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Audit and Fix Citations for
Local Search Gains
DARREN SHAW
Darren Shaw
Founder at Whitespark
darren@whitespark.ca
@EdmontonSEO
What’s a citation?
A citation is a mention of your business on the
web, typically in the format of Name, Address,
and Phone number. This is called your NAP.
For a more detailed explanation see:
http://www.whitespark.ca/blog/post/13-what-is-a-citation
What’s the problem with
inconsistent citations?
http://moz.com/blog/how-business-listings-made-whiteboard-friday
Public Company Filings
Telco & Utility
Information
NCOA
POI Compilation
Merchant
Submissions
Government Sources
U.S.
Business
Database
Web Research &
RSS Feeds
Yellow Pages
Content
Partner Feedback
Address
Standardization
& Hygiene
Phone
Verification
Standardization of
Elements & Duplicate
Removal
Quality
Assurance
Infogroup’s Data Compilation Process
2013 Local Search Ranking Factors
#3 = Consistency of Structured Citations
http://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors
You know how you can split link equity
by not 301ing or canonicalizing your
www and non-www version?
The same thing happens with your citations
Your Google listing
??
But there is no 301 redirect or canonical
directive for citations
So you must change the
address on this listing to
reclaim this citation
and associate it with your
Google listing
Your Google listing
If there is enough conflicting data a
duplicate will be created at Google
Primary listing Duplicate listing
2013 Local Search Ranking Factors
Fifth most harmful negative factor
http://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors
Don’t just create new listings, because that
will leave the old listings lying around
Your Google listing
??
X
Update the existing listings and those citations
will now point to the correct listing at Google
Your Google listing
Okay, inconsistent
citations are bad.
What are the benefits of
making them consistent?
John Denny: NAP is Fundamental
to Rankings
http://johnhdenny.com/451/nap-is-fundamental-to-rankings
His client had moved multiple
times and had changed phone
number multiple times.
After citation cleanup:
“they’ve gone from not showing
up in the search results for any of
their keywords to a #1 position for
two and top 3 positions for
another 4”
After cleaning up a mess of duplicate listings and incorrect NAP
data in the local search eco-system for a client, we were able
to take them from nowhere in the local rankings to page 1
local pack rank rankings for most of their target terms.
Mary Bowling
http://www.marybowling.com/
Our client had recently moved locations, but had never updated their
citations. After changing the address in Google themselves, within a
couple weeks’ time, they tanked. We started the cleanup in October ’12,
in most cases contacting each citation source manually, and by Christmas,
their listing went from the back of the bus, back to the front page.
Adam Steele
http://www.nightlitemedia.com/
CONVINCED?
LET’S DO THIS!
STEP 1
Gather all current and
inconsistent NAP data
Ask the business about:
Business names
Ask the business about:
Addresses
Ask the business about:
Phone numbers
Ask the business about:
Websites
Ask the business about:
Other businesses
Also, ask the business for:
Existing login information
STEP 2
Find and record all the
NAP variations
Step 2 is just a discovery
process to find all the NAP
variations out there.
Don’t start tracking all the
citations just yet.
The correct NAP
NAP #1
Stratford at Maple Leaf
9001 Lake City Way Ne, Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 729-1200
Listings with different phone numbers
Query:
“portion_of_business_name” -”phone_number” -”toll_free_number”
Use Linkclump (Chrome)
Or Multi Links (FireFox)
> Right-click and drag to
select a group of links
> Release
> They’ll all open in new
tabs
(Hat tip: Ross Hudgens)
Listings with different phone numbers
NAP #2
Stratford at Maple Leaf
9001 Lake City Way Ne, Seattle, WA 98115
(866) 344-4946
Listings with different phone numbers
NAP #3
Stratford at Maple Leaf
18605 17th Ave NW, Shoreline, WA 98177
(206) 542-4556
Listings with different phone numbers
As you discover different numbers, exclude each
of them from the query to refine your results
“portion_of_business_name” -”phone_number” -”toll_free_number” -”found_number1” -”found_number2”
Listings with same phone & different address
Query:
“portion_of_business_name” “phone_number” -”portion_of_address”
Listings with same phone & different address
NAP #4
Stratford at Maple Leaf
5604 17th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 729-1200
Like you did with phone numbers, as you
discover different addresses, exclude each of
them from the query to refine your results
“portion_of_business_name” “phone_number” -”portion_of_address” -”portion_of_address2”
Listings with same phone & different address
Listings with same phone & different
business name
Query:
“phone_number” -“portion_of_business_name”
NAP #5
Sound Health Management
9001 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 729-1200
Listings with same phone & different
business name
Listings with same phone & different
business name
Again, as you discover different business name
variations, exclude each of them from the
query to refine your results
“phone_number” -“portion_of_business_name” -“portion_of_business_name2”
NAP #6
Salon Maple Leaf
9001 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 729-1200
Listings with same phone & different
business name
Record each NAP variation in a spreadsheet
STEP 3
Determine which NAP
variations need to be fixed
Don’t worry about these kinds of variations
Street vs St
Northeast vs NE
Suite vs Ste
Floor vs Flr.
