This recent online marketing technique is the ultimate solution to almost 90% of local business owners who are seeking ways to brand their businesses in the local market and enhance local SEO results without violating any search engine protocols.
Simply put, local citations refer to online mentions of your business name alone or with your address and phone number on local directories, classifieds, blogs, email newsletters, or websites.
These mentions may or may not have any links. If performed strategically and diligently, local citations can add immense value to any business.Why are local citations powerful?
Types of Local Citations
There are two types of local references – structured and unstructured. Structured local mentions are those that are added to business listing sites, such as local classifieds, review sites, and yellow pages.
Unstructured local references are those which are added to blogs, websites, and government sites. Both structured and unstructured local citations play an essential role in improving your local business rankings in the search engines.
The more times your business gets mentioned, the higher it will rank. You can analyze the patterns with a local citation analysis tool to help you create powerful mentions for optimal results.
1. Know the difference between links and citations
One common mistakes most business owners do is confuse local citations with links. These two are different – citations are basically intended for branding, while links are for conversions.
Citations do not have to carry any link, although links may be added to them, and they are used primarily for increasing online prominence. On the other hand, links are particularly intended for cross-linking other websites with yours.
If you want to fully understand the basics of internet marketing, you can sign up for SEO Training.
2. Make sure all information are correct and use a consistent format
It is important that your SEO citations contain accurate information about your company and that they appear in the same format in all the different business listing sites.
Seeing consistency on your local citations in popular sites will give your target audience an impression of professionalism and committed approach.
3. Avoid duplicate listings
Focus on building identical citations for your business across different listing sites. Remove any duplicate listings of your business on other sites. Having more than one citation showing different addresses, phone numbers, or names can cause uncertainty and affect the credibility of your business.
Perform regular follow ups with the listing sites and update your listing with accurate information or delete duplicate listings to ensure better user experience.
4. Choose the right categories
The key to success for any business is in selecting relevant citations that will lead target customers searching for your products or services straight to your business.
When you incorrectly tag your services or products under the wrong categories, your rankings get hurt. Instead of being visible to people who are searching for your products or services, your target audience only sees your competition.
5. Integrate key informationIncorporate key information such as images, videos, and special offers, to add interest and motivate potential customers to your business. Adding these to your listing brings in more value to your business and creates trust among your target customers.
Your content is one of the greatest tools you have at your disposal, from a marketing point of view. It gets your name out there, attracts attention, bring in regulars, markets your brand, builds your authority, connects you to other experts… you would be hard pressed to find a way it wouldn’t be helpful. Having a consistent, high quality blog can launch your entire career, and turn a hobby into a money making venture.
But how does it rank with the content of your competitors? Competitor blog audit involves gathering data that allows you to compare your work with someone else’s, or to get a feel for what your target audience is looking for in a successful blog. It is something that every blogger should be taking part in regularly; to make sure they are constantly evolving with the needs of their potential readers.
Step 1 – Determine Your Competition
While you may be able to get some idea of what people are reading by looking at the biggest industry blogs on a topic (such as TechCrunch or Gizmodo, for example), chances are that you are nowhere near their level of visibility. Maybe someday you will be, but for right now you should focusing on websites that are more direct competitors.
Put as few as three on this list, and as much as five. If after you have made this list you feel the need to put some big names on there, one or two could be added. Just keep in mind that these big names will be best case scenarios for the future, as a goal in mind. When comparing their data, it should be as part of a longer term strategy, with the bulk of your information coming from the direct competitors to start out with.
Helpful tool: Use BuzzSumo to find recently active and successful blogs on any topic!
Step 2 – Look At What Content They Provide
Not all blogs are all about text blog posts. Multiple media forms is just a part of an overall, well rounded content strategies on the web today. Look and see what your competitors are doing on a regular basis. Infographics? Podcasts? Videos? Slideshares? Mini clips, like Vines? Comics? Are they specializing in one or two, or have they branches out into every niche possible?
Helpful resource: Here’s an easy guide to understand blogging easier
List all content under each name, and see what sites have what media in common. You should be able to narrow down what is working and what isn’t based on who is trying what.
Step 3 – Figure Out What Is Popular In Each Media Type
It is pretty simple to get an idea of what is bringing in the most benefits for your competitors blogs. SEO ranking is part of this, but we will look at that in another step. Right now, you should be looking at their engagement.
