GMB Features Suspended Due to Covid-19: What’s Changed and How It Affects BrightLocal Customers

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There’s no denying that these are hard times for local businesses around the world, with many being forced to shutter or adapt quickly as measures are put in place to stop the spread of the Covid-19.

During this time, we’re committed to making sure our customers are kept updated on any developments affecting local SEO, and last week we saw the first significant change by Google.

In a , Google announced that it was temporarily disabling and limiting a number of features in Google My Business, saying:

What features have been removed?

New Reviews 

During this period no new reviews will be published to Google My Business profiles. Users will still be able to post and see their own reviews at this time, but they will not be publicly visible.

It is not yet known whether these reviews will be made visible once Google lifts the restrictions.

Review Replies

Review replies have also been disabled. With no new reviews appearing, there’s obviously less need for businesses to be able to respond right now. However, businesses will be unable to respond to existing reviews on their profile. This also applies to editing the content of existing review replies – if that’s even a thing!


In perhaps the most significant change, Q&As have been completely removed from profiles. This means all existing Q&As will not be visible and users will be unable to post new questions

In Google’s post about the change, they only made reference to ‘new Q&As’ but having checked a number of businesses, Q&As appear to have vanished.

What features are limited?

Adding, claiming and verifying listings

While no functionality is being removed, Google’s listing review process is being prioritized for health-related businesses. Businesses that aren’t health-related can expect delays when adding and claiming listings and receiving listing verifications.

Google has not yet stated the length of the delay. 

Editing business information

Businesses that aren’t considered health-related can also expect delays to the listing edits, including:

  • Open and closed states
  • Special hours
  • Temporary closures
  • Business descriptions
  • Business attributes

This covers edits made by both businesses and users.

Anything else worth knowing?

While not officially confirmed by Google, many SEOs are noticing other changes in Google My Business.

Google Posts

Google Posts are still available at time of writing but SEOs are reporting that they’re seeing a higher number of rejections.

Google hasn’t made any reference about why a higher number of Posts are being rejected or whether new guidelines are in place temporarily.

Until things become clearer, Google Posts are an effective way to ensure important information and changes to operations are visible to searchers. 

User-generated content

While not confirmed by Google yet, Joy Hawkins has reported that user-generated content is also suspended.

‘Takeout/delivery available’ in business names

Google is usually pretty strict when it comes to business names in GMB, but it appears to have loosened its guidelines by allowing restaurants to add ‘delivery available” or ‘takeout available’ to their business names.

Why is Google doing this?

From where I’m sat, which is at home practising social distancing, Google seems to be doing this for two reasons:

  1. To ensure health-related businesses are able to keep customers updated about critical information
  2. To limit the burden on businesses who are likely to be inundated with questions related Covid-19

On one hand, Google should be commended for protecting its staff’s health and prioritizing its focus on businesses that provide critical health services to their communities.

One the other hand, many businesses will be reliant on Google My Business to ensure customers are made aware of changes such as opening hours. If they provide essential services to a community, then up-to-date information is going to be vital to ensure customers aren’t making unnecessary trips.

Additionally, local businesses need as much support as possible right now, and removing reviews prevents customers supporting the local businesses that are dear to them.

Just last week, the local SEO community rallied on Twitter by sharing the reviews they’d left for businesses they love and inviting others to do the same.

How will BrightLocal customers be affected?

These changes will have minimal impact on the vast majority of features and services provided by BrightLocal, but there are small implications.

Reputation Manager

It may feel like stating the obvious, but until the review suspension is lifted, you’ll see no new Google reviews in Monitor Reviews and Review Inbox. You’ll also be unable to respond to existing Google reviews if you’ve connected a location to Google My Business.

It remains to be seen whether reviews written during this period will be made publicly visible at a later date. If these aren’t lost, then we’re confident we’ll be able to bring this data into Reputation Manager as soon as they’re visible.

Get Reviews

If you have Get Reviews campaigns that invite users to leave reviews on Google, we recommend to change this out immediately. While customers will be able to leave a review, you won’t see the benefit while reviews are not publicly visible.

We actually see this is a great opportunity to look beyond Google as the only place to capture reviews. You might want to use this opportunity to boost your reputation on other popular sites such as Facebook and Yelp. Or you could focus on industry-specific sites that have a big sway over consumers.

