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No. 1553
July 18th, 2012

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Follow-up Study: The Best Citation Sources by Category

I’m excited to announce a follow-up to the last study (Best Citation Sources by City) this morning: the Best Citation Sources by Category for U.S. businesses.

As with the previous study, Darren and I used his Local Citation Finder tool and looked at some of the most common keywords within 70 local search categories across 53 large US cities, 20 medium-sized cities, and 20 smaller cities. We then scored the sites inversely based on ranking position combined with overall number of occurrences. The sites that appeared most often and with the highest rankings were deemed “best” within each category.

You’ll see some blue bars indicating the relative strength of each citation source within each industry.  Interesting to note the predominance of several national brands (State Farm Insurance, U.S. Bank, and Ameriprise, for example) as super-citations for agents or branches affiliated with those companies.

It’s also interesting (to me at least) to see the number of verticals for which Yelp appears to be such a primary citation source–on two fronts:

  1. One of Yelp’s continued brand battles is their insistence of the broad base of industries (beyond just the restaurant and retail verticals) for which they’re a destination site.  While this study largely correlates search rankings, it stands to reason that Yelp is getting a significant amount of engagement outside of those stereotypical categories–it was tops for auto repair, veterinarians, chiropractors, and more.
  2. After seeing the results of this study, I continue to find Eric Schmidt’s comment during last year’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing that Google is not “using Yelp’s content to drive business to Google Places” misleading.  It would represent one of the clearest cases of a Google “hand job” if Yelp’s content were somehow deemed so valuable by Google’s organic spiders and yet rendered irrelevant once it entered the +Local/Places part of the algorithm.  I suppose, though, that it depends what the definition of “business” is, and I’m definitely not a lawyer!

At any rate, big thanks to Darren for all his efforts on this study & I hope that it’s a resource that our community will reference for months, if not years!

  • Great stuff guys – what a valuable resource for U.S. business owners. Knowing the most authoritative citation sources for your business category and getting citations from them = better rankings.

  • David, do you think branded results should be removed from the list? You mention several examples above and there are several others within the results. I doubt if you owned a local pest control business, Terminex would be willing to link to your listing.

  • Awesome, thanks guys. Yelp and Yellow Pages really are dominating.

  • @Rich: David and I discussed that, and it was my thinking that we should leave those kinds of results in the list. If I was doing the SEO for a pest control company, it would be interesting to me to see Terminex showing so strongly in these results. It tells me that Google thinks they’re an authoritative and trustworthy source for pest control keywords across the entire country. I’d want to run some site searches, backlink analysis, and citation analysis on them to try to understand their strategy.

  • Thanks Darren & David! Great stuff here.

  • David + Darren:

    This is awesome. After the last study, I was hoping you’d do another one of these (and I hope there’s another one to come). Thanks for putting in all the work to make this happen.

    I’ve scraped the hell out of this and inevitably will be adding some sites to the Definitive Citations List 🙂

    @David and/or Darren

    I’d be *really* interested in your thoughts on why YP is so prominent across so many verticals. Yes, it’s an old site, and yes, Google seems to “trust” it quite a bit. But on the other hand, it doesn’t have much of a reviewer base (certainly when compared to that of the other dominant citation site, Yelp), and there is a LOT of junk floating around on YP in the form of duplicate and outdated listings. Obviously there’s no saying for sure, but I’m coming up a bit dry for specific reasons why YP is so prominent.

  • Awesome job gents! Any chance you guys will be doing another one for Canada or other countries?

  • Now if only you could get Google Places to add some better categoys. This is by far the best breakdown of directories to get listed on based on your industry. I love you breakout by city too. Keep it up guys.

  • Guys, I don’t think that the community can thank you enough for the work you do in helping us really get an understanding of the local SEO sphere. It still feels like there’s so much to learn and still a lot of evolution to occur (via the search engines). Now if you could just do one for the UK… 😉

  • Great stuff guys – what a valuable resource for U.S. business owners. Thanks Darren & David!

  • I was about to make the same comment as Rich because I noticed State Farm and Farmers’ websites were listed under the insurance category. Maybe as a follow up, it would be great to indicate whether the site listed is one you can submit your site to or not (since is not a site you can submit to).

    I can see why Darren would say that it would be a good idea to analyze the SEO strategy of these sites. The only reason why I somewhat disagree is because in the insurance example, there are THOUSANDS of links pointing to and I wouldn’t even want to start looking through them because a huge majority wouldn’t apply if I was a local insurance agent trying to get listed on Google.

  • Very cool to browse through the categories. I always find it useful to use these types of sources not just for citations but to actually build links/content/audience where your actual customers are going to see your business. Especially for a small business who may not have the budget to eventually be #1 in the SERPs.

  • Good list of citations. Problem I found with get listed is that there aren’t that many good Canadian citation lists.