Helpful resource: Give this tool any blog RSS feed and it will pull out recent articles and their social media numbers
Comments, social media shares, and referral traffic present a clear picture of how people are reacting to those topics, the tone of the post, and the media style. Take a collection of links to the most engaging content on those sites, and include it in your spreadsheet.
Step 4 – Start Sorting Out The Most Popular Posts In Each Category
Take the links you are finding, and start sorting them into categories by media type, topic, or style. That will give you a look at what is working most for each site. Note any patterns that begin to emerge, where the sites have data in common. If three of your five competitor blogs are getting a lot of engagement on posts that include infographics, but not a lot on audio podcast downloads, that should tell you something.
Helpful tool: Our Social Media Tool will process lots of links for you and return helpful social media stats and author details:
You can also start to compare these links to your own content, to see what it has in common (or doesn’t) with your own posts. This process is excellent for pointing out things you may have been doing wrong, or just not quite nailing down.
Step 5 – Look At Competitor’s SEO Tactics
Finally, you want to know how people are driving traffic through direct searches. That means taking a look at the keywords they are properly exploiting, and those they aren’t.
You may be able to find some keywords they aren’t targeting, and take advantage of those ones yourself. Or find some keywords that you should be pushing for, as pushing past their SEO rank is an easy way to start getting more traffic.
What To Do With The Data
Essentially, this is just a way to seeing what is working for others, and what isn’t. How you choose to use it is entirely up to you. You could either start to focus on the same topics and media types that they are, or you could go the alternative route and start to focus on the areas that they are lacking. Both have a chance of improving your content strategy, and so boosting the popularity of your site.
Personally, I prefer to use it more loosely. I will see what topics or content get the most mileage, but will try and find a way to incorporate that into my own interests and work. Never forget that while you are auditing your competitors to see how they are improving their own success, you don’t want to copy them. You have your own strengths, your own readers, and your own style. You want to be easy to distinguish from the rest of the crowd.
You should be conducting a competitor audit at least once every few months. It just lets you keep an eye on rival sites, as well as find opportunities to connect with others, or get warning when something on your own site needs to change. As you can see, the positives are endless.
Do you have any tips for conducting competitor blog audits? We would love to hear about them, so let us know in the comments!
Welcome to 2015!
A new year is a good time to try something new (especially given that Q1 is usually a slower quieter time for many marketers!) Is there any tactic you are planning to try this year?
Here’s some inspiration for you!
Jolynno: Video Marketing + Podcasting
Yes, I currently use Instagram marketing and Facebook primarily. I plan to use video marketing in 2015 paired with podcasting. I think these 2 mediums are gaining in popularity and offer a more personal way to connect to my audience.
As for podcasting, I want to offer my blog posts as podcast sessions and see how I can then grow that to a regular podcast broadcast. Video marketing is an affordable and easy way to build rapport and share information and tips. I have only done a few videos in 2014 but want to expand upon this in 2015. I also plan to have several webinars as well so I can have a more immediate connection with my audience. This will also help me to grow my email list which is big goal for me next year.
Steve Counsell: Maximize Personal Branding
For a while I have been bouncing back and forth between a company based brand and a personal brand. In 2015 I will start to maximize on my personal brand but moving all of my efforts into my personal website and writing an ebook on DIY SEO.
To get started I have committed to blog every day through January and to finalise the first draft of my ebook in the next few days.
Creating a buzz around a brand has been a challenge but I feel that by pushing content out there and publishing it on social media and links building I’ll succeed in my goal of launching “Me” as a brand for online promotion.
I’ve watched other do the same, people like Brian Gardner and Ryan Deiss seem to be very good at pushing their own brand through CopyBlogger and DigitalMarketer.
I aspire to be like these guys – eventually…
Cormac84: “Skyscraper Technique”
I’ve already made the decision to create a lot more content for my site in 2015 and this led me to think what’s the best way to create long form content that will work well for me. So, after some thinking and some research I decided that Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique is one that works well and will help me achieve a lot of my goals.
It’s quite simple, just find a great piece of content on someone else’s blog and make a far better one again. Follow this up by reaching out to those already linking to the good piece, informing them about the existence of your even better piece. This startup resources page is a great example of something that can do very well with this technique.
For me it means long form content, more on-site blogging and hopefully more great links.
