It’s that time of year again! You’ve been slammed with pulling together quarterly reports, consumed with the launch of a new website, anxious about upcoming Google algorithm updates, and preoccupied with planning strategies and projections that need to be completed on time and within budget.
As your list of tasks begins to grow bigger than Steph Curry’s career stats, you tend to forget about some of the fundamentals of SEO. Over time, some maintenance (or TLC, if you will) is needed for SEO tasks you did previously to keep your business at the top of the search results and clean from older tactics that may not be as effective as they were before.
One local SEO fundamental that often is overlooked is local citations. A while back, you probably used a service like BrightLocal or Whitespark to automate your citation building efforts or even manually submitted your NAP (Business name, Address, Phone number) to a few authoritative directories. Once these listings are up, you dust your hands off, then set it and forget it.
Over time citations can become inconsistent, especially if you have multiple tracking numbers or have changed your business address. Data aggregators (Infogroup, Acxiom, etc.) can pull in inaccurate data and that data can be syndicated to other directories which Google crawls. To truly reap the benefits of robust citations, you need to be sure that they are accurate. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t fret over slight variations like Street vs. St. or (888) 888-8888 vs. 888-888-8888.
How to Start the Cleanup Process
It’s known in the digital marketing world that a consistent NAP on local citations has influence on rankings. If the information begins to get messy, Google can put less trust in the accuracy of your Google My Business listing and lower your rankings.
With a busy schedule, scouring the web for every inaccurate citation may not be feasible. So, below are a few paid services that can help jumpstart your citation audit. The tools have relationships with popular directories and can send them accurate data from their platform.
- Moz Local
- Express Update
- BrightLocal Citation Tracker
These tools not only can help automate the cleanup process, but can offer some good insight to what the common problems are with your citations.
Fine Tuning Your Citations
With a bulk of the work knocked out, you can dig a little deeper to identify some additional sites that the tools above didn’t catch. This is more of a manual effort, but definitely beneficial to your local SEO efforts.
You can use search operators on Google search as a tool to help you discover inconsistencies. You may need to get creative using search operators depending on what is wrong with your citations.
For example, let’s say you are noticing and old number with the area code 619 showing up on your listings. You can use the search operator below on Google to show results with the wrong number.
619-888-8888 -858-888-8888 +”Business Name”
Use search operator queries that include the phone number with dashes and parenthesis and without them, so you get a comprehensive list of results. The “-“ in front of the 858 number tells Google to exclude results that have that number listed.
Some other search operator examples are below.
Finding Citations with Correct Phone Number but Incorrect Business Name
858-888-8888 –“Business Name”
Finding Incorrect Business Name on a Specific Directory
Site:directory.com “Incorrect Business Name” -858-888-8888
Finding Correct Business Name with Incorrect Address
“Business Name”+”Incorrect Address”
You can compile a list of all your citations and begin the tedious task of reaching out to these directories/sites to request an address update. You also may have a login to the site that you can use to update the citation.
BONUS: Local Link Building Tips
There are plenty of link opportunities when you are a small local business. Below are a few different techniques you can use to help with your local link building as well as get some additional citations.
Do you host monthly seminars, instructional meetups, public holiday events, etc.? You can use these events as a way to get your events (and website) published on local publications with high domain authority. Not only are you advertising your event, but getting a link to your site and possibly a citation from where the event is held. The events don’t need to be huge productions, just any type of event that is open to the public. As additional bonus, I’ve put together a list of local publications in San Diego that you can submit your events to. Fill Out the Form Below to Download a List of Local San Diego Publications to Submit Your Business Events.
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Has your business ever been featured in a news story? If so, you may be missing out on a link opportunity. Generally, local news publications will mention your brand name without linking to your site. If you site is not linked to, you should reach out to the editor or writer to inform them of the missing link.
In your message, you should include why linking to your website will benefit their audience. For example, you could mention that your website has additional product information or articles tools that will benefit their readers.
Are you a member or done any volunteer work for a local organization? You may want to send a friendly outreach message to these organizations about being listed on the site as a member or contributor –they may even include your NAP. While many associations have a membership page with member’s names, they may not have included a link or address. It’s always good to review these areas to scope out any link/citation opportunities.
Clean Up Your Citations for Spring
With spring in full swing, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your local SEO and identify where you can improve and leverage your business assets for link opportunities and citation building. Don’t forget to use the form to get the list of local San Diego publications where you can submit your business events.
Looking for more tips on local marketing? Download our whitepaper: 10 Local Marketing Mistakes that Risk Your Business’ Visibility