Every well-rounded local SEO campaign will include some citation building – but how those citations are built, and whether manual submissions or data aggregators are used, will vary from campaign to campaign. There’s no right or wrong way but, for those with large or complex local SEO strategies and multiple physical locations, there’s no doubt that local data aggregators offer an efficient solution.
Because citations include essential business details such as name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP), they’re incredibly useful for both search engine users and search engine crawlers.
In our 2018 Expert Local Citation Survey, 90% of experts agreed that citations were important to local SEO rankings. Our panel was unanimous in requiring a business phone number, city, zip / post code and URL to be identical across citation sources for local search success. The 22 local search experts sitting on our survey panel also believe that a mix of different citations, from a range of industry and niche sites, is preferential.
For those charged with creating those citations, there are a couple of clear issues;
- Building citations – we estimate that manually building citations takes around 20 minutes per listing. It’s easy to see how much time is required to build citations at volume, for multiple physical locations.
- Accuracy – even changing how the city and state is formatted from one submission to another, or how the phone number is written, means citations aren’t an exact match. Add in the margin for human error if you’re spending all your time manually building dozens of citations (without the necessary training to handle all the different citation types) and it’s clear that accuracy can falter.
So, what’s the solution? Data aggregators, or local data aggregators as they are sometimes known, offer both accuracy and speed of submission, reducing the time needed to create the volume of citations necessary for local SEO improvement and ensuring new citations are accurate.
What is a local data aggregator?
Simply put, a local data aggregator (LDA) is an organization that gathers (aggregates) information about other businesses and then passes that data on to other sources.
Think of their function as similar to that of an old-school Yellow Pages – they bring together information such as business name, address and phone number – but on a much larger scale. Unlike the Yellow Pages, the data gathered by a data aggregator is then funneled to lots of other services for use in a range of ways; in mobile apps, on maps, to populate business directories and to be used on citation sites, for example.
Any business can sign up to use a data aggregator. Simply create an account, input your business information and then that LDA takes steps to verify your information. Once verified, you’re added to its database along with thousands of other companies with your business information subsequently fed to all of the websites and services that use business data from that aggregator.
Aggregators diffuse their information using systems such as RSS technology, so they can push information on thousands of businesses to thousands of sources quickly and efficiently. It’s this process which makes data aggregators a very useful tool for citation building. Just create an account with an LDA, submit your information and wait as it gets blasted out to multiple sites. Compare the ease of that process with the prospect of having to submit your information to every citation site one-by-one and painstakingly type out the details of your address, phone number etc. each time (and consistently and accurately, too!) and it’s easy to appreciate their usefulness.
Who are the main local data aggregators to be aware of?
We’ve seen that data aggregators make quick work of building citations by sending your business information to multiple sites automatically. There is further good news too; there are less than a handful of data aggregator services in the USA. This means it’s not too much of a task to submit your business information.
Acxiom is currently one of the quartet of local data aggregators serving the US market but, you’ll have to act quick if you want to submit your business information as it has announced it will cease to offer its directory and local search products from January 1st, 2020.
Acxiom describes itself as a people-based marketing company, providing “…the data, technology, and services you [marketers] need to power exceptional customer experiences everywhere.”
Its My Business Listing Manager is no longer accepting new registrations but existing account holders can supply location information and you can still push data to this service via BrightLocal’s aggregator submissions service.
Sites pulling information from Acxiom include the likes of 411, Yelp, Local.com, and Elocal so it’s worth factoring into your local data aggregator submission plans.
Infogroup says it is “… the leading provider of business data to the top search engines, navigation systems, mobile apps, marketing information programs and location-based apps. Our data powers the top search engines, because we provide the most accurate, continually-verified collection of real-time business data available, delivered through powerful technology.”
Infogroup accepts business data submissions via its ExpressUpdate and BulkUpdate engines.
The process is quick and simple for business owners; simply search ExpressUpdate for your business listing and verify the information is correct. Any anomalies can be corrected and updates can be made in future as circumstances change.
Infogroup conducts a phone verification and then makes that data available to its partners, which it says include the leading in-car navigation systems, 85% of the largest public libraries and the leading search engines, which account for 98% of all US-origin internet searches.
The BulkUpdate works in a similar manner, but is for those with 10 or more listings to submit – for example, brands with multiple physical locations.
Neustar Localeze is a data aggregator for small businesses. Its local search solutions for small businesses are built around True Identity, its proprietary platform which offers listing management with full control over business data.
It says, “Our True Identity service enables businesses to update their local listing information with over 100 local search platforms, mobile applications, navigation systems, and directories at one time – from one place.
“Localeze publishes your listing information to the largest authorized local search platform network in the industry.”
Businesses must take out a subscription to use True Identity – this is currently $79 per year, for 1-24 locations with unlimited updates. Data is subject to ongoing verification and validation to ensure complete accuracy and a completeness score is assigned to data, demonstrating how much additional information is required to assure trust in business information.
Factual no longer permits individual businesses to submit listing information to its local data aggregator engine. From February 2019, it says it “relies on a network of trusted data contributors that help to validate, aggregate and ensure the ongoing accuracy of core business attributes.”
To add or update a listing on Factual, businesses must work with one of the aggregator’s Trusted Data Contributors (TDC). A TDC submits information to Factual on your behalf, with TDC information considered “authoritative” and “factual”. BrightLocal partners with a TDC to ensure data reaches Factual.
How can using data aggregators help local SEO?
Data aggregators fit under the citation umbrella when it comes to assessing their contribution to your overall local SEO progress.
Local citations are a ranking factor
According to the benchmark Moz Local Search Ranking Factors Study, citation signals play a number of important roles in local pack ranking. The consistency of citations from primary data sources was classed as number 9 in the top 50 local ranking pack finder factors for example, while the quality and authority of structured citations was number 16 on the list.
Consistency of citations also made the cut, as did the quality and prominence of unstructured citations, such as those found in newspaper reports, along with the volume of citations from good quality local domains.
Incorrect citations damage credibility
We’ve already mentioned how time-consuming building citations manually can be, and touched upon the margin for error. For large businesses, or those with multiple people building multiple individual citations, the potential for inaccuracies and inconsistencies increases.
This isn’t only problematic from a ranking perspective, given Google’s known preference for accurate, consistent information, it can also seriously erode brand credibility and trust.
Our own 2018 Local Citations Trust Report confirmed this, with 93% of consumers telling us they become frustrated by incorrect information in directory sites. More troubling is the 80% of consumers who say they lose trust in a brand if they discover inconsistencies or discrepancies in contact information or the business name online.
71% of local consumers also said they had had a negative experience within the previous 12 months because of incorrect business information found online. Incorrect information can have real-world consequences too, with 22% of consumers ending up in the wrong place due to a misleading or incorrect local business address.
Local data aggregators offer an efficient way to sidestep this potential reputational damage by offering a single source of accurate data to multiple third-party sites.
It’s less time-consuming to build a visible profile
By its very nature, manual citation building is much more time consuming. It’s inevitable that some listing opportunities will be overlooked or simply not leveraged as quickly as they should be due to time constraints. Every citation not built represents a lost opportunity to be discovered online.
Likewise, missing information due to a rushed submission can make it almost impossible for potential customers to find your business. Using a data aggregator means you have just one listing to manage and keep up to date, while enjoying widespread visibility.
Manually signing up for and managing your business data on every relevant citation site takes a huge amount of time. A data aggregator makes that process much quicker and ensures data is accurate, complete and trustworthy.
For best results, combine data aggregator use with BrightLocal’s manual citation building service – this ensures the best coverage for your business, with listings on key local and industry sites.
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