98115-8222 vs 98115
Stratford vs STRATFORD
(206) 729-1200 vs 206-729-1200
Google normalizes the address variations it
finds around the web
Check your normalized address with this tool. It uses the
Google Maps API:
http://aus-emaps.com/bulk_geocoder.php
These are variations you should worry about
Different business name > Same address/phone
Different phone > Same name/address
Different address > Same name/phone
Go through your NAP variations and note
which ones need to be fixed
I don’t need to worry about this one
STEP 4
Clean up incorrect data at
the most important data
sources
Don’t start with the citation sites. They
could be getting data from major data
providers.
Common Situation
You click here and update the listing
Don’t start with the citation sites. They
could be getting data from major data
providers.
Common Situation
But the site gets a feed from Localeze
Don’t start with the citation sites. They
could be getting data from major data
providers.
Common Situation
Two months later the listing shows up on the site again
Public Company Filings
Telco & Utility
Information
NCOA
POI Compilation
Merchant
Submissions
Government Sources
U.S.
Business
Database
Web Research &
RSS Feeds
Yellow Pages
Content
Partner Feedback
Address
Standardization
& Hygiene
Phone
Verification
Standardization of
Elements & Duplicate
Removal
Quality
Assurance
Don’t even start with the data aggregators,
as they receive data feeds as well.
So, here’s your order of operations
1) Government Sources
2) Phone Company
3) Utilities
4) Infogroup
5) Neustar Localeze
6) Acxiom
7) Other Primary Data Providers
8) Dun & Bradstreet
9) Factual
10) The rest of the web (including Yahoo)
11) Google & Bing
Government Sources
Many (most?) states
have a searchable
business registry on the
Secretary of State site.
Use your list of NAPs
and search for all
variations of the
business info.
Contact them to fix any
incorrect info.
Phone Company
Double check your NAP information on file at the telco
that the business deals with. Online billing is a good
place to start.
Utilities
Double check your NAP information on file at the
utilities that the business deals with. Online billing is a
good place to start.
Infogroup
Go to http://www.expressupdate.com and search for all
variations of business info on your NAP list.
Infogroup
To edit a listing you’ll need to log in (or create an
account) and claim the listing. They will phone verify, so
coordinate a time to claim with the business.
Important: add as much info as
possible to all the correct listings you
find. Use our citation building intake
form.
Neustar Localeze
Go to http://www.neustarlocaleze.biz and search for all
variations of business info on your NAP list. Claim and
enhance accurate listings; remove others.
Acxiom
Go to https://mybusinesslistingmanager.myacxiom.com/
and search for all variations of business info on your NAP
list. Claim and enhance accurate listings; remove others.
Other Primary Data Sources: CityGrid,
Superpages, Yellowpages, Yelp
Go to the URLs below and search for all variations of the
business info on your NAP list. Claim and enhance
accurate listings; remove others. They will all phone
verify, so coordinate the claims with the business.
http://www.citygrid.com/
http://www.supermedia.com/spportal/quickbpflow.do
http://www.yellowpages.com
https://biz.yelp.com/signup
Dun & Bradstreet
Another important and commonly scraped source. Search
for listings at http://www.dandb.com/businessdirectory
then claim, update, and enhance.
Factual
Factual’s location data is used by Apple Maps and a ton
of mobile apps (which sometimes publish their listings to
the web). It’s a great local data product that’s growing
in importance.
Factual
Search for listings at:
http://www.factual.com/data/t/places
If you find any inconsistencies,
contact them here to fix:
http://www.factual.com/contact?subject=data
What about Yext?
Great for:
New businesses that want to
build out key citations
quickly.
Standardizing primary
information on some of the
key citation sites.
Making changes across
dozens of citation sites near-
instantly.
Adding enhanced data to
some of your existing
citations.
Problems:
You only enter your existing
info to create an account, so
they miss many incorrect
citations.
They sometimes create new
listings on the sites leaving
existing listings as duplicates.