Despite what you might think, many consumers are actually being encouraged to leave business reviews as a way of so this is a good time to reach out with a Get Reviews campaign.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the we added to Reputation Manager late last year.

If you want to get data-driven about it, you can use the ‘Sources’ tab in your Reputation Manager dashboard to pinpoint where to focus your attention.

Reputation Manager Sources

Citation Builder

While Google prioritizes its support attention to health-service business, we might see a delay in how quickly we’re able to add and update Citation Builder campaigns that contain Google listings. We don’t yet know how long Google’s delay will be, but we’ll continue to work on Google listings with the same efficiency as usual.

What’s next?

There’s no timescale on how long these changes and limitations will be in place and we imagine these won’t be the last changes we’ll see during the Covid-19 situation.

We’ll continue to keep you posted on our blog, via email and through social media on the rollback of these changes and any new developments. Additionally, LocalU has put together a handy resource that’s compiling every known

A final note…

At BrightLocal, we have always known that the local SEO community is pretty special – I honestly don’t think I’ve seen another industry with so much knowledge sharing. So we want to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who is keeping a close eye on developments impacting our industry and offering their advice to help many businesses and agencies who might be hurting right now.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing more about the steps BrightLocal is taking to help our customers during this period.

Until then, please stay safe!

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How to Scale Your SEO Agency [Webinar Recap]

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Running an agency is no piece of cake — something our panelists know well. But once you’ve conquered the day-to-day running of one, how do you progress?

Making the decision to scale up can be tricky, and there are a lot of obstacles to contend with. That’s why, on March 18, 2020, we united a panel of agency veterans to discuss the key turning points and processes needed to grow your SEO agency.

Both of our panelists — Blake Denman and Mike Ramsey — have been through this exact phase and carry the bruises and rewards to show for it. So why not take the opportunity to learn from these priceless experiences and, hopefully,  avoid some of the missteps that our panelists might have made along the way?

In this BrightLocal webinar, we cover the key steps to take when scaling up, including targeting the right customers, scaling up efficiently, how, when, and who to hire, and overcoming obstacles.

P.S. You might notice our webinar panelists are dressed a little, uh, unusually. But, we’ll leave it to them to explain why at the start of the webinar. Want to skip straight to the juicy content? Jump right in at the 4-minute mark.




Where they started

Once the panelists had finished explaining the intricacies of “dressing to impress”, they jumped straight into talking about current events — acknowledging that, in a time when businesses are talking about scaling back, rather than up, the webinar agenda and SEO landscape was changing right beneath our feet.

Interestingly, each panelist (including host and BrightLocal CEO Myles Anderson) has been running their business for 10 years.

Mike begins by explaining that he started building Nifty just after the housing crash in 2008. He doesn’t gloss over the nitty-gritty details, candidly saying “It was really hard and I wasn’t able to pick up very much business right out of the gate”. But what sparked the success that led to where Nifty is today? Mike shared his new website in the , offering SEO services, pay-per-click, and website design.

“I put it out there and [people] said, ‘You look like everyone else. What do you do that’s different from somebody else in this space?’” Mike claims that this is the piece of feedback that helped Nifty to transition from trying to be everything to everybody, to finding a focus.

So, Mike found the one thing each of his (few) clients were looking for and honed in on that. At the time, it just so happened that everyone was looking to get listed on Google as a business — what we now know as Google My Business.

“I started to put all of my energy and resources into sharing, talking about and studying things happening within this Google Local realm […] which helped to differentiate our company at that time. We became known for local search. And I think without that, we wouldn’t have gotten off the ground”.

Similarly, Blake started his business back in 2009, when the recession was at its height. After some of his friends were laid off from an agency that had been hit by hard times, Blake shortly decided to brave it on his own. Blake told us that he and his friends were hanging out that same evening when he threw the idea of starting their own company out there. “[My friends] got excited and we started to come up with business names. The name RicketyRoo popped into my head, I threw it out there, they loved it, so I bought the domain name that night. Six months later when I decided to go out on my own I needed a company name, well, people seemed to like RicketyRoo so I went with it.”

