Before we get into building citations, let’s first discuss the term “lo-so” or “lo-social”. It stands for “local social” and refers to the plethora of social media sites popping up that are particularly relevant to local brick-and-mortar stores, such as FourSquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt, etc. I’m not too smitten with the term just yet, but realize that everything these days is getting a “cute” nickname, so why not a collection of location-based websites.
OK, moving on.
If you’re familiar with local search at all, you already know that citations are a major part of the local ranking algorithm, just as inbound links are to the organic ranking algo. Obtaining web citations can be a long, arduous process that is slow to pay off. Do know that all of that hard work is worth it, but the more automated you can make that process, the better, IMHO. I work with a number of local clients and am always looking for more efficient ways to gain new citations that doesn’t require me spending all of my budget searching for them.
I recently started to look into whether or not Google Maps was indexing some of these lo-so sites, it turns out they are. Here are a few screenshots to show what I’m referring to. I am writing this post from Anvil HQ in Portland, OR, however, notice the business locations in each screenshot. I’m noticing that biz info is very sparse, but if you put a geo-modifier in the query you’ll get more localized results (i.e. portland site:foursquare.com)
The fact that Google is indexing these sites within Google Maps provides additional opportunities to obtain citations. At this point, since most of these lo-so sites are so new, it’s tough to determine how much clout they have as trusted/credible sites, but you can include your business name, address and phone number (which are the 3 pieces of info needed for a citation). I would highly recommend creating profiles on all of the sites I mentioned above, if for no other reason than to get a web citation from it (and brand reputation). Ideally, you’ll start using these tools to help drive additional foot traffic, promote coupons/deals and listen to customer tips/complaints, but if you don’t have the time or inclination, just securing them now is a good start. I would consider speaking with someone who understands this space to figure out how to use these tools, as they can be extremely effective.
Once you’ve set up profiles on all of the major lo-so sites, I suggest using a service like KnowEm.com to finish the job. KnowEm is a simple service that will help automate the creation of hundreds of social media profiles (yes, there are literally hundreds out there) in just a few days, versus doing it over a couple of weeks or months. All you need to do is input your business information, photos and bio. Their team does the rest. It runs from their simplest service at $99 to an enterprise service priced at $600. Many of these sites may not count as citations for local search, but many do allow links in your profile, which will then count as an inbound link (and will help your organic results).