Only 30ish sites (rest are apps)
$499 yearly fee
When you cancel, the majority
of your listings go back to the
way they were. [1]
[1] http://www.ngsmarketing.com/what-happens-when-canceling-yext/
STEP 5
Find and record all the
citations across the rest of
the web
https://getlisted.org/static/resources/local-search-data-providers.html
Used with permission from David Mihm
Search Google for all accurate and
inaccurate NAP variations, but exclude
listings that are not a problem.
I don’t need to worry about this one
Search for all possible query combinations
Go through every result, determine if it
needs to be dealt with, and record the
listings in your audit spreadsheet.
Hmm…
Put all your queries into a custom report on
the Link Prospector
Set the depth to 1000
Load Whitespark’s list of 363 reverse phone
lookup sites into the exclusions
Add “site:/intitle” searches for Phil Rozek’s
Definitive List of Local Search Citations
to find duplicates
Press this button
Then go and relax
for a while
BEHOLD!
Your list de-duped, domain-grouped, PR &
DA sortable, with titles and descriptions.
Someone (probably not you) will still need to
go through them all and record listings
that need attention into a spreadsheet
Use our template!
STEP 6
Fix those citations!
Look for update information on each listing
that needs to be updated.
You're looking for things like:
• Update listing/business
• Correct listing/business
• Modify listing/business
• Claim listing/business
• Report listing/business
• etc
Google can help
"update * listing" yellowbook
"update listing on yellowbook"
"update * business" yellowbook
"update business on yellowbook"
"claim * listing" yellowbook
"claim listing on yellowbook"
"claim * business" yellowbook
"claim business on yellowbook"
"edit * listing" yellowbook
"edit listing on yellowbook"
"edit * business" yellowbook
"edit business on yellowbook"
If they have no claim/edit/update
functionality, contact them
Great outreach template here:
http://www.leanmarketing.ca/the-advanced-guide-for-citation-audits/
Be sure to contact them from an email
address on the domain for a MUCH higher
success rate
STEP 7
Now, finally, check
Google. Sure, Bing too.
Search Google Maps for duplicate listings
Search Map Maker too
Any problems that you can’t fix in the Places
Dashboard, fix through Map Maker
Any problems that you can’t fix in Map
Maker, get Google to call you!
Make sure you’re signed into
your Google account.
Go here:
https://support.google.com/places/contact/c2c_places
Fill in the form
Click the “call me” button.
Manage your Bing listings here:
https://www.bingplaces.com/
I have some resources for
you to download, but
please don’t share these
yet.
bit.ly/citation-audit
bit.ly/citation-audit
Thanks.
Any questions?
DARREN SHAW
darren@whitespark.ca
@EdmontonSEO

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Darren Shaw_SearchLove San Diego_Audit and fix citations for Local Search gains

  • 1. Audit and Fix Citations for Local Search Gains DARREN SHAW
  • 2. Darren Shaw Founder at Whitespark darren@whitespark.ca @EdmontonSEO
  • 4. A citation is a mention of your business on the web, typically in the format of Name, Address, and Phone number. This is called your NAP. For a more detailed explanation see: http://www.whitespark.ca/blog/post/13-what-is-a-citation
  • 5. What’s the problem with inconsistent citations?
  • 7. Public Company Filings Telco & Utility Information NCOA POI Compilation Merchant Submissions Government Sources U.S. Business Database Web Research & RSS Feeds Yellow Pages Content Partner Feedback Address Standardization & Hygiene Phone Verification Standardization of Elements & Duplicate Removal Quality Assurance Infogroup’s Data Compilation Process
  • 8. 2013 Local Search Ranking Factors #3 = Consistency of Structured Citations http://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors
  • 9. You know how you can split link equity by not 301ing or canonicalizing your www and non-www version?
  • 10. The same thing happens with your citations Your Google listing ??
  • 11. But there is no 301 redirect or canonical directive for citations So you must change the address on this listing to reclaim this citation and associate it with your Google listing Your Google listing
  • 12. If there is enough conflicting data a duplicate will be created at Google Primary listing Duplicate listing
  • 13. 2013 Local Search Ranking Factors Fifth most harmful negative factor http://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors
  • 14. Don’t just create new listings, because that will leave the old listings lying around Your Google listing ?? X
  • 15. Update the existing listings and those citations will now point to the correct listing at Google Your Google listing
  • 16. Okay, inconsistent citations are bad. What are the benefits of making them consistent?
