How to find and fix bad citations?

Citations are a fantastic way to lift your local business’ marketing to another level. If customers can find you easily online, they will easily visit your website and shop for your products and services. However, there is one issue that commonly happens to small businesses – and they are bad citations. To find out what they are, and how to deal with this challenge, continue reading. Here’s everything you need to know about how to find and fix bad citations and help your business online presence even more.

Why focus on cleaning up bad citations?

Well, when running a local business, it’s all about your customers. Their experience related to your products, services, but also looks and the online image will affect their satisfaction and help (or not) to make them a returning customer. So, the most common way a person would look for a local business is by an online search on their mobile. One of the first results they’ll see is citations – probably on Yelp, Google Maps, a social network profile, etc.

The information on these sites needs to be accurate, and also it should match the information on your official website. If that’s not the case, the customer will be confused, and probably search for something else. Therefore, don’t overlook the importance of the information you post online, but also all the other places where someone might look your business up. And finally, don’t focus on the number of citations only. The quality matters, too. Focus on the accuracy, authority, and consistency of your citations to get the best results.

google search on a mobile display
High-quality citations bring you closer to your customers.

What are bad citations?

First things first, let’s see what counts as a bad citation. To be able to find and fix bad citations, you need to know what falls under that term. Once you set up an official NAP in Google My Business, you, therefore, have the template to follow. It will also help you decide if a citation is good or bad – if it’s consistent with the official NAP or not. Incorrect citations happen due to various reasons, such as relocation of your business, changing the phone number, appearance of name variations, mistakes in data aggregators, etc.

Apart from the formatting, pay closer attention to the accuracy of the contact details. It can only be one letter or number that makes a huge difference. So, every citation that is not completely correct is considered a bad citation and may confuse potential customers. Even the citations you didn’t create should get your attention in the cleaning up process.

How to find and fix bad citations?

Now it’s time to fix these problems. Since there could be many citations for your business on the internet, you should start with those most relevant to your niche. Consider the top citation sources and start checking the most important ones first.

The first step – identification

To make sure you’re fixing the right citations, you need to identify bad ones first. We recommend using a spreadsheet, where you would list all the variations of your business’ name and other detail. Having them all in one place will help you compare and see the mistakes easily. To make sure you have the complete list, be sure to check all the variations on Google My Business – visit the section Manage Reviews, and see the citations made with reviews about your business.

Also, check the BBB listing for your business. They often provide additional information that can help you find NAP variations. And finally, check Google Maps – go to Google Map Maker and check for edits made by other users. All of these variations will help you see how is your business shown in top directories, and in that way assist in identifying mistakes.

mistakes in trying to find and fix bad citations
When you need to find and fix bad citations, identifying mistakes is the first step.

Fixing citations process

Now it’s time to correct everything that you’ve found. Remember, ignoring the bad citations and adding correct ones will not make any difference. That’s why always focus on updating bad citations, rather than creating new correct ones. Furthermore, we advise you to keep track of these updates, so you don’t forget where you’ve made any corrections.

Helpful tools

As this process can be very time-consuming, try using some of the tools to help you find and fix bad citations across the most important citation sources. Furthermore, to save yourself time, contact professionals who can help you with citation cleanup and building new, high-quality citations.

Essential steps

After identifying bad citations and duplicates, it’s time to make them good again. Again, begin with those that matter the most – places where your business is most recently spotted. If the site allows it, you can do the audit directly, without contacting the admins.

However, in many cases, you will have to reach out to the directory websites and ask them to do that for you. Contact the directory site by sending an email, showing the details of your citation and the changes. Use your official email and number, and post a short and informative request. Provide all the necessary links, state the problem clearly, so admins can have all the necessary information, and allow the changes.

office supplies one needs to find and fix bad citations
Be ready for this process – keep track of the changes and do it systematically.

Invest the energy into your business’ growth

Don’t be afraid of this process. We from the AZ Citation Services know that it takes effort to find and fix bad citations, but you’re investing that energy into your business’ growth. Your customers, as well as Google, will certainly award the effort by good rankings and successful sales. Make sure that your business pops up every time a relevant keyword is searched, and you’ll see the true power of citations.

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