We have over 1,000+ sites in our citation database and we put a great deal of effort into optimizing this list to ensure it only contains sites that are useful, powerful, and relevant. But there are a few reasons why specific sites might not be in our database:
- The site has an exclusive relationship with Yext (e.g. Yahoo).
- The site has a high DA but they do not accept direct submissions from businesses. Instead, the only way to get listed with them is via a specific provider/data aggregator (e.g. Whitepages accept submissions via Data Axle only).
- Submission of the listing requires real time phone verification which we can’t provide.
- The site pulls specific sections of the data (e.g. opening hours) from other sources and does not allow us to fix that or continuously overrides the data we submit.
How we evaluate and select the best citation sites
We use a set of 6 ‘signals’ when evaluating potential citation sites. There are many things to consider about a site, and using just 1 or 2 of these factors alone doesn’t provide the full picture. By considering all these signals we can ‘triangulate’ whether a site has the right qualities to make it into our citation database.
1. Domain Authority
When creating or editing citations it’s important to focus on the highest value sites first. The higher the value, the more citation authority a site has, which will benefit your Google Places/+Local listing.
Domain Authority* is a common measurement of the ranking power of a website.
Akin to Page Rank, Domain Authority provides a score for a website that equates to the ‘rank-ability’ of that site within search engines. It takes into consideration multiple ranking signals including on-site factors and link profile.
We typically look at the Domain Authority score rather than specific page-level authority so that we get a good, comparable figure across all the sites we consider using.
An easy way for you to find out the Domain Authority of potential citation sites is to use our Citation Tracker tool. The reports generated by this tool provide a list of your existing citations, any old/incorrect citations, and also a list of sites your competitors are listed on but that you’re not. For each citation site, we show the Domain Authority so you can easily identify the most valuable sites to get listed on.
2. Indexed Pages
It’s important that the sites you list yourself on are extensively crawled by search engines and have a large number of their pages indexed.
Your objective in building citations is for them to boost the authority and ranking of your local search listings. So if you create a listing that never gets crawled by search engines, it then never makes it into their index and in turn, fails to pass on the citation value for you.
To find out how many pages a site has indexed by Google, we do a simple site: domain.com search.
We then record how many results are returned and factor this into consideration for whether we do or don’t want to use this site.
Typically if a site has over 100,000 pages indexed, then we can assume that the likelihood of your listings being crawled is high.
However, we also delve a bit deeper into the search results and look at the Type of Pages that are indexed. We scour the results to see if business-listing pages are indexed, as these are the page types that we’ll be creating with our listing.
If we find that a site has lots of blog and category pages indexed, but very few actual listing pages, then this indicates that even if we create a listing, it may not be discovered by Google and will have little value.
3. Structured NAP Display
NAP is an acronym for Name, Address, Phone Number. It’s important that your NAP is consistent across the web so that search engines can confirm the data they have for you is correct and accurate – which helps to boost your local search ranking.
A ‘Structured NAP’ means that the website presents the Name, Address and Phone number in a clear fashion with each part cleanly separated, as opposed to lumping all the text into 1 long sentence.
The value of a structured NAP is that it makes it easier for search engines to crawl and decipher your business information and therefore validate the details it holds about you.
More progressive citation sites go a step further and use structured mark-up to present their NAP data – e.g. schema.org or microformats. This makes it even easier for the search engines to understand and crawl their content effectively.
Note – we don’t downgrade sites that do not give us structured mark-up; the search engines are sophisticated enough to extract NAP data as long as it’s clearly structured. We are primarily concerned with creating clear, structured citations which search engines can crawl and verify correct NAP data against their own.
4. Quality and Nature of the site
Researching Domain Authority and Indexed Page count gives us a sense of the scale of a site, but size isn’t everything!
Smaller sites can still be valuable citation opportunities, even if they have a lower authority score and only a few thousand indexed pages.
Typically these are vertical, industry-specific directories or local directories, which take listings for a specific town, city, or region (i.e. state, province, county). Both types of directories can be relevant and valuable citation opportunities because they reaffirm the type of business and the area in which it is located.
So we look beyond the numbers and check the quality and relevance of sites, which we then factor into our decisions about whether to use a site or not.
5. Free Listing
To deliver citations in a cost-effective way we rely on free listing opportunities. So we always check each site to see which ones offer free listings.
Again, if you use our Citation Tracker tool we provide insights on whether a site offers a Free or Paid Listing in the reports. We keep this data regularly updated as sites change their policies.
6. Toxic Link Check
This is the most recent check we apply to the sites we use. We run our list of citation sites through a toxic link program to determine if any are considered ‘Toxic’ and should be removed from our list.
Testing for ‘Toxic’ status essentially looks at the link profile of a site (inbound and outbound) to determine if it’s spammy and low quality. Links created on these sites may be harmful to your business.
When reviewing toxicity we also consider factors such as Domain Authority. ‘Toxicity’ isn’t a black and white issue and so it’s important to review the other signals we have.