Now that we are reminded that marketing a business on the Internet follows traditional marketing principles, we know from organic search engine optimization that links are very important for ranking and now I am telling you that citations from highly relevant sources are also important. So I guess the question becomes what is the difference between a citation and a link. Let’s take a look.
Citations are merely Web references of the company in question. When referencing a company online, there are certain pieces of information that are important to reference such as the company name, it’s address and its unique local phone number. We learned this was a N .A .P. for name, address, and phone number.
On occasion, search engines and these data providers collect information from public sources and while it’s not as important to ensure that these public sources are accurate, is worthy noting that when dealing with these other sources that you provide them with identical NAP information. For example, when a business requires a business phone number from the local telephone provider, typically they automatically receive insert into their Yellow Pages and upsell ad space. The information provided to the telephone provider should be exactly the same as you would in your Google places account. This is a source of information for Google that they trust.
Following is a list of data providers that search engines pull information from, because as we’ve discussed Google Places is merely data aggregator. While there are other data providers evidence has clearly indicated that these are the top data providers that Google pulls is information from in these following seven data providers you should check and ensure that the formatting of your NAP is identical from provider to provider.
Major Search Engines
- Google Places
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Local
- Facebook Places
Major Data Providers
Secondary Data Providers & Portals
- Best of the Web Local
- Merchant Circle
- Angies’ List
- Judy’s Book
- Geo Directories
- Theme Directories
- AOL Local Search
On occasion, search engines and these data providers collect information from public sources and while it’s not as important to ensure that these public sources are accurate, it’s worth noting that when dealing with these other sources that you provide them with identical NAP information.
These other sources may include company annual reports, SEC information, federal state and city governments, various business magazines, newspapers and local publications, and Postal Service information.
Of course these public sources are typically for larger firms. As an internal rule of thumb, when a client provides us with over $1000 per month in revenue, we will look at public sources.
- Annual Reports
- depending on the state, once a business reaches certain revenue mark, or if the business is public, annual reports are published. This is good content to get exposed and perhaps the company blog or a partner’s blog. The annual report should be available for download in PDF format and the business NAP should remain consistent.
- SEC Information
- The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation. Located at sec.govis a website to acquire information about a business. Confirm listings here and NAP.
- Federal, State and City Governments
- When registering your company, you must have it registered with the state, feds and your local business directories. Confirm your NAP in all of these sources.
- Business Magazines
- Industry and theme magazines are always looking for theme related high quality content.These are sources you can create positive content to help your online exposure.
- Local Newspapers & Local Publications
- In the next video, we’re going to uncover how to find and look for local newspapers and publications to get your content published in.
- Postal Service Information
- Ensure the post office is using the same NAP that you have established.
Local search engines
The search engines crawl each other to find citations that will validate or correct the business information in their own database. Additionally, some engines and data share information with each other typically through a data leasing arrangement or syndication.
For example, you’ll frequently see a business’s Yahoo Local profile show up in the ‘Web Pages’ tab of its Google Places Listing. There are other second-tier portals that show up frequently as well, such as dexknows.comand Yelp.com
Local blogs are a great place to get a business listed. These vary by geography, but if you simply perform a search on your favorite engine for “[geomod] blog,” you’ll see good candidates. Please reference the organic search engine optimization videos on more methods to use the search engines to find theme or local blogs. You can also just use your GeoMod for a standard search in Google and choose the ‘blogs’ option on the left. Play with this a little, and note the blogs that show up on the top, and stay on the top of the listings when changing the date range. For example, if you search for ‘all time’ and switch to only the last week and find the same blog, chances are this a highly indexed, popular blog.
The blogs that show up for these kinds of searches are generally very well-indexed by the search engines, and highly associated with a particular neighborhood, city, or region. Businesses that are mentioned or linked on these blogs are viewed as trusted, relevant results in the Local search engines.
Like Local blogs, Local directories are well-indexed by the search engines and are highly associated with a particular city or region. Directories which are edited by a human are much better than those which are built around an algorithm where anyone can enter information. Human-edited directories are less susceptible to spam, and are therefore more trusted by the search engines. Best of the Web’s Regional Directoryand Yahoo’s Regional Directoryare two human edited trusted sources. You can perform searches for things like “[geomod] directory” to find good prospects for these kinds of citations.
Theme Based Sites
There are many different ways to acquire authority based theme related exposure on a variety of different sites. For example, most industries have niche-based or industry associations. These associations have opportunities for memberships, typically have online social sites or forums and many have different social media feeds. Participating in these conversations will provide your business with exposure. If you ever get written about, or be one of the faces in the crowd, these theme related authority sites may publish something in your regards. This obviously ties into PR campaigns as previously discussed when putting together a full execution strategy. Do a search for [THEME Social] or [THEME Forum], such as [dentist forum].
