The Case of The Citation Screwup
My name is Art Williams. I'm a Citations Detective. It was a quiet Sunday night. I was sitting at home contemplating next week when I'm supposed to have a root canal. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? It's times like this when I need some cyber-screwups to distract me and lighten my mind up a little bit.
And then the phone rang. It was 'Bob'. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent). Bob sounded very frustrated. He explained to me that he has owned a hardware store in the city for several years but that he had recently moved and since that move his business had slowed down considerably.
Bob wanted to know if I could help. He said his business is very competitive and he was worried that somebody was trying to sabotage his business.
I said, "Well Bob…let's start with the facts. Nothing but the facts."
Bob said, "OK, but my wife doesn't have to know about this, does she?"
I said, "No Bob, it'll just be between us men. How's that?"
Bob said, "Oh that's wonderful. Let's roll!"
In my preliminary interview with Bob, I asked him if he got much business from the net. He told me, "Yeah, I do Facebook, a little Instagram, an occasional YouTube video, and I think I'm on a few directories like Google+, Yelp, Bing Places, Mapquest, Citisearch…..I don't know. It's hard to keep up with that kind of stuff, you know?"
That was my clue!
Bob didn't know it but maybe he already had the answer to his problem.
So I asked…. I said, "Bob, I wanna ask you something…and tell me the truth, OK, because this could be very important."
Bob said, "Sure Art, I wanna cooperate. I'll tell you whatever you wanna know but I don't think I know anything. That's why I called you, right?"
I said, "Ok Bob..OK, Ok….I know how you feel. Just relax. You work hard, you try to do what's right. But sometimes things just don't work out and now you're in trouble and you need an expert, right?"
Bob said, "Well, yeah…I guess you sorta hit the nail on the head."
I said, "Yeah Bob…that's why I've got this badge. I know we're on the phone but, trust me, I've got one. It says, 'Citations Detective'. It's very impressive but I try not to flaunt it."
So Bob said, "You've got a badge??!! Oh…Saints Be Praised!. Sure…sure…so, what's the question?! I'll tell you whatever you wanna know!! Just help me, please!"
Yeah, I could tell Bob was in a very emotional state of mind. After all… work all those years to build a business and then see it slip away like this for no apparent reason (that he knew of). Yeah, sometimes I have to walk a very thin emotional line in this business.
I said, "OK Bob. Here's the question. Listen very carefully: Did you or did you not change you name, address, and phone number on each and every one of those citation sites you told me you were listed on?"
The phone went silent.
I was just about to suspect something really serious was wrong but finally I heard Bob's quiet voice say, "Weeellll, no. I didn't. Why?"
Then I said, "Bob, I think I've solved your problem already. I think you've got a case of Citation Inconsistency. Do you realize how serious that could be?"
Bob said, "No….how serious is it?"
I went on to explain to Bob that Citation Inconsistency is potentially very serious if left untreated.
I explained to Bob that when there was inconsistent information on citation sites, review sites, social media sites, etc., that it confused not only old and potential new customers but it also even confused Google itself.
Bob said, "What do you mean. I'm innocent! I told you…I didn't do anything wrong!!"
I told Bob, "OK Bob. Just calm down buddy. I'm not saying you did anything intentionally wrong.. but let me explain something to you that every online business owner should know."
I went on to explain to Bob that if Google sees inconsistent information, pertaining to any business, on citation sites it is less likely to highly rank that business. The reason for that is because they (Google) doesn't want to publish information that could be wrong or incomplete. Information is, after all, their product, right?.
Bob listened in silence. In fact…he was so silent I had to ask him, "Bob. Does that make sense to you? You know what I'm saying, right?"
Bob said, "Yeah Art. It's all so clear now. Man….if I could do it again, I'd make sure that all those citation sites… of course there weren't really a huge number, but…wow…that little omission sure made a big difference didn't it. It cost me a lot of money! Even my wife noticed I'd been preoccupied lately."
I said, "Well Bob….at least you're willing to change. Everybody makes mistakes. But you are willing to do something about it, aren't you?"
Bob said, "Oh yeah…absolutely! I'll do anything I can to make it right again. What should I do?"
I then proceeded to tell Bob that part of my crusade as a Citations Detective was to not only find bad citations for business owners but also to help them correct the problem. I told him I had a highly trained staff who could find all of his incorrect citations and update them with the correct information that would put him back in the good graces of Google.
And I also mentioned that additionally, I could find out not only the exact number of citations his closest competitors had but also what citation sites they were using, thus enabling him to get those exact same sites his business. And I explained that if he just added about 10% more citations, he would outrank his competitors (at least as far as citations go).
So… I asked Bob if he was ready to take action and put a stop to how his SEO was hemorrhaging money. He said he was ready so I told him my secretary would send him some forms to fill out first thing on Monday morning so that me and my team could get to working on his problem.
Bob asked how long it would take before he started seeing any improvement in his business and I informed him that it took citation sites anywhere from a week to several weeks to update their databases and that he probably could start to see results in a couple of weeks. But I reminded him that the situation would continue to improve over the next 2 to 4 month as more of his newly updated citations went ´live'.
He sound excited about that.
And just to make sure I 'managed expectations' properly, I asked him, "How does that sound to you?"
He said, "Oh that sounds great, Art. I'm soooo glad I called you! How can I ever repay you?"
I reminded him that my secretary would send an invoice too but that the money we charged him would be a pittance in comparison to the advantage his website would enjoy with the proper citation strategy which we would be putting into place for him.
So Bob and I said, 'Goodnight', I sent my secretary an email and voice-mail to tell her what to do about setting Bob up as a new client first thing Monday when she came into the office. Me…I'm not a morning person so I don't usually get into the office til after lunch. And besides, I'll be up late thinking about that root canal. I think I'm gonna get drunk. God…I hate root canals.