  • 17. John Denny: NAP is Fundamental to Rankings http://johnhdenny.com/451/nap-is-fundamental-to-rankings His client had moved multiple times and had changed phone number multiple times. After citation cleanup: “they’ve gone from not showing up in the search results for any of their keywords to a #1 position for two and top 3 positions for another 4”
  • 18. After cleaning up a mess of duplicate listings and incorrect NAP data in the local search eco-system for a client, we were able to take them from nowhere in the local rankings to page 1 local pack rank rankings for most of their target terms. Mary Bowling http://www.marybowling.com/
  • 19. Our client had recently moved locations, but had never updated their citations. After changing the address in Google themselves, within a couple weeks’ time, they tanked. We started the cleanup in October ’12, in most cases contacting each citation source manually, and by Christmas, their listing went from the back of the bus, back to the front page. Adam Steele http://www.nightlitemedia.com/
  • 21. STEP 1 Gather all current and inconsistent NAP data
  • 22. Ask the business about: Business names
  • 23. Ask the business about: Addresses
  • 24. Ask the business about: Phone numbers
  • 25. Ask the business about: Websites
  • 26. Ask the business about: Other businesses
  • 27. Also, ask the business for: Existing login information
  • 28.
  • 29. STEP 2 Find and record all the NAP variations
  • 30. Step 2 is just a discovery process to find all the NAP variations out there. Don’t start tracking all the citations just yet.
  • 31. The correct NAP NAP #1 Stratford at Maple Leaf 9001 Lake City Way Ne, Seattle, WA 98115 (206) 729-1200
  • 32. Listings with different phone numbers Query: “portion_of_business_name” -”phone_number” -”toll_free_number”
  • 33. Use Linkclump (Chrome) Or Multi Links (FireFox) > Right-click and drag to select a group of links > Release > They’ll all open in new tabs (Hat tip: Ross Hudgens)
  • 34. Listings with different phone numbers NAP #2 Stratford at Maple Leaf 9001 Lake City Way Ne, Seattle, WA 98115 (866) 344-4946
  • 35. Listings with different phone numbers NAP #3 Stratford at Maple Leaf 18605 17th Ave NW, Shoreline, WA 98177 (206) 542-4556
  • 36. Listings with different phone numbers As you discover different numbers, exclude each of them from the query to refine your results “portion_of_business_name” -”phone_number” -”toll_free_number” -”found_number1” -”found_number2”
  • 37. Listings with same phone & different address Query: “portion_of_business_name” “phone_number” -”portion_of_address”
  • 38. Listings with same phone & different address NAP #4 Stratford at Maple Leaf 5604 17th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105 (206) 729-1200
  • 39. Like you did with phone numbers, as you discover different addresses, exclude each of them from the query to refine your results “portion_of_business_name” “phone_number” -”portion_of_address” -”portion_of_address2” Listings with same phone & different address
  • 40. Listings with same phone & different business name Query: “phone_number” -“portion_of_business_name”
  • 41. NAP #5 Sound Health Management 9001 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115 (206) 729-1200 Listings with same phone & different business name
  • 42. Listings with same phone & different business name Again, as you discover different business name variations, exclude each of them from the query to refine your results “phone_number” -“portion_of_business_name” -“portion_of_business_name2”
  • 43. NAP #6 Salon Maple Leaf 9001 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115 (206) 729-1200 Listings with same phone & different business name
  • 44. Record each NAP variation in a spreadsheet
  • 45. STEP 3 Determine which NAP variations need to be fixed
  • 46. Don’t worry about these kinds of variations Street vs St Northeast vs NE Suite vs Ste Floor vs Flr. 98115-8222 vs 98115 Stratford vs STRATFORD (206) 729-1200 vs 206-729-1200
  • 47. Google normalizes the address variations it finds around the web Check your normalized address with this tool. It uses the Google Maps API: http://aus-emaps.com/bulk_geocoder.php
  • 48. These are variations you should worry about Different business name > Same address/phone Different phone > Same name/address Different address > Same name/phone
  • 49. Go through your NAP variations and note which ones need to be fixed I don’t need to worry about this one
  • 50. STEP 4 Clean up incorrect data at the most important data sources
  • 51. Don’t start with the citation sites. They could be getting data from major data providers. Common Situation You click here and update the listing
  • 52. Don’t start with the citation sites. They could be getting data from major data providers. Common Situation But the site gets a feed from Localeze
  • 53. Don’t start with the citation sites. They could be getting data from major data providers. Common Situation Two months later the listing shows up on the site again
  • 54. Public Company Filings Telco & Utility Information NCOA POI Compilation Merchant Submissions Government Sources U.S. Business Database Web Research & RSS Feeds Yellow Pages Content Partner Feedback Address Standardization & Hygiene Phone Verification Standardization of Elements & Duplicate Removal Quality Assurance Don’t even start with the data aggregators, as they receive data feeds as well.