Theme Related Citations
When discussing theme related pages, the same principles and strategies taught in Organic Search Engine optimization for theme related directories and data providers will absolutely apply in this case. A search engine is merely referencing the citation rather than a link if you had the opportunity to acquire that link.
Theme related directory for a particular dentist as an example would be a website www.findadentist.com. Sometimes these sites require paid inclusion and this should never be confused with paid money for a link, because you are paying for inclusion into the directory and may or may not get a link.
And finally this leads into theme related authority exposure. There are many different ways to acquire authority based theme related exposure on a variety of different sites. For example, most industries have niche-based or industry associations. These associations have opportunities for memberships, typically have online social sites or forums and many have different social media feeds. Participating in these conversations will provide your business with exposure. If you ever get written about, or be one of the faces in the crowd, these theme related authority sites may publish something in your regards. This obviously ties into PR campaigns as previously discussed when putting together a full execution strategy.
Blogs and Directories
If a website, blog or directory is not focused on a particular geographical region and if that website is focused on topics and keywords related to the audience in question, it is likely a theme related site. For example, take the same day delivery business. There is a social site on the NING network called ‘Couriers of the World”. The dental industry has Facebook groups, forums and online discussions. the membership directory of your trade organization, or a blog that is popular among readers in your industry will likely be crawled by the Local search engines for citations. Searches like “[geomod] directory” or even “[theme keyword] directory” will give you some ideas of the kinds of sites on which to get listed. Try [theme blog] as well. Reference the organic SEO section for more search phrases.
Social media marketing is the art of using different types of mediafor social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.
Essentially, the greater reach with influencers with your content, the greater trust and authority is assigned to that citation source.
Take for example any local greasy spoon restaurant. Guy Fieri is the host to diners, drive-ins and dives, food network’s unique television show with a crazy dude the sunglasses and a spiked white hair. What if he came by this local greasy spoon and provided a positive review, either tweeted about it or left a comment on Facebook. One would think as a micro-celebrity that review should have a greater impact than other reviews because he is a well-known food connoisseur and hosts his own food television show. Search engines are looking at many factors to evaluate social profiles in determining relevance and authority for reviews and citations. Therefore some additional factors that should be added to this list could be a user’s frequency and geographical footprint pattern to determine the validity of that review or citation.
Thus, using social media as a form of marketing has taken on whole new challenges. It is most effective if marketing efforts through social media revolve around the genuine building of authority. Someone performing internet marketing for a company must honestly convince people of their genuine intentions, knowledge, and expertise in a specific area or industry through providing valuable and accurate information on an ongoing basis.
There are many ways authority can be created and influence can be accomplished such as: participation in Wikipediawhich actually verifies user-generated content and information more than most people may realize. Try providing valuable content through social networks on platforms such as Facebookand Twitter. When you create an article for SEO, tweet it. When a new blog post is created, post a link on Facebook.
Your goal is get the information shared on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. If a friend or follower shares your information, each share is a citation. The more shares, the busier the restaurant looks to Google and therefore it’ll assign trust towards the business in question.
As a result of social media and the direct or indirect influence of social media marketers consumers are more likely to make buying decisions based on what they read and see in platforms we call “social” but only if presented by someone they have come to trust. That is why a carefully designed social media strategy has become an integral part of any internet marketing plan. This influences both conversion and driving traffic.
Many restaurants have gained success by engaging into this game with their audience and assigning discounts or online only deals.
Consider this. A coupon in a newspaper. As a marketer it’s not about reducing the profit but a coupon is meant to increase the volume. What is really messed is the value in the brand of that coupon. I would never keep an advertisement for business but if it’s good to get me a free soda next time I get a pizza I will keep that paper indefinitely in my drawer. Every time I open a drawer I see their brand. For this reason we have to rethink the coupon and social media.
As an example, by offering rewards for those that have gained mayorship from foursquare or yelp is a way to encourage repeat business and provide a perception of a certain culture. You can make this fun and in turn you have whole bunch of prospects and customers that are regurgitating and sharing all of your information on their favorite social networks.
Consider creating some viral content. An insurance company might want to discuss the last five years of the rising levels of the local river and their thoughts and implications for what could happen to the town if nothing is done. Maybe this video would be an exaggeration but they could talk about certain buildings that are wiped out. This would create fear in our community and awareness towards this rising river. The author, a local insurance company, would then in turn increase their exposure whether people agree with them or not. This exposure is recognized by the search engines.