At the time, Blake says, “I was only doing pay-per-click and I had a couple of clients. 90% of my revenue was coming from one big account”. When that big account eventually left, Blake once again found himself in a “tough place”.

Blake soon realized he’d need to alter his path if he wanted to achieve his goals. He became more engaged in the community, performed more outreach, and like Mike, began to specialize. Now, Blake works with a team of four people all specializing in local search.

Myles questions how Blake managed to stimulate that growth to get to a point he’s now happy with (and continuing to grow!) His response? “In the past few years, I’ve become a lot more active in the community. I’ve started to speak at conferences — which doesn’t always turn into revenue right off the bat but it’s something I’m investing a lot of time into.” In fact, Blake actually met his largest client to-date at a conference.


Given the current circumstances and challenges facing local businesses and SEOs at this time, it would be amiss not to at least briefly cover the affect coronavirus is currently having.

To begin, Myles asks Mike what —if any — impact he’s seeing on clients right now as Covid-19 begins to have an impact in the USA. “This isn’t the first recession I’ve been through as an agency owner, but this is a very unique one for anybody.”

Opening up about the real effects coronavirus has had on his business, Mike tells the audience that, so far, Nifty has lost approximately $17,000 MRR (monthly recurring revenue). While that’s not a substantial number in relation to the company’s ambitious $5 million revenue goal, it’s still hard-hitting.

Mike mentions that, when he got into the internet marketing business, he thought it would be more or less recession-proof. But, as we’ve seen, nothing seems to be entirely safe in our current scenario. Mike’s lost out on his conference clients, who have been hit hard by the cancellation of public events and large gatherings. Nevertheless, Mike says he feels fortunate that the effects so far are few and far between.

“As marketers, we know that it’s so important to continue to market in hard times. And those that find a creative way to do that, will end up coming out ahead. Yet it’s the last thing that people want to do — to spend money on this question mark when they have fear”.

At Nifty, Mike says they’re tackling the situation by working with clients to discover their personal fear. If budgets need to be cut, that’s okay. But it’s about making people feel secure on a personal level, as well as a business one. It’s also important if you can, to provide some goodwill for loyal clients. If they need more support during these tough times, it’s worth weathering the storm to ensure they make it through the other side. Not only is it a good thing to do, but it means your business will likely reap the rewards on the other side of this.

“The most important thing I think you can do as an agency owner is to understand and have your pulse on what reactions your clients are having.”

Similarly, Blake says that the first thing he did when “everything started going south”, was to contact his team and make sure they were in the loop about the current situation — “This is where it’s at, and here’s our runway”.

In terms of Blake’s MRR, he says so far the pandemic has affected around 4.5-5% of it. Again, it’s clients in the events and travel spaces that are feeling the burden right now.

Blake mentions the importance of providing additional support as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters.

Targeting the right customers

Moving onto a more positive topic, Myles asks Blake how the profile of customers has changed and how you target the “right” customers for your agency. “Typically, we’d discuss that in the initial discovery call”, says Blake. For example, if someone’s really fixated on cost versus goals, that’s not a good sign. Blake also recommends looking out for anything you’d consider a red flag, during those initial conversations you’re having.

“If I feel like it’s going to be a real tug-of-war relationship, then they’re probably not the right fit for us”.

Importantly, it’s good to be in a position where you don’t have to let everybody “through the door”, as it were. Whether or not you can afford to be picky, however, really depends on your current personal situation. As Blake says, if bills need to be paid you may not be able to be so selective.

Meanwhile, Mike speaks to the benefits of hiring, saying that his Director of Marketing is very skilled at being able to “sniff out” who’s a good fit for Nifty and who’s not.

Making sales

Transitioning into the topic of sales — something Mike and Blake are both passionate about — Myles asks what sales channels tend to bring in the best quality leads.

In terms of the inbound versus the outbound balance of sales, Mike says Nifty is “almost 100% inbound” at this point. But looking back, Mike can’t pinpoint just one channel that led to quality leads and sales. In a general sense, “sharing information”, whether through blogs or conferences, is what provided Nifty with the best sales opportunities.

Scaling smoothly

Scaling an agency is one thing, but doing it smoothly is a whole other kettle of fish.

