Tools are making the lives of many local SEO specialists easier. I have decided to start a new series of articles dedicated to the tools of local search optimization. The one I’m going to start with is the Local Citation Finder from Whitespark. Here are the main reasons why:
- citations are a vital part of local SEO
- the Whitespark tool provides the most comprehensive and user-friendly citation building system I’ve seen
- after the July 2011 UI update on Google Places, the “More about this place” section was hidden which resulted into many other tools not working properly
- the Whitespark Local Citation Finder provides great opportunity for both checking one’s own citations and the ones of the main competitors
What is the Local Citation Finder and how it works
As its name suggests it discovers the online citations of other local competitors. Specifically these competitors whose Google Places pages rank on first page for the chosen keywords. After you sign up (literally takes 30 seconds) you will see the following screen:
The list of countries available currently includes United States, Canada, UK, Australia, Chile, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey (Bulgaria and Romania were just included!).
After you choose the country, state/province, city and keyword, the tool will automatically generate your final search phrase using the keyword+city from the upper two blanks. After you are ready and press the search button, the following screen would appear:
Using the paid service
As you can see there is an option to “Go Pro”, i.e. to use the paid version of the tool. I personally use it for some time now and I am very satisfied with the results. The following screen explains the basic difference between the free and the paid service:
The free service could be sufficient for small business owners, who don’t really need to do a lot of research on the competition and who are not involved full-time into local SEO. 3 keyword searches per day and top 30 citations would be completely enough. However, a business that has multiple locations in different cities, or local SEO specialist, who has numerous clients, the free service would not be sufficient. Depending on the number of listings that the particular person manages, there are three options of paid service. The most valuable features of the “pro” tool are:
- organizing searches into projects, good for different locations or clients
- the results are ready in a few minutes
- ability to see all the citations of all the competitors, which is very important when in a high competition market
- the tool automatically mark the citations that you already have
- ability see the citations of each one of the top 7 competitors separately
- ability to see the SEOmoz Domain Authority and Majestic SEO ACRank of each citation site, thus being able to determine which ones are valuable to be listed on - my favorite feature (for those who don’t know what Domain Authority or ACRank is, check here and here).
The results page for pro users
You can order the results according to the number of occurrences (i.e. number of competitors that have this citation), AC Rank or Domain Authority. I’d suggest that you start with the directories with the highest number of occurrences and when you get down start checking the quality of these citation sources. Usually citations with DA lower than 10 are almost useless.
Regarding the competitor analysis, there are two ways to check on their citations:
1) By clicking on “View sources” next to their phone number - this way you can check the citations of each competitor separately
2) By clicking on the + sign next to the citation source URL - if you do that a table with the competitors that are listed on the particular website will show up
More features coming up
There are more features that are going to be released in the near future, including:
- Automatically Categorized Results - results organized into free directories, paid directories, blogs, etc.
- Consistency Check - automatically check all your existing citations to ensure the business Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) are consistent on all sites.
- Weekly Reports - Receive a report once a week telling you which new citations are now appearing, and which ones have fallen out of Google’s index, for yourself, and for your competitors.
- More Sources - new query types to find local citations sources like blogs, newspapers, magazines, and local websites.
Darren (the creator of the tool) said that these will go live in the next 2-3 weeks, so I suggest that all head over and sign up.
For the geeky ones there is already a public API, which one could use for their own tools.
The Local Citation Finder provides practically anything one could need in terms of local citations, competitor analysis vis-à-vis citations, and citation building. The cool thing is that once you sign up the price stays the same even though the tool evolves.