One of my clients, a taxi service in Chicago, is including their QR code in the back seat of their taxi. They encourage their customers to scan this code with their smart phone and share their experience in this Online. People are uploading pictures of themselves, leaving reviews and rating an army of links back to my client site. We are not getting the citations or links ourselves, but we are using the power of social media to generate this exposure.
In the past, we have created new Wikipedia pages and send the content sources to authorities in the industry that we know would appreciate it. They in turn share this new valuable information with their friends and followers and give credit to the author, the business in question. Yet another way to generate citations from users
as you can see I can simply just go on and on with a variety of different strategies for social media to acquire links and citations. You must really understand your audience and dig deep to uncover new ways for your audience to enjoy engaging in a conversation related around your business. Once you’ve discovered this, identifying and implementing a certain strategy for your client or your business is the easy part.
It is not that difficult to devise a PR strategy with local newspapers and publications to run content that sites the business in question both in the off-line in the online world and this is a very high authority citation for any local business.
For example, finding and joining local networking groups is not that difficult to get business citation as a member of one of these websites and having the search engines index this information and assign authority and credibility to the business in question.
One often overlooked opportunity for local businesses in the online world is to identify joint ventures with other businesses that serve similar audience. For example chiropractor’s, massage therapists and dentists could all very easily share their patient database with one another. By identifying local theme related businesses that you can create partnerships with and joint ventures with, having other local businesses cite your business on their website and their pages is relatively easy to accomplish.
In the case of your Internet marketing agency, a credit card processing firm as an example of an excellent JV. We are both going after the same audience and there was nothing, both direct and indirect, that would be perceived as competition.
Identifying volunteer and donation opportunities through local and theme charities is an excellent opportunity to give a little bit to the community and in turn get referenced online.
Again, this comes down to your audience profiles. By understanding the audience in question, and where they are hanging out on the Internet, will give us great insight into understanding which sites we may want to work with and create a potential partnership with.
In marketing principles, competitive research is an extremely important stage in the marketing planning process. The more we can understand about the rights and wrongs of the direct and indirect competition, the better we can position ourselves to market our business or our clients.
Therefore, we are going to take a look at the citations acquired by the competition.
First, let’s take a look at what Google might see on our competition. Refer to your competitive research list, which is taught in the Marketing Principals section. You will need your competitive research completed and your strategy map for this exercise.
Do a search for your number one keyword and take a look at the results. Identify who you’re top organic and local competitors are and document them on your competitive analysis excel file, including their full NAP and any NAP variations. Then do a Google search for each of their NAPs and variations of their NAP, such as address, business name and DBAs. Scout the top three pages for relevant sources!
In your competitive research file that I hope you have for every one of your clients, list the URL of all your main competitors. Visit each one of those sites and make a determination of whether or not this is a citation that you can acquire. Once you accomplish this step set strategies in motion to contact these sites to acquire the citation. Some of these sites will be different portals, review sites, local and theme blogs and some will not fit into any of these categories. These are citations that you need not acquire.
Local Directories, Publications, Networking Groups
By joining the Chamber of Commerce or different local networking groups is not that difficult to get business citation as a member of one of these websites and having the search engines index this information and assign authority and credibility to the business in question.
I suggest taking that businesses chamber logo and attaching it to the businesses website with a single one-way link to identify from a user value perspective at that local business participates in local networking groups and supports the community.
I joined my chamber of commerce for $20 per month. This is a no-brainer to me for any business to get listed and get a highly trusted citation.
I started a NING social platform for my niche. What about Facebook groups centered on your community? What about parenting forums if your client is a local restaurant?
Think about the business and reference your audience profile sheet. When considering the audience character traits, perhaps dental patients in Vancouver, Canada, consider what’s important to them.
Ok, so this dentist we’re assuming has positioned themselves around preventative maintenance, rather than say cosmetics, such as teeth whitening. Their patients are those who make an effort to get their teeth cleaned, what to do the work to keep them white and healthy. Being in Vancouver, they’re all health nuts, try and find a greasy spoon and it’s hard. It’s all about salads and weed, odd place.
What do stoned health nuts do online? Well, first I’d start by following some of these people. Twitter search makes this easy to find followers.
Then I’d follow the links they are all talking about. I’d start to collect all these location sites and document them over time. After a few weeks of this system in place, I’ll have a great idea of where these people frequent. Everyone on the social sites likes to share information. This information is valuable when trying to understand where our target audience is hanging out.
Non-Conventional Citation Ideas
- Start Hosting Parties and Events
- Get a Redbox or ATM at your business
- Free Wi-Fi
- Sponsor local events like festivals or charity events
- Check in deals with Foursquare, Google+, Groupon or Facebook
- Install a weather monitoring station
- Add a cellular antenna to your property.
- Install a Webcam.