What Does It Do?
At its most basic, the Whitespark Local Citation Finder (as its name implies) is a tool designed to help you find relevant citations to boost the local SEO power of your/your client’s websites.
You either put in a keyword and locale, such as “plumber Atlanta”, “bakery Wellington” and “3d printing Christchurch”, or you run an analysis on an existing business/website to see where it’s getting its citations from.
An example search in Whitespark
What’s A Citation?
If you’re not yet sure what citations are, and why they are so important for local SEO, then I’ll give you the basics here:
* A citation is usually when your business (and preferably your contact details for the business) is mentioned on another website.
* Citations consist, at their most basic, of the business name, address, and phone number. Having your web address added in for good measure is also ideal.
* Citation quantity and quality is important for increasing the chances of your business ranking well in the Google Local pack for search terms, as well as local search as a whole.
Here’s an example of a citation:
So Citations Are Good For Local SEO?
Yes! If you want to increase the likelihood of your website ranking well in “local” SERP results, then you need to be looking to grow the number and quality of citations that your website and business has.
If you’re confused as to whether you need local SEO, then answer the following question and find out:
Does your business have a physical location (or locations), and you want to get more traffic for terms related to that physical location? E.g. you are a dentist based in North Shore, NZ, and you want to attract people searching for “North Shore dentists”.
If so, then local SEO is relevant to your business. And in that case, you need to be building citations to maximise your chance of ranking well for local terms and appearing higher in the Google Local pack.
Protip: Consistency Is Key
When it comes to building citations for local SEO, one of the best tips is to be consistent with your NAP details – that’s name (business name), address, and phone number.
The more consistent you are with the information you use in your citations, the easier it will be for Google to attribute them back to your business and discern it from any others.
So before you start building citations – whether those you’ve found using Whitespark, or by hand – you need to gather all your business data in one consistent format and use only that.
I suggest something really simple like a text file with:
* Business name
* Business address – Always be consistent with the format here.
* Phone number – Once again, be consistent. And use the most common phone number format for your location.
* Fax number – If this is relevant to your business.
* Website URL – Either the homepage, or a branch specific landing page if relevant
* Business description – Come up with a few different versions you can copy/paste and then “spin” for uniqueness
Introducing Whitespark Citation Finder
So you now know that you need more citations to get your or your client’s business website ranking better for local search terms.
There are plenty of proven strategies for finding citation sources (read here for a great example) as well as guides to popular citations like Yellow Pages and Yelp that anyone can build.
But what if you want an easier system for finding citations for Local SEO?
That’s where Whitespark’s tool comes in.
Instead of requiring you to manually search for citations using Google search strings, reverse-engineering of competitor results, or trawling citation source pages, you can instead find potential relevant citations in a few minutes – or so the marketing material for Whitespark claims!
Registering Your Whitespark Account
The first step to finding citations with Whitespark is to register an account. There’s actually a free option available, which is meant to give you a good taste for the product.
However, the free edition of the product is actually terrible, because it hides about 90% of the potential citations for any keyword you find. In fact, it’s so bad it almost put me off the paid product until I tried it.
If you’re interested in Whitespark Local Citation Finder, then pony up for a premium plan. Don’t even waste your time with the free plan as it will hardly help you at all!
There are a number of pricing points available, depending on how much you intend to use the tool. If you are simply doing local SEO for your own website/business, then I recommend the cheapest plan. This will cost you $20 Canadian dollars per month (if billed monthly) or only $16.67 CAD per month if you pay one year in advance.
If you are running a small SEO freelancing business, then you might choose from the SEO Specialist/Agency plans. In the event you have dozens of clients or local businesses you are working with, then you would want the top tier Enterprise package at $100 per month.
Finding citations with the tool is supremely easy. In fact, this is one of the ‘easiest’ SEO tools I have ever had the pleasure of using. There are two main methods by which you can find your citations:
- Enter a keyword and locale, such as ‘plumbers Wellington’
- Run an analysis on your competition to find the citations they are using
Once you’ve made your search (and the tool has had time to work it’s magic) you will be presented with a list of citation opportunities. The number of which will vary depending on the size of your location, industry, exact search terms inputted etc. I’ve seen as low as 30 and as high as 200 results in everyday use.
Irrelevancy – Or The Biggest Downside Of This Tool
The biggest problem I’ve found with Whitespark Citation Finder is that it has a habit of chewing out some fairly, shall we say, ‘crap’ and irrelevant results.
Take a look at this list and you’ll see what I mean (I’ve highlighted some of the offending culprits)
Rather than shying away from this fact, the developers have been really good in adding a function that allows you to report poor results, ostensibly for the purpose of removing them from the index in future. You will also find results that you simply aren’t going to be able to build or replicate yourself as well.
Protip – Make sure you do a check of each potential citation before you build it. There’s no great need to get all overly-technical about things … just open up the site and ask yourself “is this a place I want to see mine/my client’s business listed?”. If not, then skip over it.
Is Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder tool worth your money?
If you’re working to optimise a website for local SEO (e.g. you run a carpentry service in Sydney and want to rank for “carpenters Syndey”) or if you have SEO clients for whom you would like to do the same, then yes.
Considering the reasonable pricing of the tool – with prices starting from $20 per month (Canadian dollars for monthly billing, even less if you pay annually) and scaling up depending on the amount of citation-sniffing you need to do, it is competitively priced.
Of course, as with all SEO tools and software, this particular one isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. As I mentioned earlier in the review, a number of the citations you find will be rather irrelevant, difficult-to-build, or poor quality; it’s crucial when using Whitespark Citation Finder that you have a process in place for checking through the list of potentials and whittling it down to the best ones. The free trial option also sucks, as it basically blocks you from seeing 90% of the potential citations for any search you do. Furthermore, I don’t find the user interface that easy to use. It takes some work to get 100% accustomed to how the tool functions for best results.
Despite these downsides, if you are in the business of ranking local business websites for location-specific terms, then this tool really needs to be in your arsenal. I think it’s especially valuable if you run an SEO agency or business where you are trying to rank local, bricks and mortar businesses for local-type keywords.
Click here to learn more about Whitespark’s Citation Finder, and to get your own account setup.
However, if you’re doing marketing with websites that aren’t targeted to any specific locality (i.e. your site doesn’t have a physical address and phone number associated with it) then there is no need to purchase this tool. It simply won’t do your website any use.
Got Any Questions?
If you’d like to ask any more questions about Whitespark’s Citation Finder tool, or you have a suggestion, compliment, or complaint about this review, then get in touch with me on sam @ internet-marketing-training-for-newbies.info (remove the spaces). Otherwise check out the contact page for more ways to get in touch with me.