Is this your first time managing citations? For local search, citations are an important ranking factor. Citation management and optimization can be complicated, but they can also be rewarding as well. It should be every website owner’s goal for their website to have a good SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) rank. Having a good SERP rank allows your company to be easily found and helps avoid confusion and misinformation. There are plenty of things that you can do in order to better your SERP like preventing duplicate citations and business info inconsistency. And the best way to find potential issues and clean up your citations is to perform a citation audit.
Where to learn about citation audit?
So, what does one have to do in order to execute one? Well, in this article, we are going to go over the most important aspects of performing the perfect citation audit. This citation audit guide is made for beginners and the ones who already know what they are doing.
If you have any more questions about citations you can always research the AZ Citation Sevices blog. You will be able to find a lot of useful information there. We made sure that we have there all the answers you might need. Also, we will leave you with additional texts that will clarify everything. Now that we sorted all of this we can begin our journey and by the end of it, you too will be able to perform the perfect citation audit guide.
The question you will see often is – what is a citation audit?
Surely you know all about this already but since we said that this guide is also for beginners we need to start from the very beginning by explaining what citation audit is and then we can show you some useful tips you will need for this. Citation Audits verify that your business information is correct by checking it against the most important citation websites and data aggregators. Along with the address and website, we double-check your NAP, the most critical piece of information. To ensure consistency, your name and contact information (NAP) should appear exactly the same on all of the most important websites. Do you know everything there is to know about building citations? If not, don’t worry – you are in good hands. We can show you that as well.
Tools you will need to perform a citation audit
Like any other project that you will undertake regarding your website, there are a couple of things you have to do in order to prepare. Before performing the citation audit you need to have a clear idea of what it is and why it is necessary. You also need to be aware of the necessary tools that will make performing the perfect citation audit possible. So, let’s first go over the necessary tools, and then look over the entire process in necessary detail.
An Excel spreadsheet can be used as well as a Google spreadsheet, so long as the spreadsheet can be easily accessible. We prefer to use Google Spreadsheets because we are able to easily share them whether it’s with clients or others. Multiple people can work on them at the same time. You can choose whatever you prefer we just suggested Google spreadsheet because it is more convenient.
Andrew Shotland’s free tool helped us create new NAPs. The NAP combinations are also saved during the google search. A Chrome extension is a better option because it’s faster and easier to use. This is another tool you will need so make sure to have it because this is a must-have tool for spinning NAP combinations and for not missing any during Google search and we think that it can come in handy.
When it comes to building a scraper, some companies use macro codes to create their own (unfortunately this is not available to the public but you can have people do it for you as well if you really need it one day). Whitespark LCF and BrightLocal Citation Tracker are two options for you right now. These scrapers will help you double-check your work and ensure that everything is in order.
The process of performing the perfect citation audit
Before you start performing the perfect citation audit we suggest that you first completely read our text. Each step that we will outline is important in order to properly tackle this process. Doing research is fundamental. Even SEO experts do research before they start working on new strategies. This is simply that kind of work where things change often and what was relevant a few months back – might not be today. So, make sure that you understand each step completely and that you have all the necessary tools (the ones we showed you above) before you start. There are other tools of course like Whitespark for example. So, this is a great place to start researching other tools. Now let’s see the steps we have prepared for you so you can perform the perfect audit.
Step 1: Gathering data
In order to get good results with your citation audit, you first need to gather the necessary data regarding your company. All the data you gather you will have to put in your spreadsheet in order to have easy access to it when necessary. In professional audits you will usually have to give:
- Current business name
- Phone number
- Relocation information
- Rebrand information
You also need to be aware of which data provider service you are using. Some services like UBL and Moz local automatically build citations to various sites. Knowing which cites are in question will help you down the road.
Step 2: Gathering NAP Variation
Once you’ve prepared your data you can start gathering the NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) variations. Any time you find a different NAP variation, you need to note it in your spreadsheet. Old business info or badly copied info should show up during your search, and you need to be aware of it in order to change it. To actually gather NAP Variations, there are a couple of methods you can opt for:
Using Map Maker
Google Map Maker is one of the commonly used methods for finding NAP Variation among professionals. To use it, you simply need to visit a mapmaker on Google and enter your business name. Once you find click on “Details” and then “History”. There you will find how many times your business info has been edited and when.
To use the Better Business Bureau, you first need to head to their website. There you need to choose your country and type in the name of your business. Once you find your business, you can check its profile and look for additional info (alternative business name, additional location, etc.)
Step 3: Manual audit
To perform a manual audit you will have to use the NAP Hunter. Simply open up your browser and click on the NAP Hunter Icon. Once you open it, you will be able to add NAP variations one at a time. For each variation, you can press the Hunt button. This should open up additional tabs in your browser, each of which is a Google search query of the NAP you entered. You should check each tab and see if the link directs to the right citation. Once you check the business info, make sure to properly record your progress in the sheet. Once you are done with your current NAP, type in a different one, and see what you will find.
Step 4: Check the data provider
Most data providers only support US businesses. Therefore, they are usually not available to other countries. So, when performing the perfect citation audit, try to check with various data providers about your website. To do so, you need to check whether your business is present on their data packets, as they may not appear on Google search results. Know that if you don’t do this, it will not matter how many times you try to alter incorrect business info. You may even get duplicates in GMB as the original data provider will simply continue to send incorrect business info.
Step 5: Categorizing NAP Variation
With the gathered data, you will need to categorize your NAP variations. To do so properly, you need to have an idea of what categories there are and how to sort through them. This boils down to how precise you want to be. After all, having only current and incorrect NEP variation may not be enough. Among the categories you should consider are:
- Correct NAP – fully correct NAP
- Incorrect NAP – completely incorrect, or useless NAP
- Acceptable NAP – slight error in the NAP format
- Duplicate citation
Can citation audit actually be perfect?
Auditing is a process that will never be perfect actually – but we are aiming for close enough. You won’t see them if they aren’t indexed. There are times when bad information spreads like wildfire. In spite of keeping track of all of your citations, some sites may scrape your information and create new ones without your knowledge. If that happens you will need professionals to do some serious citation clean-up. It’s imperative that you remain vigilant at all times. Quarterly citation audits are always a good idea in our opinion. When you know that your citations are not being copied and manipulated, you will be able to sleep at night. If you change anything like your address for example then you will have a lot of work ahead of you. Having your citations in order is a must.
If this is getting to be a little bit too much for you – there is help. Also if you see that your citations are a mess, you can’t allow that. You need to set everything right on your own or you can hire professionals to do it for you. The bigger your business and website get, the more you will have to outsource the workload. Citations always need to be in order so you may want to outsource this part. Luckily we can help you. Whether it’s by showing you how to do it by yourself or by doing it for yourself – the choice is yours. The only important here is that you know that you do have a choice and easy solutions.
Before we go we wanted to wish you the best of luck with your citations. If you want to continue learning about them – we gave you the resources to do so and if you prefer to let experts deal with this – even better. We showed you how to do it by yourself. Now it’s up to you. Good luck with performing the citation audit!