  • 55. So, here’s your order of operations 1) Government Sources 2) Phone Company 3) Utilities 4) Infogroup 5) Neustar Localeze 6) Acxiom 7) Other Primary Data Providers 8) Dun & Bradstreet 9) Factual 10) The rest of the web (including Yahoo) 11) Google & Bing
  • 56. Government Sources Many (most?) states have a searchable business registry on the Secretary of State site. Use your list of NAPs and search for all variations of the business info. Contact them to fix any incorrect info.
  • 57. Phone Company Double check your NAP information on file at the telco that the business deals with. Online billing is a good place to start.
  • 58. Utilities Double check your NAP information on file at the utilities that the business deals with. Online billing is a good place to start.
  • 59. Infogroup Go to http://www.expressupdate.com and search for all variations of business info on your NAP list.
  • 60. Infogroup To edit a listing you’ll need to log in (or create an account) and claim the listing. They will phone verify, so coordinate a time to claim with the business.
  • 61. Important: add as much info as possible to all the correct listings you find. Use our citation building intake form.
  • 62. Neustar Localeze Go to http://www.neustarlocaleze.biz and search for all variations of business info on your NAP list. Claim and enhance accurate listings; remove others.
  • 63. Acxiom Go to https://mybusinesslistingmanager.myacxiom.com/ and search for all variations of business info on your NAP list. Claim and enhance accurate listings; remove others.
  • 64. Other Primary Data Sources: CityGrid, Superpages, Yellowpages, Yelp Go to the URLs below and search for all variations of the business info on your NAP list. Claim and enhance accurate listings; remove others. They will all phone verify, so coordinate the claims with the business. http://www.citygrid.com/ http://www.supermedia.com/spportal/quickbpflow.do http://www.yellowpages.com https://biz.yelp.com/signup
  • 65. Dun & Bradstreet Another important and commonly scraped source. Search for listings at http://www.dandb.com/businessdirectory then claim, update, and enhance.
  • 66. Factual Factual’s location data is used by Apple Maps and a ton of mobile apps (which sometimes publish their listings to the web). It’s a great local data product that’s growing in importance.
  • 67. Factual Search for listings at: http://www.factual.com/data/t/places If you find any inconsistencies, contact them here to fix: http://www.factual.com/contact?subject=data
  • 68.
  • 70. Great for: New businesses that want to build out key citations quickly. Standardizing primary information on some of the key citation sites. Making changes across dozens of citation sites near- instantly. Adding enhanced data to some of your existing citations. Problems: You only enter your existing info to create an account, so they miss many incorrect citations. They sometimes create new listings on the sites leaving existing listings as duplicates. Only 30ish sites (rest are apps) $499 yearly fee When you cancel, the majority of your listings go back to the way they were. [1] [1] http://www.ngsmarketing.com/what-happens-when-canceling-yext/
  • 71. STEP 5 Find and record all the citations across the rest of the web
  • 73. Search Google for all accurate and inaccurate NAP variations, but exclude listings that are not a problem. I don’t need to worry about this one
  • 74. Search for all possible query combinations
  • 75. Go through every result, determine if it needs to be dealt with, and record the listings in your audit spreadsheet. Hmm…
  • 76.
  • 77.
  • 78. Put all your queries into a custom report on the Link Prospector
  • 79. Set the depth to 1000
  • 80. Load Whitespark’s list of 363 reverse phone lookup sites into the exclusions
  • 81. Add “site:/intitle” searches for Phil Rozek’s Definitive List of Local Search Citations to find duplicates Press this button
  • 82. Then go and relax for a while
  • 83. BEHOLD! Your list de-duped, domain-grouped, PR & DA sortable, with titles and descriptions.
  • 84. Someone (probably not you) will still need to go through them all and record listings that need attention into a spreadsheet Use our template!
  • 85. STEP 6 Fix those citations!
  • 86. Look for update information on each listing that needs to be updated. You're looking for things like: • Update listing/business • Correct listing/business • Modify listing/business • Claim listing/business • Report listing/business • etc
  • 87. Google can help "update * listing" yellowbook "update listing on yellowbook" "update * business" yellowbook "update business on yellowbook" "claim * listing" yellowbook "claim listing on yellowbook" "claim * business" yellowbook "claim business on yellowbook" "edit * listing" yellowbook "edit listing on yellowbook" "edit * business" yellowbook "edit business on yellowbook"
  • 88. If they have no claim/edit/update functionality, contact them Great outreach template here: http://www.leanmarketing.ca/the-advanced-guide-for-citation-audits/
  • 89. Be sure to contact them from an email address on the domain for a MUCH higher success rate
  • 90. STEP 7 Now, finally, check Google. Sure, Bing too.
