BrightLocal’s Citation Monitoring Goes from Strength to Strength

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As anyone who has filled out a survey for BrightLocal knows (thank you, by the way!), we take customer feedback very seriously.

When we’re prioritizing what products to improve or new features to build, we not only monitor broad market trends, but we listen to you, our hard-working customers, doing your job day after day and making a real difference to your business or clients.

Our aim has always been to make local marketing simple, and we’re quick to acknowledge when we don’t get this right. We’ve listened to your concerns about the accuracy of citation finding and analysis and have completed a major overhaul of our citation monitoring tools to deliver greatly improved results today, and in the future.

The updates we’ve made over the last few months, both behind and before the scenes, have given us—and, hopefully, you—more confidence in our citations results than ever before.

Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been doing to improve all aspects of citation monitoring and auditing in BrightLocal:

1. Intelligent Analysis of Business Data

The requirements of citation sites are ever-changing, and even those that aren’t can treat the same parts of business data in different ways.

So to ensure we’re not just making a ‘one-and-done’ accuracy improvement, we’ve built an internal system that monitors and evolves with the directories themselves, intelligently analyzing site requirements and segments of business information.

We have invested over 700 hours of development time into building an intelligent business data (e.g. NAP data) analysis engine that understands the thousands of permutations that can create inconsistency and confusion in a business’s online profiles.

This scalable engine is able to find and analyze millions of listings across hundreds of directories to correctly identify complete, accurate and even inaccurate listings faster than ever before.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on in this system behind the scenes:

  • Granular understanding of subtle variations in core parts of business data in every country we operate (e.g. ‘W’ vs ‘West’, ‘Suite, Ste, #’, street address anomalies)
  • Normalization and validation of phone numbers with hyper-local understanding of area codes and extensions in every country we operate
  • Ongoing learning and automatic optimization of the data needed to most accurately find and match listings on over 230 individual directories

In testing we’ve been able to eliminate the vast majority of false positives, leading to a significantly cleaner, and more accurate set of profiles being found.

This intelligent analysis of business information data is a big part of the evolution of our data accuracy control behind the scenes.

2. Extended NAP Comparison to Include Street Address

We recently extended our NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) analysis in Citation Tracker to include a comparison of Street Address.

Each citation report now compares the street address in your report settings to the street address displayed on listings on Key Citation sites, highlighting any inconsistencies and providing error statistics to show you the full scale of your NAP errors.

This improvement makes it even easier for you to identify and fix NAP errors that create confusion for your customers, and for search engines.

This ability to compare and identify issues with street address is being rolled out to our Citation Builder and Local Search Audit tools very soon.

3. Automatic Cleanup of ‘Dead’ Citation Sites

The citations ecosystem is always evolving, with new sites launching and gaining credibility while others shutter their websites.

To ensure the ongoing accuracy of our Citation Tracker reports, we needed to find a way to deal with citation sites that close down but that still appear in the citation lists in your reports.

To tackle this growing problem, we extended the capabilities of our citation finding engine to audit and remove any citations which no longer exist (i.e. those which return a 404 or 410 error result).

We have incorporated this additional check into every Citation Tracker report and we automatically audit and remove ‘dead’ citations when a report updates and re-runs every 30 days.

We alert you inside your report when we have identified and removed any dead citations so you know why adjustments to your report have been made.

Dead Sites Alert

4. Giving you Greater Control of Your Citation Tracker Reports

While we’ve worked hard to provide better accuracy for you or your clients, we’ve also been adding features that give you more control over your Citation Tracker reports, including:

A new option to easily remove incorrect NAP business details (found in the ‘Actions’ column)

Delete data

The ability to perform bulk actions for multiple citations in the Key Citations table

Bulk Actions

A new section for ‘Archived Citations’, perfect for when you want to hide citations from an external client report but still track them internally.

Archived Citations

5. Even More ‘Quality of Life’ Improvements

All these improvements to accuracy are for naught if the tool isn’t easy to use in the first place. That’s why we’re continually making updates to the performance, usability and ‘common sense’ in our tools.

Here’s what we’ve been working on to make the experience of using Citation Tracker easier and more enjoyable:

Renamed tabs and tables to better reflect the types of citations reported, and explanations included for added clarity

Renamed tabs

Improved UI of Key Citations scoring (and inclusion of ‘Found’ vs ‘Not Found’ report metrics)

Key Citations score

Updated visual style for the ‘Live Citations Growth’ chart, providing an easier-to-understand glance at citations over time

Live Citations Growth

Improvements in usability of the ‘Citation Information’ popup

And That’s Just the Start…

As you can see in the examples above, we view data accuracy as a critical requirement of our service and are committed to the ongoing investment in the money, time and brainpower needed to deliver incremental improvements.

What I’ve described here really is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the constant, improvements being worked on all the time by our team. We have some exciting new features launching in Q2 (around June) that I know you’ll love… alas, I’ve been asked not to spill the beans on those just yet!

Finally, I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to every customer who took part in our product surveys and shared their feedback honestly and selflessly with us. It gives us clear direction on where and how to keep improving BrightLocal to serve you, and helps move us ever closer to our goal of making local marketing simple.

‘Thank you!’

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