Jared Banz: More Focused Content Marketing + MyBlogU
I am not trying any new tactics per se for 2015, but I do plan to bring them together better. Content marketing was huge for 2014, and I think it will continue to be important in 2015. I plan to have a focused approach in my content marketing efforts as I know the competition will be fierce.
What do I mean for a “focused approach”?
I plan thoroughly research local SEO and interview other professionals through MyBlogU. Once I have researched the topic at length, I will likely write an e-book, which will likely be a revised version of multiple blog posts that I write. I also plan to explore new venues (for me) like SlideShare and YouTube to leverage the content I have already produced. Finally, I plan to offer professional services for local SEO, which I believe to be a hot item in the coming year.
I believe that this is a great approach because it involves other professionals and it helps me to become a master of a relevant topic. This past year, I utilized MyBlogU for one interview, and I was shocked by the amount of quality traffic that I received via social media to my blog post. I’m hoping to build on a great experience with MyBlogU, while also adding more opportunities for my business to grow.
Paul Manwaring: Video Marketing
For me it’s trying to create more engaging content through video marketing. I’ve seen an increase in bloggers venturing out into video such as Patt Flynn and Shane Melaugh. I personally enjoy watching a video post as opposed to reading an article.
I set myself a goal of producing 1 video post per week for my blog. Sometimes it will be a guide, other times it might just be a video version of an article I write. The idea is to give my readers the option of either watching or reading my content.
I have invested approx £1000 in studio equipment, it may seem like a lot but I want to produce very high quality videos as presentation is everything and no one wants to read an article on an ugly, poorly designed website, so I take the same viewpoint to my videos. It’s also partly my hobby being a designer and I really enjoy setting up the studio in my flat and recording and editing the videos. The equipment will last me for years so I’m not worried about the initial outlay, as I know it will pay off eventually.
Ashley Faulkes: “Commitment” Marketing
There is a great marketing tactic that I have been meaning to try and 2015 is the year for it! It is based on a psychological principal called “commitment” (which I am currently reading about in a book called Influence – I recommend you read it). The idea is this, by getting a customer to buy something from you, anything really, even something really small, they have made a commitment to a relationship with you.
Sounds simple and maybe even worthless, but the results can be amazing. By getting someone to commit to something, their psychology changes and they behave in a way that makes them live up to this commitment. The result is that they are far more likely to buy from you in the future, even a lot more expensive things. All sorts of companies do this on a daily basis.
I first saw this in action on SuperFastBusiness.com, a marketing site that I follow and podcast I listen to. The owner James Shramko is super experienced in sales and marketing and has loads of ideas to learn from. This was one of them. He sells a cheap SEO website check, a small commitment, and all the rest of his services are usually 10x more at least. He is running a 7 figure business that is constantly growing, so I am sure this works.
So this tactic is being rolled out on my websites in 2015. Let’s see how it goes!
Jeffrey Romano: Visual Content
One tactic that I’m planning to implement in 2015 is upgrading the quality of the visual content on my blog. Instead of using normal stock photography, I’m planning on creating blog post covers and I’d like to generally be more creative with the photos I have available. I believe this will add to the quality of the posts plus it will help when I share my posts on social mediHaving nice visuals to accompany posts when sharing on Pinterest, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter helps to increase the CTR when sharing. Furthermore, it would help the credibility of my brand and help differentiate my blog from others in the Internet Marketing/WordPress space.
Two bloggers that have inspired me to improve my visuals are Regina from byregina.com and Andrea Beltrami from www.thebrandedsolopreneur.com. Both of them have great blog post covers which helps their posts stand out when shared. Particularly on Pinterest. Both bloggers also try to include many images in their blog in order to introduce variety in their content and keep readers engaged.
I hope the above answer is satisfactory Ann. If you have any other questions about this, please feel free to get back to me.
KenS: Short Fcebook-Friendly Videos
I’ve noticed a lot of mini-videos are appearing on Facebook these days. We have a pretty good FB following, but like most they tend to hang out on FB and not jump over to the site. Sooo… we are going to try a few of those short videos to get people to visit our site and blog. For example, I am going to put up a blog post about candy and cereal and to promote it I am creating a short video about my kids eating a bowl of candy (just like cereal). The hope is that the short video will push people to click on the link and see what else there it.
What new marketing tactic are you going to try this year?
Are you planning to try any new tactic (may be new to you, not overall new) to promote your site or your brand in 2015? Please share! Please share some example of who you were inspired / who you saw do it right!