  • 91. Search Google Maps for duplicate listings
  • 93. Any problems that you can’t fix in the Places Dashboard, fix through Map Maker
  • 94. Any problems that you can’t fix in Map Maker, get Google to call you! Make sure you’re signed into your Google account. Go here: https://support.google.com/places/contact/c2c_places Fill in the form Click the “call me” button.
  • 95. Manage your Bing listings here: https://www.bingplaces.com/
  • 96. I have some resources for you to download, but please don’t share these yet.

Editor's Notes

  1. Mention how the website association is important as well. NAPW
  2. David Mihm did a great whiteboard Friday a while back that explained how business listings are generated at Google. They gather business data from many different sources including government, major data aggregators, community edits in Map Maker, the business owner, and the rest of the web. It turns out that businesses change their name, address, phone number, and domains surprisingly often. Any business older than 10 years is likely to have some kind of old messy data out there. When a business owner has a problem with their listing at Google, they’ll often go straight to Google and make the change, but eventually the problem resurfaces because Google keeps pulling in incorrect data from all these different sources. The business owner assumes they must be the most trusted source of information about their own business, but when Google is receiving different information from a number of other trustworthy sources, they’ll trust that it must be the most correct data. This is why it’s so important to make sure you clean up your citations at the major data sources and around the rest of the web. David did a great whiteboard FridayGoogle is collecting business data from all these sourcesBusinesses change their name, address, and phone number surprisingly oftenBusiness owner tries to fix, but it resurfacesThis is why it’s so important to clean up data at major sources and the rest of the web
  3. We see the same kind of thing when we look at how Infogroup, one of the most important aggregators of business data, compiles its database of business listings. Infogroup is gathering business data from government business registries, public company filings, point of interest databases, national change of address records, direct submissions from the businesses, telco and utilities, yellow pages, and from the web. They then combine, standardize, and sort out what is the correct and current business information. They even manually phone each business to verify that they have the correct data. This diligent verification process makes Inforgroup’s data the most trusted in the industry and Google accepts a direct feed from them.
  4. Looking at the latest version of David’s famous Local Search Ranking Factors, we see that local search experts agree that consistency of structured citations is one of the most important details to take care of. It’s #3 on the list with only proper category association and actually being located in the city being more important.
  5. You know how you can split your link equity by not 301ing the www and non-www version of your website? In this example we see that there are 28 linking root domains to the non-www version of whitespark.ca that we can consolidate by a 301 or canonical directive.
  6. Well, the same thing happens with citations. If we think of your listing at Google like your website, and you have all these mentions pointing to the listings, but there are some other mentions that seem to be pointing to a different business, then you won’t be getting credit for those listings.
  7. Unfortunately, there is no 301 or canonical directive for citations. The only way to recover that “credit” is to find these incorrect listings and update them with your current NAP info. More mentions = better local rankings.
  8. If you have enough of these incorrect citations then Google might think there is a different business and create a new listing for it. Sometimes even a minor difference in the way the business name is formatted can be enough to create a duplicate if Google is getting that NAP variation from enough trusted sources.
  9. These duplicates can seriously dampen your ability to rank in the local results. Local experts list this as the 5th most harmful negative ranking factor in the local search ranking factors.
  10. A common mistake many business owners make is to just go out and create new listings on all the citation sites. This will leave your old conflicting citation data lying around the local search ecosystem for Google and other data aggregators to pick up.
  11. Instead, you should find the incorrect listings and update them with your current and correct business info.
  12. We’ve done a few citation clean up jobs at Whitespark, but we’ve always done it in combination with a ton of other local search optimization work, so while we’re confident the citation clean up work had a positive impact, it’s difficult to attribute the ranking increases to only the clean up. This post by John Denny is one of the few I have found on the benefits of doing the citation audit and clean up work. John Denny worked through the process for one of his clients that had moved multiple times and changed their phone number multiple times. After cleaning everything up, his client went from nowhere to in the local search results to top positions for many of their keywords.
  13. Mary Bowling presented a great case study at SMX West 2012. She gave me this quote on the benefits.
  14. Adam Steele has done a lot of citation audit and clean up work, and he had this to say about one recent job they completed.
  15. Hopefully you now understand the problem better and see the benefits of doing the cleanup work, so let’s show you how to do it!
  16. Before you begin, collect as much info as you can about their current and past business information.
  17. The best place to start is to ask the business owner directly. They’ll know about their past history of different business names, moves, and phone number changes. So ask them about any old business names they may have used in the past, any corporate business names with things like LLC, Inc, LLP, etc.
