What a Successful Local Listing Citation Strategy Requires in 2015

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local-citation-strategyThe Local Listing Management team recently had the opportunity to join other local marketing thought leaders in and participate in BrightLocal’s 2015 Expert Citation Survey. As we prepared our contribution and read what others had to say, it gave us a great opportunity to take a step back and think about how the importance of local citations has changed in the past few years, and what this means for brands and companies moving forward.

It’s been fascinating to see how experts’ beliefs about citations have shifted since 2013, and the data provides important insights for local marketers everywhere. We have always felt that finding and optimizing the right citations is the foundation of an effective local strategy, but that citations are also only the beginning when it comes to creating a great local presence. One insight from the survey that really surprised me is that only 23 percent of respondents said that citations are more important than they were 12 months ago, compared to 44 percent of respondents in 2013.

Part of this might reflect a growing belief that the major search engines are genuinely relying more on signals like optimized local pages and social content instead of citations. However, I also think that this change shows that as local marketers have become more sophisticated, citation growth is no longer the simple, easy way to improve your local presence that it once was. Growing your local citations used to be an easy way to get a leg up on your competitors in local search, and citations were an obvious low-hanging fruit that could be quickly addressed. But as local strategies have developed and matured, a focus on only growing your citations will no longer keep you competitive.

I’m a firm believer that the quality of your citations has always been more important than the quantity, and the industry continues to share this opinion. In 2015, 71 percent of survey respondents said that quality is more important than quantity, compared to 64 percent two years ago. Taking a shotgun approach and jamming your listings on as many small sites and obscure directories as possible can’t compare to a thoughtful approach of fully reaching the right, high-quality sites with accurate information and compelling descriptions.

In addition to quality, I also believe that expanded content for your citations on the major local channels will become more important than ever in 2015. Consumers have come to expect expanded, rich content all over the web, and I believe that search engines will reward businesses and brands that take advantage of rich content at the local level.

On Google, we have already seen tremendous success with 360 degree virtual photo tours and high quality images being added to our clients’ listings. Content like these tours gives users an extra incentive to interact with the brand and this content helps drive sincere, qualified leads into local storefronts. Consistency of citations is only a starting point now, and it’s important to take advantage of all local opportunities to give your business an edge.

It’s clear that the local citation ecosystem has become more complicated than ever. A simple strategy of pushing out information to as many data aggregators as possible and hoping that your listing rank improves no longer cuts it, and you need a high-touch approach to be truly successful.

To set yourself apart from the local competition in 2015, you will have to go above and beyond raw citation growth. You will need wide reach for efficiency, but it’s also important to have savvy partners who know how to create expanded content and fully manage claimed listings on the most important channels. Local is becoming more advanced than ever, and increased marketer awareness in the space is directly translating to increased competition, meaning that you need to have experienced local experts and partners on your side if you want to truly succeed.

Photo Credit: Gerard Moonen

 

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