Citation Cleanup: What It Is & How It Works
Do you want to rank locally? The main issue with ranking in local search results is inconsistent citations. It is important to provide relevant, accurate, and consistent information to potential customers if you want them to trust you.
Citation cleanup helps to ensure consistency in your business directories. In this article, I will discuss what citations are, why citation cleanup is important, how to clean up your citations to improve your local SEO results.
What are Citations?
A citation refers to the mention of a business online or in print. Due to the nature of our present world, I will consider the online mentions in this article. Your online citations include your website URL and your business’ NAP data.
Local citations play a key role in the SEO and online visibility of local businesses. A citation that has a link to the website of a business even yields better results.
Citations are found in online data sources (like directories, social media, data aggregators, and review websites) and map listings (such as Bing Places and Google My Business).
Types of Citations
There are different types of citations. SEOs usually argue about citations that have more value than others. However, the following citations are necessary to improve your website’s SEO performance:
Google My Business
There are many websites where potential websites can be listed. However, not all these websites are relevant to the service you offer. This is why we have citation categories.
We have different types of citations for different types of businesses. Although some citations have a higher domain authority than others, the citation’s category relevancy is more important than its domain authority. This is why you need to be listed in a category that is relevant to your industry.
How Citation Cleanup Works
Citation cleanup involves detecting, editing, and updating your existing citations and getting rid of duplicates. A citation cleanup service usually comprises the following actions:
- Manually detecting and editing incorrect citations and repetitions.
- Analyzing the existing citations to find inconsistencies in the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of the business, and correcting the details while getting rid of duplicates.
- Removing incorrect information or citations from business directories.
- Including business descriptions in the directories.
- Including photos, categories, and keywords in your citations.
- Refreshing your company’s data whenever the need arises.
We will take a more detailed look at the citation cleanup process later in the article.
Benefits of Citation Cleanup
It creates citation consistency
Your listings need to be found on the most relevant websites in the local search results. However, it is more important to provide consistent data to these websites as inconsistent data can hurt your business’s visibility.
It helps in discovering bad links
If you want your ranking on search engines to be consistent, what you need goes beyond accurate citations. You also need to get rid of bad links that are following your business. Citation cleanup helps you to discover these bad links.
It helps in getting rid of duplicate citations
In case you don’t know, there may be duplicate citations of your business. You can find and remove these duplicates through citation cleanup.
It helps in updating inconsistent citations
After searching and marking all inconsistent citations, you can then convert them to correct citations. This will improve your visibility in local search results and also make prospective customers trust your business.
Why is Citation Consistency Important?
By presenting your company properly online, you will be able to effectively promote your business and also attract more leads. Building citations help you to provide correct information about your business to prospective clients. It also provides accurate SEO material to search engines, thereby increasing your rankings and improving your online visibility.
It is important to have correct NAP in all business directories to ensure consistency in your citations. The NAP signifies:
- The correct name of your company.
- The current address, and
- An updated phone number.
Apart from these, every citation must also contain a website’s website, more information, and a call-to-action.
Having inconsistent NAP details in any business directory can hurt your SEO result and negatively affect your local search ratings. It can also make the search engines and prospective clients see your business as being unserious. Having consistent details about your business will earn customers’ trust and also present your business as being legitimate.
How to Carry Out a Citation Cleanup Process
Step 1: Note All NAP Variations
The first step in cleaning up your citations is to note the possible NAP variations. Use a spreadsheet to record the data you will find in this step and the next steps. Discover the information that is online about your business. You can color code the data so that you can understand them better. For instance, you can list the correct variations in green while the incorrect ones can be listed in red.
The spreadsheet (where you will record the data you find) will have different columns. These columns can include the following:
- Website: Here, you will add the address of the source of the citation. This is done for easy tracking.
- Name and address of business: Add the business name and address gotten from the citation here. If the name and address of the business are not correct, still add them. You will correct them in the steps that will be discussed later.
- State and Zip: Add the business’s state, city, and zip as you got them from the citation.
- Links: Include the URL that your citation links to here.
- Live Listing: Include the citation’s URL here for easy reference.
- Issues: State the issues you discover with any citation. For instance, “Duplicate and Incorrect Address.”
- Duplicates: Add the URL of all duplicates that you discovered.
Status: As stated earlier, you can color code the status to indicate the problem and solution required. For instance, if a citation has no problem, you can mark the citation in green. If a citation has a minor problem but requires a correction, mark the citation in yellow. If the problem needs to be corrected on priority, mark such citations in red.
Step 2: Check for Incorrect NAP
After coming up with a list of NAP variations, further your research by following these steps:
Go through the BBB listing
BBB’s listings help you to know additional business names, phone numbers, and addresses. You can find the NAP variations for your business from these listings.
Confirm from the Secretary of State’s Filing for Business
Some Secretaries of State have online search platforms where you can know the business owner. You can search for duplicates on these platforms. You can also see if your business has been filed under a DBA or has been given a fictitious name. These platforms can be used to check your business name and how it is registered.
Confirm the changes made in Google Map Maker
The Google Map Maker can help you to know the edit history of a business. If you want to know the edits made for your business, simply search for your business on Map Maker, go to the History and select ‘Show All Changes’ to see the edits made. This will help you see how your business’ NAP has changed over time and also record the changes made in the past.
Check the Nap variations that relate to your business
Google My Business integrates the reviews on other sites if Google recognizes your business. All you need to do is to go to the “Manage Reviews section” and click on “Reviews from around the world.” Here, you will be able to see the listings of all reviews and the NAP for the citation.
Step 3: Simplify the Citation Cleanup Process with Tools
After listing the possible NAP variations, search the web to know how your NAP is listed on different top directories. It can be tiring and time-consuming when you do this manually. There are tools that you can use to simplify this process. Some of these tools include:
This tool’s free scan feature will show your business’s NAP on top directories. It will also help you detect incorrect listings.
WhiteSpark Local Citation Finder
The free version of this tool can be used to search for inconsistencies in your citation across top directories. This is done by providing your phone number, address, and business name.
Other tools that you can use to detect inconsistencies in your citation include:
- Moz Local
- Advice Local, and
- Universal Business Listing
Step 4: Audit Your Citations
To audit your citation, go back to the spreadsheet you filled in step 1 and start with the priority items (i.e. those you marked in red). Contact the directory website. Leave the color of the column unchanged until the citation is correct. Some of the directory websites may permit you to claim the listings while some may ask you to get in touch with them for verification. The next step talks about how to get in touch with directory websites.
Step 5: Contact Directory Websites
The tips listed below will help you get in touch with directory sites and also fix your listing:
- Check if there is an option where you can claim your listings on the directory site. This is the easiest and fastest way to fix your listing.
- Use your official email ID when sending a request via email. This shows that you’re credible. It also speeds up the verification process.
- Some websites use an automated system for verification. So you must be ready to receive some calls and give the right phone number.
- If you want to get in touch with the website via email, send a clear and concise request (in order words, go straight to the point).
Citation cleanup is a crucial process that influences both local and overall SEO. Ensuring NAP consistency will help you attract targeted and valuable traffic from local search engines. It will also increase your visibility in search engines since the cleanup process would have increased your rankings in local search results.
The citation cleanup process does not have to be a manual and a boring process. A professional citation cleanup service provider will help you increase store visits and get more calls by providing accurate, updated, and consistent information about your business on your business listings.