Blake is keen to emphasize that like with many aspects of agency work, how to scale painlessly really depends on your goals. While RicketyRoo has had some bumps along the way, there were also large stretches where everything was smooth sailing.

One thing that helps the scaling process, Blake says, is documenting processes as you grow — whether that’s writing them up or creating training videos for new hires.

It’s also important to have the right tools and platforms to help you along the way. For example, Blake gives a big shoutout to project management platform : “It’s been a game-changer for us”.

Hiring and training staff

In regards to hiring, Mike says Nifty operates with a couple of different approaches in mind. Depending on the level of seniority, Mike will hire with short-term or long-term goals in mind. So hiring for a senior project manager position, will take around a years’ time, versus a “doer” or associate-level role which will take just a few months.

Speaking on who to hire, Mike says “The number one thing we hire on is personality”, as it’s far easier to train someone up in SEO than it is to make someone fit into the existing company culture.

Mike mentions Nifty also used to struggle with the training of staff. Previously, each new hire would spend a month or so learning the ins and outs of their department. As the company has grown, however, Nifty now has a Director of Search, whose main role is more or less to train up these new hires and get them up to speed. This approach, Mike says, leads to a good level of consistency. In contrast, Mike says when they didn’t have specific trainers “it was a little Wild West!” So it’s definitely worth investing in training people thoroughly, as it will save you time in the long run.

On this topic, Myles jumps in to speak of the importance of catering to different employees’ unique learning styles. For example, some people love videos, while some people just want a manual to read. So how you train should be flexible depending on your team’s learning styles.

Making mistakes and getting advice

When scaling an agency, some pitfalls are inevitable. But what’s the biggest? Blake says “relying on too few clients” — something he mentioned he was guilty of in the past. Otherwise, it would be not keeping your pipeline full.

And even in the stages of success that Mike and Blake are both at now, there still comes a time when you need to reach out for advice. Blake gives a nod to the importance of having a network of friends or colleagues in the same industry. And sometimes you just need to someone to tell you to “Shut up and focus on one thing”.

Even if you don’t have a network nearby, there’s nothing stopping from you starting a Google Hangout. Especially if you’re a solo entrepreneur, having a community to lean on is vital. Blake also mentions he has a business advisor which really helps him out, too.

On the other hand, Mike sources advice and support from the Agency Con group on Facebook — “that’s the first place I go to [for advice]. Similarly, the group involved with Local U (Joy Hawkins, Mike Blumenthal, et al) provides a great place to bounce ideas back and forth. For Mike, “there are certain people for certain issues and there’s probably not someone who can be the master of all things”. So it’s worth having a catalog of resources.

As the webinar comes to an end, Myles questions what Blake and Mike’s biggest headaches are right now. For Mike, it’s “How to continue to attract sales. Always.” Despite having a full pipeline, it’s still an issue you need to continue to solve on a daily basis. As Mike says, “If you don’t solve [that problem], you won’t have any other problems to solve”. He also claims to always be thinking of the best, most efficient way to tackle things.

Blake agrees, “Making sure the pipeline is fresh.” He also recommends looking at projects and timelines with a birds-eye view, so you don’t find yourself overloaded and understaffed.


  • Project Management Platform:
  • Forum:
  • Forum:
  • Facebook:
  • Local U:
  • BrightLocal:

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Is Building Citations Still Important to Local SEO?

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One of the most hotly-discussed local ranking factors is without a doubt citations. If you’re active on the forums, you’ll often see people questioning “How relevant are citations?” or “?” But finding a straightforward answer to those questions can be a whole new challenge.

In recent years, the relevance of citations (and other ranking factors) has been frequently debated.

Anecdotal evidence points to a change in the role of citations. No longer are they competitive difference-makers but more “table stakes”, or what people would call a foundational factor in local SEO. This means that, while citations alone won’t get you ranking #1, you do need at least some accurate and consistent citations to compete effectively in the local SEO game.

Additionally, research like our annual shows that citations still provide value to agencies and local businesses alike, and that citation management remains one of the most common services offered by agencies.

Value of citations

So while we might say that the impact of citations on local SEO performance isn’t what it was 10 years ago, the value to agencies and businesses remains intact. 

