Local Citation Management | Local SEO – Moz

There are three major options you can choose from for active location data management:

1.) Manual citation management

In this scenario, you manually build, edit, and manage all citations. To execute this well, create a database listing all existing citations, their accuracy, and their status.

You should correct inaccuracies and seek closure of duplicate listings. You must also frequently audit all citations in order to discover new citations that have been automated, new inaccuracies, and new duplicates that may have emerged, with the view of correcting them. You must be able to audit and update all citations in the case of moves, mergers, rebrands, or changes to phone numbers, hours of operation or other components. Finally, there should be a method of alerting you to new reviews for the purpose of management.

Who does manual management work for?

Manual management can be appropriate in two specific scenarios:

What are the pros and cons of this approach?

Pros of manual citation management include direct control over the company’s citations, not tied to any third party. Additionally, the company can choose to build citations on any platform that seems like a good match.

Cons include the extreme amount of time involved in manual active citation management. Even a brand-new single-location local business must be prepared to put in hours of initial and ongoing work. There are also risks inherent in a lack of experience or lack of organization. It’s easy to make costly mistakes building citations, and without proper organization, it’s easy to lose track of the existence and status of citations, resulting in further loss of time and the accidental proliferation of inaccurate/duplicate listings.

Finally, poorly funded companies may be unable to get listed on certain priority platforms due to associated costs, whereas some citation management services discount, ameliorate, or otherwise build these costs into the package pricing at a more reasonable overall rate.

2.) Semi-Automated Citation Management

In this scenario, you engage a service that automates the push of local business data to some platforms and then manually builds additional citations on platforms beyond the boundaries of the automated data push.

Who does semi-automated management work for?

This approach to citation management can be a good fit for small-to-large businesses, if the price is appropriate and the quality of the service is high. Many of these services charge a set fee per citation, so it’s important to carefully research what you’re signing up for prior to purchase.

What are the pros and cons of this approach?

Depending on pricing, semi-automated citation management can offer a wide variety of citation platforms to choose from, including those that apply to specific industries and geographies. Instead of being obliged to build these supplementary citations manually, the company can pay the service to undertake the work.

On the negative side, costs can become prohibitive and some semi-automated services pad their offerings by providing listings on directories of questionable quality. It’s extremely important for companies to know that they’re making an investment in something of value, rather than in busy work that doesn’t ultimately contribute to the rankings, reputation, or revenue of the business.

3.) Automated Citation Management

In this scenario, you typically purchase a service, enter your business data, and then that data is automatically pushed out to a set number of platforms with no further effort on the part of the business owner. Moz Local is an automated solution of this kind.

Please note that not all automated solutions are equal. Their pricing, network of partner platforms, dashboard, capabilities, tools, and features make each of these services unique, necessitating serious research before signup. For example, you’ll want to know whether a platform you’re considering permanently closed duplicate listings (as Moz Local does) or simply suppresses them, and you’ll want to look for studies indicating what may happen to your local business citations should you cancel the service.

Who does automated management work for?

While automated citation building is appropriate for businesses at all levels, it’s particularly useful in the following scenarios:

What are the pros and cons of this approach?

Automation massively reduces the time spent managing citations. The Moz Local team has discovered that the average enterprise has between 3,500–10,000 duplicate local business listings. Manually addressing this problem would require that a business allocate 44 weeks of the work year to this task, making the need for automation obvious! Additionally, high-quality solutions provide helpful dashboards which control, track, and analyze local business data, giving brands and agencies a true competitive advantage.

The cons of automated solutions come down to pricing, quality, and limitations. Price varies widely, and each company must determine whether the value outweighs the investment. Quality is also a difference-maker when it comes to choosing solutions. Read articles and reviews of each service you’re considering and acquaint yourself with their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, each platform will have its limitations; for example, the number and quality of the partners they will list your business on. More isn’t always better, as we’ve mentioned above. Be sure the solution you’re considering isn’t bulking up their offerings with low-quality directories. Choosing an active location data management partner requires making a fully informed decision.

How many citations does a business need?

There’s no standard answer to this question. Your goal should be to accrue enough high-quality citations to surpass your competitors, both in local search rankings and in your overall visibility across the web. A bakery in a small town in Iowa may need just 20 solid citations to become dominant, whereas an auto dealership in Los Angeles will understandably need to build and earn far more citations than that to lead the pack.

While each business will want to accrue a robust set of accurate citations, it is wasteful to go overboard on this, building citations on irrelevant, low-quality directories simply for the sake of numbers.

Bear in mind that while citations are a major local search ranking factor, they are just one of several hundred factors believed to influence rankings. The amount of funding and time you invest in citation management should be determined by the competitiveness of your industry. Allocate appropriate resources to other areas of marketing too, such as content development, link earning, and social media engagement.

Never purchase citation management services from anyone that guarantees an improvement in search engine rankings. While experts agree that citations influence rank, no one can actually guarantee how much they will influence the search engine results particular to your industry/geography.

Why is ongoing citation management necessary?

Even if you operate a single-location business in a small town and have zero plans to move, change phone numbers, hours of operation, or other data, management of citations is not a set-and-forget task. Here’s why:

Even the simplest business models must be aware of and actively manage their citations. In more complex scenarios (multi-location, multi-practitioner, enterprise), ongoing active location data management is a necessity.

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