How This Test Began
On October 22th, 2018, I was searching for information on this very topic while working on my own business citations.
I had moved Inbound Authority three times in five years and there were bad NAP inconsistencies and I knew it was time to clean things up.
I had BrightLocal submit a data aggregator update a few months prior and so I started to check those listings to see how they looked.
After I realized that there were a lot of duplicates, I started doing a site:search in Google for each listing to see if I could find my citations in Google’s index.
I moved on to using the info:search operator in Google and found that 20-30 of my citations from top sites were not in their index.
I was bummed out that I had paid for these updates to the data aggregators and had gotten the top 20 or so good citations fixed but they weren’t even in Google.
I stumbled upon this nice article by Casey Meraz from Juris Digital citing some work that Darren Shaw had done back at MozCon in 2016 which was similar to what I was trying to accomplish. In addition Darren had suggested this more specific hack.
I loved Casey’s suggestion on how to go about getting these citations indexed and so I set out to try it.
It had some nice ideas and suggestions to Thomas MyLocal’s question in the post and I wanted to take it a bit further and try to get some conclusive results.
The Citation Indexing Test Begins
I started by creating on my site a “Places to View Us on The Web” page as was suggested.
This page was nothing fancy and still isn’t.
I then fetched it as Google in Search Console and waited.
Nothing amazing after a few days happened.
So, I added the link to my footer and had Google fetch the homepage and crawl all links. A couple days later, 9 out of the 20 citations on my new page had been added to the index.
The ones that made it in were:
Some of these were Data Aggregators so that was a good thing.
A week or two goes by and I check it again. By this time I had added 12 more citations to the initial 20 on my page of links, bringing the total to 32.
21 of those 32 were now indexed!
So long story short, this idea certainly worked to get these citations indexed, but the bigger question as posed by Joy Hawkins was, “Does this improve rankings or traffic on the actual GMB listing?”
Does Getting Citations Indexed Improve Rankings?
I will let you be the judge of that yourself.
A couple of days after this experiment began, I took a screenshot of my rankings for the keyword “local SEO” using a new local rank tracker tool called Local Falcon.
This tool is awesome and I highly recommend you stop reading this post (just don’t forget to come back) and go try it on your business/clients because it gives you accurate Google Maps tracking to visualize how you rank in different parts of a city.
This was the result for my business around the time the test began on October 30, 2018.
My rankings are pretty bad as I haven’t done much work for my own site. That being said, what happened after getting these existing citations indexed?
Well on November 19, 2018, I used Local Falcon again to see if things had improved in any way.
There was an increase, especially in the outer bands of the results.
For example top row, the sixth pushpin from the left went from 13 to 7. The same in the bottom row where the fourth pushpin from the left went from 13 to 9.
Around the business, the rankings went up as well.
So I kept on letting Google do their thing and ran the rankings again on November 27, 2018.
All of the red was totally gone!
There is even a sprout of green in the middle.
I know that correlation isn’t causation. I can’t argue that these results were purely due to getting the citations indexed. I am just not sure.
I didn’t do anything else of note during this time to my website or do anything that should affect my rankings.
Again on December 25th, 2018:
Finally, I ran it again on February 22, 2019, for the latest update showing some improvemens outside the center area:
The bottom line
While this is not the holy grail of ranking in local SEO, it is certainly something to be added to the arsenal of tools at our disposal.
Jara Moser agrees that this is something she does for her clients and it makes a considerable difference.
She says, “We actively do this and have seen it make considerable improvements for new companies/rebrands. Existing businesses that haven’t changed names or locations this doesn’t have nearly the same level of impact.”
So your mileage may vary.
But imagine that working for a telephone answering service or a Personal Injury Lawyer in a competitive city.
In West Palm Beach, FL we are paying $199 a call for a click to call Google Ads campaign for such a law firm. How valuable would it be to move the needle for that clients ranking a spot or two in the maps pack?
What if a tactic like this can help them to rank better in a wider area than they were ranking for, for instance near a hospital?
It would be worth the hour of work to give it a shot.
So, how do you implement this strategy for you or your clients?