In an effort to demystify the chatter around citations, I’ll be asking (and hoping to answer!) some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding citations.

So get ready to hold your breath, as we’ll be diving deep into the world of citations.

Frequently asked questions about citations

Does building citations have any impact on rankings?

Like with any local SEO ranking factors, it’s hard to tell how impactful one component is, but there’s definitely a correlation between businesses ranking in the top ten and the number of citations they have. 

As I said earlier, building citations no longer provides the competitive advantage it once did. It’s possible you will receive more noticeable gains if you are in a less saturated industry, but more often than not having citations is just a part of building local SEO foundations.

While we might not advise building hundreds of citations, if you want to try to rank for local searches, you will need at least a foundational citation presence.

According to our , which explored more than 120,000 businesses, businesses ranking in the top 10 search results have an average of 81 citations. Meanwhile, businesses holding onto the #1 spot have 86 citations and businesses rankings in #10 have just 75. 

Of course, we can’t make causation claims from this correlation, but we can try to connect the dots. It’s likely that businesses ranking in the top 10 are doing well in other aspects of local SEO, but it wouldn’t be out of the question to suggest that citations played some part in their top ranking.

Do I need hundreds of citations to rank well?

You don’t need hundreds of citations to rank well — it’s perfectly possible to rank in the local pack without that many, providing you’re doing everything else right. And citations alone aren’t going to get you ranking number one without putting the work in elsewhere.

That said, citations go beyond being a ranking factor and it’s important to make sure your business is listed on any sites where customers may search for you. Our SEO Citations Study showed that, on average, top 10-ranking businesses had 81 citations. But of course, this number will vary from industry to industry.

How many citations do you need?

If in doubt, you can use a tool like to find where your business is listed online already. It will also display anywhere your competitors are listed that your business isn’t present on. If your competitors are listed somewhere, it likely means that site will be relevant to you, too (if there’s a lot of overlap in your industry, be sure to do due diligence and check the site out first!)

While you don’t need hundreds of citations to rank well, most local SEOs recommend having at least 30-50. A good way to ensure all bases are covered is by submitting to a . These companies (FourSquare, InfoGroup, Neustar, and Factual) distribute your (name, address, phone number) to third-party directories, which means you can fill in any gaps on directories you may have missed.

Even more important than building new citations, it’s vital to make sure anywhere your business is listed online includes the correct, up-to-date information (think opening hours, location, contact details), and no are present. Duplicate listings are surprisingly common, but they’ll only serve to confuse potential customers.

Unlike some citation building services, BrightLocal’s Citation Builder allows you to build as many or as few citations as you’d like, so you don’t need to waste your money by bulk buying hundreds. After all, the number of citations you need will likely vary depending on your industry, audience, and scope. At just $3/submission, with BrightLocal is cost-effective, you can build as many or as few you as you need, and most importantly, it’s under your control.

What is the ROI of citation building?

As with many aspects of SEO, it’s hard to isolate the exact impact of a single action or factor. Typically there are multiple factors influencing rankings at any given time and the effect of optimizing multiple factors is greater than the effect of individual factors working on their own. Basically, you need to optimize various factors to get maximum benefits.  

The best ROI calculation we can offer looks at a breakdown of citation cost as a proportion of marketing budget versus the ranking impact of citations.

  • Average spend on citation management = $389 (Source: )
  • Average annual spend on marketing = $21,200 (Source: )
  • Citation spend as % of marketing = 1.83%
  • Citation impact on local-pack ranking = 10% (Source: )

The average spend on citations accounts for less than 2% of annual marketing spend but accounts for 10% of the ranking impact — that’s a very positive ROI. And considering that most businesses don’t need to update their citations every year, this ROI looks even more compelling with a multi-year view.

Is it true that only the “big” directories like Yelp matter?

Yes, the “big” directories are important, but it’s actually even more important to get listed on sites that are relevant to your industry. Remember, we want to think about where customers are looking — not just Google.

As with most things, the directories you choose to submit to will depend greatly based on what industry you’re operating in. 

So if you’re in hospitality, you’ll want to be on TripAdvisor, mechanics should be on CarWise, and plumbers on… you get the picture. If you’re not sure which directories are most relevant to you, reference a list of to better inform you.

