No matter what kind of business you run, you want it to rank high on Google. If your business is buried on the third page, it’s a simple and inconvenient fact that very few people will ever find it.
While SEO can seem complex, one aspect of it that affects your ranking and the ability of customers to find you is citations. Incorrect listings will hurt your SEO, while accurate ones will enhance your SEO and contribute to your rankings.
Discover what a citation is, why it matters, and what you can do to fix yours in order to ensure that they’re on point for your business.
Citations and Listings Defined
NAP is an acronym that refers to your business name, address, and phone number. It’s beneficial for any business to have their NAP data listed as many places as possible online, because it not only guides people to your site but also contributes to your SEO.
3 Factors that Determine How Citations Influence Rankings
It’s important to know that your citations will influence your rankings — whether it’s a positive or negative change depends on how accurate they are, in addition to these three other factors:
- Number of Citations
- Accuracy of Citations
- Quality of the Sites They’re Listed On
Benefits to Taking Control of Your Listings
Making the decision to take control of your listings comes with major benefits for your business, including:
- Regain control of your reputation online.
- Consolidate reviews so you can easily reply to them.
- Have the ability to manage and change your listings if necessary
- Be accurately found by clients who search for your service.
4 Steps to Fixing Your Listings
If your business was previously owned or there was a different business at your location before you got there, then odds are you have some inaccurate citations floating around online.
Since these inaccurate listings may be leading potential clients astray and negatively impacting your SEO, it’s crucial to fix them so they accurately reflect your NAP data.
Here are four steps to fixing your online listings:
1. Identify the Correct Variations of Your NAP Data
Do you have more than one phone number that’s appropriate for your business? Does your name go by one or more variations that are all popular and acceptable? These are important factors for any entrepreneur to decide before changing their listings.
The best case scenario is that all of your citations are identical, but to be useful, so they’re not damaging your reputation, it’s important that the name, numbers, and address effectively leads to your place of business. Only you as the owner can decide what’s acceptable.
Example: The Citations of Attorney Phillip Linder
The citation list below shows the citations of Dallas Attorney, Phillip A. Linder. As you can see, there are different variations of his name, but each still includes his name and is accurate enough to point clients in the right direction. The fact is, even though these are all different spellings of his name, they’re still accurate.
Only you as the business owner can decide which variations of your name and NAP date are acceptable to post online. Tools like Bright Local, the SEO program used in that image, can make it easy to track and clean your citations.
2. Check the Most Important Listings First
Not all listings are created equal. Having an inaccurate listing on HotFrog is much less of a problem than having inaccurate information on Google, Bing, or Yelp. That’s why it’s crucial to check these types of high-priority sites first. Plus, doing it this way makes the process much less overwhelming.
List of 10 High Priority Sites to Check First
Once you verify that these higher priority sites have accurate business information, you’ll be ready to ensure that your citations are clean throughout the rest of the internet.
3. Use a Free Online Tool to Find Your Faulty Citations
The idea of scouring the internet for potentially dozens or hundreds of faulty citations is overwhelming, but luckily there are free tools that simplify the process.
By simply typing your business name and other simple information into these sites, they’ll give you an overview of your citation progress and tell you which listings have incorrect data.
Which Free Sites are Best for Finding Bad Citations?
While sites like Bright Local and Yext let you go in depth to find and fix your citations, some online sites allow you to run a report for free. Try these to see how your citations measure up online:
Either of those options will allow you to view the citations that need to be changed and to get a solid glimpse at your overall SEO progress online.
4. Take Time to Fix Them and Track Your Progress
Now that you know which sites have your information wrong, you can visit those sites and make the necessary changes. Sounds easy, right? Well, in some cases it is, but others require a little more time and effort.
What to Expect When Fixing Your Citations
Consider the following examples of what you’re likely to encounter when fixing your citations on various sites.
Cleaning up your listings on some sites is just as easy as you might expect. For sites like Yelp, YellowPages, YellowBot, and SuperPages, all you’ll have to do to submit a change is click the option to edit or submit changes and from there, you can easily correct your listings.
Not all sites are extremely easy to fix. Some make it more difficult to find their contact information and may not even supply a phone number or email address to their customer service department.
Typically, the goal of sites like these is to force entrepreneurs to become deeply invested, claim their listings, and ultimately to subscribe to their paid services. Fixing these sites may require you to jump through a few more hoops, but it’s still worth the time and effort.
A small percentage of sites make it particularly challenging to fix your information. For example, Yasabe is a site that charges $75 just to claim your listing, which is a necessary step towards fixing it.
Not every entrepreneur wants to drop money to fix one listing, but some sites have hurdles like this which will require you to decide whether it’s worth your time and resources.
Listings are a Vital Piece in Your SEO Puzzle
Neglecting your online listings means you have no control over your reputation, local SEO, or how potential clients perceive you online. By following these steps and taking control of your online strategy, you position yourself to keep your reputation pristine and maximize your SEO so you can be found by the right people.
About the Author
Nick Napier: After serving 7-years in the Navy and traveling to 22 countries, Nick settled in San Diego where he earned his MBA. He currently works as an SEO Specialist while hosting the Rogue Writers Podcast and writing a wide variety of content on a daily basis.