  18. Ask them if they’ve ever moved locations or had satellite locations at different addresses.
  19. Ask them about any old phone numbers they may have used. Any current or old toll-free numbers? Any mobile numbers? Call tracking numbers? Even fax numbers can show up as the primary number on many listings so ask about any old or current fax numbers they may have used.
  20. The website URL listed on your citations is an important link that Google and other data aggregators can use to associate your business listings with your business. A link to an old domain can throw this off. Ask about any previous or current domains used for the business.
  21. Many business have other associated business that could mess with their NAP info if they share addresses or phone numbers. Ask them about official corporate companies, holding companies, sister companies, partnerships, etc.
  22. Many businesses will have already claimed their profiles on some of the major citation sources like Yelp, Localeze, Foursquare, Yellowpages.com, etc. Ask them if they have any login data. Also ask them if they have a Yext account. I’ll talk about Yext later.
  23. We developed a super handy questionnaire you can ask the business to complete. I’ll give you a link to download this at the end of the talk. Send it to them to complete before you start on any citation audit or clean up work.
  24. Ok, so you got your questionnaire back from the business and you think you’re ready to start hunting down and cleaning up bad citations. Not so fast. I’ve rarely seen a business provide a complete history of business information. They either don’t know about previous versions of their NAP or they forgot, or they didn’t realize there was a call tracking number setup on their yellowpages listing, or some other thing. You can take what they provide as a great head start and now search out all the NAP variations in use in the local search ecosystem.
  25. As you start looking for NAP variations you’re going to find a lot of listings and you may be inclined to start recording them all in a spreadsheet as you come across them. Don’t do that just yet as I’ll be showing you a process for this later on. In step 2 we just want to find and record any variations of the NAP we find.
  26. So here’s the first NAP variation. Their current and correct business info.
  27. Now run a query thatexcludes their current phone number and toll-free number. Exclude any active numbers they use to see what other numbers you can find that are being used on listings.
  28. RossHudgens showed us a great plugin at MozCon that will allow you to quickly open links from the search result in new tabs. Install LinkClump on Chrome or Multi Links on Firefox, then you can just right click and drag to select the links and when you release they’ll open in new tabs. This will help you review listings a bit quicker.
  29. Here’s a listing on an assisted living lead gen site that is associating their own phone number with every listing so they can track the leads they send the business. This particular business has a ton of these.
  30. And here’s a listing I found with a different phone number and address. It turns out that this is the corporate office for the business.
  31. As you discover different numbers, exclude each of them from the query to refine your results. Continue running searches like this and you’ll drill down to more and more variations.
  32. Now we can look for listings that are using the correct phone number, but have a different address (or no address).
  33. Oh look here. I just discovered an old address that this business used to operate at.
  34. Like you did with phone numbers, continue running new searches that also exclude the additional addresses you find to refine your results.
  35. Next, we want to find listings that are using the primary phone number but have a different business name.
  36. Woah. What the heck is Sound Health Management? It’s at the same address and phone number as the main business. I asked the business about it turns out it’s some company that was never really in operation, but I guess it was registered as a business at one point in the past and that info made its way onto the internet.
  37. Again, exclude what you find to keep drilling down.
  38. And here’s one more I found. This is the hair salon that operates within the main business. It’s not too unusual for businesses to share an address, but they really should have a unique phone number to help differentiate the two businesses.These queries aren’t an exhaustive list of the discovery search queries. Depending on what you get back from your client questionnaire, you’ll likely need to run some additional queries to find all the NAP variations, but this should give you a good idea of the process you want to follow.
  39. Record all the variations you find in a spreadsheet. I’ll share a link to our template at the end of the talk.
  40. Ok, so now that you have a complete list of all the NAP variations out there, look through the and determine which ones are problems, and which ones aren’t.
  41. Don’t worry about minor address and phone number variations. Many sites format this info differently and Google will understand your address just fine. With regards to the business name, most variations are definitely a problem, but something like “The” at the beginning of it are not cause for concern. Differences such as LLP, INC, and LLC at the end of the name *CAN* cause problems though.
  42. Google actually normalizes all the addresses they find on the web. This tool uses the Google Maps API which is presumably what Google uses for its address normalization, so if you run an address variation through this tool and it “resolves” to the correct address, you can be confident that Google understands that address and will associate it with your listing.
  43. Ok, now that you know what matters and what doesn’t, go through your NAP list and mark the problems. This businesses official corporation has a different name, address, and phone number. I don’t want to go around the web removing those listings. They won’t conflict with the main NAP.
  44. Before you begin digging through the web cleaning up citations all willy-nilly, start with those super important listings that get distributed all over the web.