Unlike other service providers, BrightLocal has a vast catalog filled with more than 1,400 directories to suit a variety of needs, so you can get down to the nitty-gritty and find those niche directories that work for your business.

Can I rank in SERPs with inconsistent NAP?

NAP inconsistency won’t deplete your chances of ranking, but it can confuse customers, so keep things uniform wherever possible.

It’s also important to determine what’s meant by inconsistent NAP. Luckily, over time Google has improved its understanding of inconsistencies and will no longer penalize you for having “St.” versus “Street” or “Ave.” versus “Avenue”. So minor inconsistencies in NAP such as these shouldn’t affect your SERP rankings. If you want to see what abbreviations Google accepts, take a look at Whitespark’s .

That said, when it comes to NAP inconsistency, like with most things relating to citations, you’ll want to ensure you’re making information as easy for your customers to understand as possible. And there’s no harm in minimizing inconsistencies, so if you go for “St.” on GMB, it’s probably worth keeping it the same across other directories. 

The inconsistencies that do matter, however, are genuine informational ones. Making sure your NAP is accurate across all directories is what really matters. So if you’re using a support phone number on GMB and a sales phone number on Yelp, you’ll want to try to consolidate these. On GMB you can include a primary and secondary number too if needs be. If you’ve got different departments, you’ll likely want to use the main phone number on your listings, and then provide direct lines where relevant.

Links are incredibly valuable, but reducing citations’ value to just links is all too common. While some directories do provide , claiming your listing on directories that don’t link out to your site at all is still useful.

Once again, I ask you to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Unfortunately, your customer doesn’t care whether or not Yell is giving you “link juice” — they just want to know when you’re open and how to reach you. 

Even for Google, the value of citations is the confirmation of your business’s name, address, and phone number, not the link. So while building links is important, and it can be considered a part of the citation-building process, it shouldn’t be your main aim here.

With all that in mind, purchasing citations can be an easy and effective way to build local links. Back in 2019, we spoke to some prominent local SEOs to ask them about , and more than half of them said that building local citations is a valuable way to get more backlinks.

So although links aren’t the main aim of citation building, it can be an inexpensive and effective way to build out your backlink profile.

As I’ve hinted at above, citation building and link building are not the same thing! Yes, citations can include links, and vice versa. But the reason you’re building citations is to provide Google and customers with trust signals.

Plus, as Andrew Shotland said in the Search Engine Land article mentioned previously, having a solid citation profile acts as insurance against Google thinking your business is a massage parlor rather than an auto dealer or (yes, that can happen).

GMB wrong category


Even if you used all the “dofollow” and “nofollow” (which ) citation sites in the world, that still wouldn’t provide you with a quality, relevant backlink profile. So your best bet is to undertake these as separate projects.

Has faith in citations depleted?

There’s certainly been a lot of frustration in the community — and understandably so — about local SEOs selling citations for more than they’re worth, or making bold claims that building hundreds of citations can skyrocket your business to ranking number one. 

But if you’re interested in what the experts have to say, Search Engine Land’s 2019 piece on represents the current outlook pretty well. While some of the experts said that citations aren’t quite as impactful as they once were, they all agreed that they shouldn’t be thrown out of your toolkit completely and are an important foundational aspect of local SEO.

Moz’s Miriam Ellis offered a great take on why citations are still useful for local SEO:

Thinking beyond just algorithms, building citations is a great way to attain your brand’s fair share of the SERPs, so why wouldn’t you want to claim at least the most visible directories?

In 2018, we conducted a ourselves, asking local SEO pros if they still believe in citations. The results? 90% of respondents said that citations were either “fairly” or “very” important for local search. In all fairness, since this study was conducted just over a year ago, we might expect things to have changed some by then — but determining whether that’s down to the data available or to industry speculation would be another thing.

Will purchasing data aggregator submissions fix all my citations?

Ah, if only things were this simple! While purchasing data aggregators can fill gaps in your online presence, .

Data aggregators work by supplying third party directories, review sites, and mobile apps with data from local businesses. So when you submit to a data aggregator through BrightLocal we can fix your data at the source.

