If you know anything about local SEO, then you’ll know that citations are absolutely essential for getting good rankings for keywords with local intent … especially if you want to rank strongly in the local pack:
If you don’t know what a citation is or how it can affect your website’s rankings, especially in terms of local pack results, then I suggest that you take a look at these resources.
The problem with finding good citation sources is that it can be quite a time-consuming process. Although you can go and do a Google search on citation sources (and find a huge number of blog posts, guides etc) you will find that a number of these are outdated. Furthermore, they don’t really help with the ultimate goal of reverse-engineering your competitors’ citations and then improving for better rankings.
Enter Whitespark’s Citation Finder tool, which I am going to be reviewing in plenty of detail today.
What Is It?
The Whitespark Citation Finder tool is – as the name suggests – a tool for helping you find citations that you can build for your own business or for clients.
The aim of the tool is to help you find more (quality) citations and faster than you would be able to do so manually.
It is a cloud-based product, which means there is no software to install on your machine and you can access it anywhere where you have an available Internet connection.
How Much Does It Cost?
This is a product with 4 different tiers, as well as a very limited free tier. Here is what is available:
I personally chose the “Small Business” tier as I only work with a couple of clients at the moment (although I’m looking to expand, so stay tuned!).
To be honest unless you had dozens of clients I don’t see why you would need the SEO Agency or SEO Enterprise tiers. You can always just delete an old project and then make a new one … although I guess that would get tedious if you had to do it lots.
And by the way, don’t bother with the free tier as it hides like 99% of the results you would find anyway. It’s fairly useless. I would like to see a more usable free tier, but I guess profits need to be made!
Who Makes It?
A Canadian company called Whitespark, who also have some other useful products geared towards local SEO.
You can learn more about them here.
Who Is It For?
There are two main audiences that this product is aimed at:
a) Business owners who do their own SEO and who are looking to improve their local rankings
b) SEO freelancers and agencies who do work for local biz clients
How Does It Work?
This is actually one of the easiest SEO software/cloud programs that I have ever used.
Once you’ve got your account registered, you can be up and running with great citations in mere minutes.
The first step is using the basic keyphrase search function. With this you need a country, a city/region, and a keyphrase that matches the business you are trying to find citations for. So an SEO consultant in Christchurch, New Zealand would be inputted as per below. Once you’ve inputted the required data, you can hit search:
Searching by location and keyphrase is the “bread and butter” way of using Whitespark’s Citation Finder tool. It doesn’t get much easier than that. I’ll show you what example results look like in a second. But for now, let’s look at the business search option.
This is ideal if you want to reverse engineer the citations that your competitors are using. You can also use it to get a list of existing citations for your/your client’s business, in order to avoid building duplicates.
The instructions are simple to follow. Just enter the regional data, business name, and phone number and then search away.
Once again, this is super easy to use. It really doesn’t take that long to get searching at all!
Once the tool has worked its magic and results are available, you can review them and start finding results.
Note the messages about useless scraper sites that you cannot submit to. This is something you will come across quite frequently when using the citation finder. These are listing sites that don’t allow you to submit manually … they just “steal” other peoples’ databases of business NAP data and present it on their own site. As suggested, make sure that you mark these off when going through so you can avoid them in future.
You can also mark off directories/citation sources that you have already submitted to in order to save time down the track and reduce the risk of making duplicate submissions.
Here’s what you might see after having run a few different searches. Note two things. Firstly, I’ve blocked out the keyphrases used to protect the integrity of clients’ data. Secondly, I don’t really bother with using projects as it doesn’t suit my workflow at this stage.
Once you open up a search result, you’ll see something like this (citations for the Christchurch SEO keyphrase):
From that picture above you can see a few important things:
- You’ll be shown top ranking business for the keyphrase. You should seek to piggyback off their citations by reverse engineering and hopefully outranking.
- The “Compare Citations for These Businesses” option is fantastic. I’ll post a screen show below. It gives you a neat way of comparing a t a glance the citations that these top ranking businesses are using (and what ones are missing so that you can build more and hopefully beat them!)
- The main table gives you the following info:
- Site. The URL of the submission site.
- Business submission. Either click “submit your business” to be taken directly to the submission page, or you might need to go to the main site itself and hunt around for the submission option. Most require the latter.
- OC. The number of times that particular citation source appeared in the SERPS for the keyphrase and region you have inputted. Higher OC might possibly indicate more trust from Google.
- Site Type. Is it a directory, news site, or something else? I don’t pay too much attention to this to be honest.
- DA. Moz Domain Authority. Higher = better.
- Status. Not really sure what this does TBH … another thing I don’t pay attention to.
- Notes. Add your own notes about the site here. E.g. “an awesome directory” or “total shite” or something like that.
Here’s what the comparison grid looks like:
What I Like
- Easy to use. Your grandma could use this and find kickass citations all day (and then rank the heck out of her bake store or whatever).
- Cloud based. Mac, Windows, Linux, sun dial … you name it, you can use it to run this tool. No downloads/installs to bloat your computer either.
- Well-priced $20 p/m for the basic option is not a lot of cash, and it’s even less if you opt to pay for a whole year in advance. If you’re running a serious SEO business, then that is such a small investment for a tool you will probably use for every new client. Although I dislike monthly billing, I’ll give it a pass because there are annual plans available and the value proposition is good.
- Mostly good citation results. I’ve found plenty of GREAT citations in different regions and niches using this product. And most are good quality citations that will help your business.
What I Dislike
- Too many irrelevant results. It gets old quite quickly sifting through the scraper sites and other listings where you can’t actually add any citations.
- Free tier is bad. Why even offer it? It doesn’t add any value as you’ll hardly get a single citation.
Is Whitespark’s Citation Finder tool really worth a buy? I think the answer to this depends on what exactly you do for a living.
If you are a small/medium/whatever business owner who does their own SEO, then you should totally hire me instead …
… No wait this isn’t a sales pitch! It’s an informative review. But in all seriousness, as this is a monthly subscription product and you’ll probably only do one or two phases of citation building, then it probably isn’t worth it.
If you’ve got spare time, then you could just slave away going through citation lists like this one and finding active submission opportunities. Sure you won’t be able to reverse engineer your competitors, but you’ll probably do quite fine indeed.
If you’re low on time, then you could just pay someone else to find the citations for you. Or you could go onto somewhere like the Source Market and purchase one of the many citation gigs available. Most of these will have someone find and build citations for you for mere pocket change, and you can usually pay for service upgrades to get great extras like niche specific citations or supporting links to those citations.
This is the service I recommend purchasing from Source Market – it represents stellar value for money.
SEO Freelancers & Agencies
Here is where Whitespark Citation Finder shows its value. If you are an SEO freelancer or owner/part of an agency that offers similar services, then this can be a truly useful tool indeed for speeding up the citation building process.
Simply create a project, fill in the details of your client’s business (or go down the reverse engineering path), let the tool run, and then get to work building those citations. This can save you a lot of time and allow you to deliver better value and results to your clients.
On that basis, I can’t see how $20-30 per month doesn’t represent great value for any business that offers SEO services to local clients. Having worked for agencies in the past, I’ve seen great rankings improvements for some clients just through citation building. It really is some of the easiest money you will make all while offering a truly valuable service.
While there are limitations, I think this is offset by the ease-of-use of the product and the fact that you can use it lots on a variety of clients. You could even make some extra side-hustle cash by selling searches on a site like Fiverr or the Source Market (e.g. “I’ll Find 50 Citation Sources For Your Business For $10”.)