews! The study points out that Citations, aka Business Listings, lost some ranking juice by 22%. This was not a surprise to me at all, as we at WebPunch have been doing our own research and have written several blog articles confirming that our conclusions are the same.
So what is a Citation? Really, it’s just a fancy name for Business Listing. Here is a definition from Darren Shaw (I think he is pretty great, too!) at Whitespark.
“A local citation is any mention of your business on the web; it is any combination of your company name, phone number, address, zip or postal code, and website address.”
We often refer to a Citation as a Business Listing that includes the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) details for your business. In my opinion, the NAP details should be called NAPW as we think it is important to include the company’s website as well. But try saying “NAPW” as a word!
So what is a business or brand to do? Load your business to the data aggregators?
Or do you go with Yext and invest in some of their sexy Business Listing boosts called PowerListings? We don't think either option is bad—just know that we haven't seen any improvement in local search results when these services have been implemented. We do like that you can easily manage listings and have them aggregate to a ton of business listing sites. This is very attractive to agencies and businesses who manage a lot of accounts. Trust me, we test these solutions a lot at WebPunch with the hopes that it will solve some of our Business Listing optimization woes.
Since we are an Online Reputation Management (ORM) company, I find that I am constantly having to remind myself how business listings play into an overall Online Reputation Management Strategy. What are we trying to help businesses achieve? We want businesses to look like the obvious choice over their competitors. We want them to be the hot chick at the bar and not the lonely truck driver who's sitting in the corner.
Here are (6) factors that WebPunch considers when determining which business listings we should load a business to:
- Does the Site Have a High PageRank?
We like to load businesses to sites that have a PageRank of 6 or higher. Now, do all the sites we load to have this high of a PageRank? No. But we will typically load a business to the higher PageRank sites first before we move on to any of the other sites.
There are some good Chrome extension plugins that will give you the PageRank of a website (sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t). Do a Google search and you will find a good one to fit your needs.
- Does the Business Listing Show in Local Search Under Specific Keywords?
I think there is a ton of opportunity to look at Google Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) to see what sites are showing under a business name and keywords that are specific to its industry. If you are running a swim school in Denver, Colorado, this is how I would conduct some research (really, it should only take a couple of minutes):
- Search under your business name
- Search under “swim school denver co”
- Search under “swim instruction denver co”
- Search under “swim lessons denver co”
...You get the idea, I always try a number of combinations.
Typically, you will see a few sites over and over again in search. Most likely, these sites are ranking for your specific keywords and this is the reason they are showing on a Google page. Often times you will see Yellowpages.com. I know, what?! Yellowpages? Isn’t that the annoying company who would leave phone books on your doorstep once a year even though you called to tell them NOT to deliver to your address? Yellowpages.com is a force to be reckoned with and this is the reason they are on my “Tier 1” list. I say embrace Yellowpages.com, learn to love them, claim your listing, generate reviews on this site and respond to them.
- Is the Site an Industry Specific Site?
Ah, I love industry specific sites! If you are running an auto repair shop, look to sites such as RepairPal, Mechanic Advisor, AutoZone, CarFax etc. These types of sites will help Google see you as that hot chick at the bar I mentioned above. It takes some time to load to these sites and sometimes they charge for it, but I think they are gold.
- Do Consumers Know the Site and How Popular is it?
What we have noticed is this: consumers won’t post positive online reviews for a business if they are not familiar with the site (even if you ask them to!). Since we are interested in helping our clients generate positive online reviews, this factor is important to us. It’s also important to WebPunch, as we know that Google is looking at three things when ranking a business locally and its online reviews.
Diversity - Generating reviews on multiple review sites (not just Google and Yelp).
Velocity - How fast are you generating reviews for your business? Are they coming in on a regular basis or just trickling in?
Quantity - Currently, Google is ranking businesses on the quantity of reviews a business has and those with the highest star-ratings are winning!
- Does the Site Allow User-Generated Reviews?
Dominate your Google page with positive reviews from all the clients who love you! When a potential client is researching your business, show them that you are the obvious choice above your competitors. Show them that you look good not only on Google and Yelp but on every review site that is showing under your business name and any associated keywords. This strategy will make your wallet a little heavier at the end of the year and will make Google love you. Heck, WebPunch will be proud of your efforts too!
- Does the Site Allow for Business Owners to Respond to Reviews or Interact With Clients?
I think all signs are pointing to the fact that businesses who interact with clients online by responding to reviews and being social, are the brands who will rank higher in a local search. They will have an emotional connection with their client base and will knock out their competition (I had to get our tagline in there somehow!). In fact, every time we call Google about a business and they offer insight into helping the business rank higher, they tell us to generate and respond to reviews. I don’t think this advice is something to ignore and the reason that I put this point last. Show your clients gratitude by taking the time to thoughtfully craft a response to every review.
So, which sites that consider Online Reputation Management do we think are most important for you to load your business to? They are listed by “Tiers” below and have the PageRank of each site listed as well. Go ahead and take these Tiers and make them your own.
I hope this list helps and if you are interested on how we present our listings to our clients, I have included a link to our LLO guide (Local Listing Optimization Guide) in exchange for your email, because we want to keep you updated with the latest and greatest and we want to hear from you! Click the arrow below!
Oh! And don’t forget to clean-up those duplicates and Unofficial Facebook pages!
Tier 1 (These are sites with a high PageRank and allow for user generated content)
+Yelp - 8
+YellowPages.com - 7
+Apple Maps - 9
+Bing - 5
+BBB (Typically has to be claimed by the business owner and not an agency)
+Local Chamber Commerce (Typically has to be claimed by the business owner and not an agency)
+Facebook - 9
+Google+ - 9
+Foursquare - 9
+Nextdoor - 7
+Instagram - 9
+Pinterest - 9
+Snapchat - 6
+Houzz - 6
Employee Generated Review Sites (we can’t ignore employee-generated review sites and easy to show on search):
+Indeed - 8
+Glassdoor - 7
*Industry specific sites
Tier 2 - Important sites with a high PageRank
+Superpages - 7
+Angie’s List - 6
+Porch - 4
+Thumbtack - 5
+Yellowbot - 6
+Factual - 6
+Merchant Circle - 8
+Manta - 6
+LocalStack - 6
+Kudzu - 7
Tier 3 - These are sites that most people have not heard of and therefore most consumers will not visit them
+Citysearch - 6
+Insider Pages - 6
Tier 4 (these are all the sites that no one has ever heard of! There are more of these guys, but here are some of the most popular)
+Hotfrog - 5
+Brownbook - 4
+eZLocal - 4
+eLocal - 4