At BrightLocal, we recommend using data aggregators in conjunction with manual citation submissions to achieve the best results.

Data aggregators do submit to a lot of sites for a relatively small fee (with BrightLocal it’s just $60 for all four) meaning they are a good way to cover many bases. That said, there are still directories they won’t work for — meaning it’s just not possible for all errors to be fixed solely by submitting to aggregators.

There are also other factors at play here. For example, if a business listing on a citation site has already been claimed or verified by the business owner, then the citation site may effectively lock that listing. This means that the listing won’t be updated by data bought from other sources, such as data aggregators.

So, in short, will help you fix a lot of data and supplement existing listings, but there’s no way to guarantee it will fix everything.

If I stop paying a business listing management service will my citations stay intact?

With business listing management providers like , nine times out of 10, no your citations will not stay intact. 

But it really depends on which citations provider you’re working with. If you read my “” article earlier this year, you’ll know that whether or not your citations stay intact varies depending on what process services use to submit citations — whether it’s through APIs or manually. 

In fact, a showed that just 5% of listings built with Yext stayed intact when users stopped paying for the service. Because of the nature of the automation and API processes companies like Yext use, citations aren’t yours to control and will revert back when you stop paying.

With BrightLocal on the other hand, citations are handbuilt by our team of lovely citation builders! And we believe that you should have full control over listings, meaning your information won’t revert back if you stop using our service.

The main problem with listing management providers that use APIs is that it can once again lead to duplicate listings and wrong information — which not only confuses Google’s algorithm but also your potential customers.

If you’re hoping to build citations with a company that uses APIs to push data out to directories, be vigilant in your research and ensure you know what will happen when you cancel. Otherwise, building citations could do more harm than good.

If Google doesn’t index my citations, what’s the point?

While it’s important for Google to know your citations exist (or what’s the point, right?) it’s actually more useful to have Google crawl your citations, versus indexing them. 

What’s important for search engines is establishing trust in your site, which means that crawling even without indexing can be useful. So even if your citation doesn’t appear in the search results (possibly because Google doesn’t deem it relevant to searchers), it is still being used as a trust signal that will affect your site’s rankings.

Part of BrightLocal’s Citation Builder offering includes taking extra measures to get your citations crawled along with a few to speed this process along. 

Can I pick the directories I build citations in?

As I mentioned earlier, citations don’t have to — and shouldn’t — be one-size-fits-all! At BrightLocal our team of Citation Builders can work with you to create a custom plan, meaning you can build an online presence in the places you deem necessary.

Creating citations on a tailor-made basis not only provides a better ROI but also means your business will only appear in the places relevant to it. 

The quality of your citations is far more important than the quantity of them, and should your pet grooming site show up on you’ll only leave customers and search engines confused.

Your business needs aren’t one-size-fits-all, so your business listings shouldn’t be either.

So, how relevant are citations in 2020?

The big one! Despite the speculation, as we’ve proved above, citations are in fact still relevant in 2020. 

How relevant they are and how many citations you need will vary depending on your industry, but if you do it right, building citations can provide Google and consumers with the trust signals they need to invest in your business. 

As our Local Search Industry Survey showed, local SEO agencies still find citation building to be one of their — and they should know! 

Most valuable local marketing services

Plus, with the recent introduction of new features like the , some directories are even taking center stage.

Find results carousel EU SERPs

At BrightLocal we sell citations as part of a wide suite to support your local marketing efforts. Local SEO is an ongoing project that involves undertaking several tasks if you hope to succeed. That’s why our tool unites the key elements to rank well in local search, including Reputation Management, Rank Tracking, and Local SEO Audit. 

Like many things, the approach to citations might have changed, but their relevance hasn’t.

Key takeaways

  • You don’t need hundreds of citations to succeed in search, but building citations is a quick win
  • Citations should work for you — make sure you have full control over your listings
  • Managing and removing inaccurate and duplicate listings is still important as ever
  • Submit citations to niche directories relevant to your business, not just the “big” names
  • Building citations is still one of the most valuable services provided by local SEO agencies
  • Directories are regaining prominence with new local SERP features 
  • Citations are a foundational part of local SEO — they may not solely cause you to rank #1 but they are “table stakes”
  • Citation building ≠ link building

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