The importance of citations is easy to understand once you look at them from the viewpoint of a search engine. Namely, they act as credible sources of information related to your business. And, while cleaning up your citations may be a long and tedious process, it is well worth the effort. Just remember that you are doing it for the sake of bettering your work. So, without further ado, AZ Citation Services brings you the best ways to clean up your citations.
- The first thing you should start with is the citations that are specific to your city and industry.
- Second thing – keep a list of directories on which you have previously updated the NAP. This will allow you to follow up with these directories with greater ease. It will also turn out to be very helpful for you to audit your citations after a while. Know that you can use a spreadsheet for this action.
- Thirdly, make sure that you don’t just add new citations. Instead, you have to update the old ones.
Why is citation cleanup important?
Your citations are credible sources of information related to your business and that is the reason why they are so important. As you can imagine citation cleanup is not very fun and interesting. Still, it needs to be done. It will be worth your while.
Where to get useful information?
You can get all information you need online. Internet (mainly Google) knows everything. You can become an expert in this area. All you need is the time and dedication to learn everything there is about citations. You don’t have to. Another option is to find people to help you and we will show you later on who is that but now we need to get back to finding you a good source of information. That will be the AZ Citation Service website so make sure to check it out. Now when we covered this we can start talking about today’s topic – citation cleanups.
How to cleanup your citations in 6 easy steps?
You have to identify all possible NAP variations. It is best that you use a spreadsheet to record all data that you will encounter in this step, as well as in the next ones. You will then have to do a bit of research, and find out what information is on the web regarding your business. A good system of keeping the list clear, convenient, and comprehensible is to color code it. Perhaps use green for all the correct variations and red for all the incorrect ones.
For example, if your company is named ‘The Royal Move”, the incorrect NAP variation would be ”The Royal Movers”, or ”Royal Moving”. The correct NAP needs to have the correct name, address, and contact.
- Identify all NAP variations (NAP is short for name, address, and phone number for your business) – sometimes wrong address or a phone number doesn’t have to be your own fault but you need to find it and correct it.
- If you find the wrong NAP investigate further
- Use all available tools to help you like Synup and WhiteSpark Local Citation Finder (there is a free version)
- Your next step is the actual cleanup which we will continue talking about obviously
- Audit your citations
- If needed reach out to websites to fix any mistakes involving your listings
You want to have better SERP (search engine result pages) visibility and this will help you. Google especially is looking to find consistency in the information. That means that the more accurate (and consistent) your citations are the better it will be for your business. Your business will rank better in local searches. Making sure that your citations are consistent is called citation cleanup and this is how you should do it:
- Make sure that your address is USPS verified
- Update your NAP if needed on your website
- Audit and build citations on data feeds and directories
- Make sure that the remaining existing citations are all consistent
This is pretty much it. As you can see it’s not so hard and yet it can be pretty time-consuming. Especially when it comes to building citations. That’s why many people seek help from professionals.
You will have to investigate for incorrect NAP online
Finding the incorrect NAP online can be time-consuming and a bit laborious, but it is crucial work if you want to clean up your citations. So, once you have completed the previous action, know that you will have to come up with a list of NAP variations yourself. To do this, follow these steps:
- Check the BBB Listing
BBB’s listings display additional business names, as well as phone numbers, and addresses. This will be of tremendous help when finding the NAP variations for your business.
- Find changes made in Google Map Marker
You may have already known that you can view the edit history of a business on Google Map Marker. To do this, simply search for a business on the Map Maker, and go to the History tab. Then, select ”Show All Changes” and you will be able to see all the previous edits. Note all the NAP changes that have occurred over time, and make sure to record all variations.
- Check all NAP variations that are associated with your business
If your business is recognized by Google, Google My Business will integrate all reviews on other websites. To check these listings, you will have to go to the “Manage Reviews section” and view “Reviews from around the world”. Once there, you will be able to check the NAP for citations.
Owning a business can be very hard and let’s not forget time-consuming. That’s why outsourcing any part of your business is a legitimate thing to do if you don’t have the time to do everything on your own. Dealing with the legal part of your business is something you want to outsource. For bigger companies, people hire in-house lawyers for smaller ones you can have a lawyer on call.
The second most common thing people outsource is SEO. Most likely because it can get pretty complicated and if you don’t handle things properly it can damage your business. Dealing with citations is part of the local SEO and that is something that a good SEO expert can help you with. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t have the time to do all this since there are people that can help you.
Use tools to simplify the cleaning up of your citations
Upon listing all possible NAP variations, you want to scout the web and see how your NAP is listed across the top directories. However, doing it manually will cost you a lot of time, energy, and nerves. Luckily, there is a way to circumvent this by using certain tools:
- Synup is a free scan feature that will show your business’s NAP across top citation sources. It will also identify the incorrect listings.
- WhiteSpark Local Citation Finder offers a free version of its product. With it, you can search for inconsistencies across top directories by providing your phone number, location, and business name.
- You can also check Advice Local, Moz Local, and Universal Business Listing.
Now comes the actual cleanup process of your citations
Remember the spreadsheet we have advised that you create in the beginning? Now would be the time to turn to it. The way you should fill it would be as follows:
- Website – here add the address of the citation source, as it will ensure easy tracking.
- Business Name and Address – add the business name and address from the citations here. Make sure to add these even if they are wrong. It will be easy to correct them in the following steps.
- State and Zip – here add state, city, and zip as it is in the citation.
- Links – add the URL that your citation is linking to.
- Live Listing – here goes the URL of the citation, for easy reference.
- Issues – note all issues with the particular citation in this column.
- Duplicates – add the URL of any duplicates in this column
- Status – you can use color code for this, so as to indicate the problem and resolution. For example, if there is a problem with the citation, you can mark it red. For minor problems, you can use yellow, and if there is no problem, use green.
You would do this for every citation source.
This is something you need to do regularly. It’s crucial to make sure that your business details are checked at least once a month against key citation websites and data aggregators. If they are correct – great! If not, well you know what you need to do. The most important details are obviously the name of your business, address, and phone number. These need to be checked along with other details like your working hours, website, and such.
Reach out to websites and clean up your citations
Use these steps to finalize this process:
- Find out whether the website has an option where you are able to claim your listings. This is probably the fastest as well as the easiest way to clean up your citations.
- Make sure that you use your official email ID when sending a request. Not only will this establish a level of credibility, but it will also help with the verification process.
- Certain sites have an automated system for verification. For this reason, be ready to take a few calls and ensure you give the right number.
- When trying to contact the website through an email, make sure that you are clear and concise with your request.
Extensively analyzing is the key
We understand that this might sound awful but you need to make sure that your customers/buyers/viewers/readers can reach you and that they have all the good information. You cant mislead them or even worse – mislead Google search. So as you can see analyzing every existing citation is the only way to make sure that they are correct. Correcting or unifying them is something you need to do if you find anything wrong.
If you are panicking right now about your citations – you shouldn’t. Admittedly, this process to clean up your citations takes quite some time, but the result is more than rewarding. Just make sure to give some time for search engines to index new listings. Sooner than you know, you will see your business’s local rankings improve as clean data starts circulating. Good luck!