  45. You don’t want to start with the individual citation sites. Here’s a common scenario of what happens when you do that. You edit this listing…
  46. But they get a feed of business listing data from Localeze once a month…
  47. And in a couple months your incorrect listing pops back up on the site. So, you’ll of course want to clean up Localeze before you clean up this site, but…
  48. …even the data aggregators like localeze are getting data from other sources. You must start at the true sources and work your way up the ecosystem.
  49. Ok, now that you’ve sorted out those scary “official” sources, next on your list is Infogroup because they feed directly into Google. Go to expressupdate.com and use your NAP list to search for all possible variations of the old and current business info. Claim and update accurate listings, claim and remove old inaccurate ones.
  50. They’ll phone verify any claims you make, so before you work through this process make sure you have cordinated a time with the business to do this work. I have simply scheduled a time with the business to work through phone verify listings. I queue them all up, press the call me buttons, and then they send me a text with the pin. Works pretty good!
  51. This is super important. Use this opportunity to enhance all your existing listings as much as possible. A bunch of them are going to have just the listings you find are just going to have the basics of name, address, and phone number. Improve your relevancy by adding categories, detailed descriptions, and keywords to the listings. Add hours and payments types too. If they give you a field for it, add it! Collect all the info you need from the business ahead of time. You can use the intake form we use on our citation building service.
  52. Localeze has the largest distribution of all the data aggregators. Probably because licensing their data is 10 times cheaper than Infogroup. So, it’s super important to make sure they only have correct listings here. Search for all variations of your NAP info, claim and enhance the correct listings, and remove any incorrect listings.
  53. #3 on my list of super important data aggregators, make sure your data is correct at Acxiom as well. Go to this simple and easy to type domain mybusinesslistingmanager.myacxiom.com, search for any listings, claim and enhance the correct ones, then delete the bad ones.
  54. Go to each of these URLs, search for your listings, claim and enhance, remove bad listings. You know the drill by now. They all phone verify.
  55. This is another one of those semi-official sources. They get fed to a lot of company registration type sites and they tend to have plenty of out of date listings. Clean em up!
  56. A lot of these super important sources are queried in the excellent GetListed tool. It’s a great place to start. Just enter all the Nap variations and see what they come up with. Also, it’s free! Here’s a run through of all the great information you can pull from it.Listing scoreImportant site you’re not listed onListings that haven’t been claimed as well as how comprehensive those listings areThey’ll even find some duplicates!They sometimes report this “we were unable to contact this site” thing, but if you try again in a few minutes, you can sometimes see the result.Anyway, it’s a great tool that can tell you a lot about where you stand on some of the most important sites on the web. Use it.
  57. While I think that Yext can be great for some purposes, I do NOT think it’s a good citation clean up tool. It’s great for… but there are some problems when you consider it for citation clean up. Namely…
  58. Phew! If you cleaned up all of those important sources, you’re about 60% of the way there with this task. Unfortunately, the remaining 40% is going to be more work. I’ll try to make it hurt as little as possible…
  59. Many of you are familiar with the horrifically complicated plate of spaghetti right here. The funny thing is, there are still a ton of other sites out there that don’t even make it onto this chart. The local search ecosystem is BIG and Google’s scraping the bejesus out of all of it.
  60. What you want to do is search Google for all different variations of your NAP. That second one in green is for their corporate address, and it’s not in conflict with the main business since it has a different name, address, and phone, so I’m just going to exclude it. Note the comments field where I have noted the problems with each particular NAP.
  61. Now you’re going to search for all possible variations you can think of. Be exhaustive with this.
  62. Look at every result, determine if it’s a listing or something you don’t need to worry about, and record all of listings you find in a spreadsheet. Hmmm… Google indexes a LOT of pages though. This is going to take FOREVER. I know what you may be thinking here…
  63. Fortunately, there is a better way.
  64. You can drop all those queries into a single custom report on the Link Prospector!
  65. Set the depth to 1000 so it paginates through Google’s results like nobody’s business…
  66. Add out list of crap reverse phone lookup sites to the exclusions (I’ll give you a link to these later)
  67. And also, add these “duplicate finder” queries I came up with. The idea with these queries is that most citation sources will put the business name in the title of the actual listings. So, if you do a site: search on the domain and add intitle:”business_name” you’re going to get results that are just the listings and not all the index pages and sub pages of the site that also have the NAP info on them. Now, we just need a really good list of common citation sites, and thanks to Phil Rozek, we have one. He has vetted this list pretty well to include only sites that are free and that provide proper name, address, phone fields. No “link directories”! I have a template you can use with the full list of 183 sites. Just search and replace business_name with your business name, then paste it in.Ok, once you have that all set up, press the submit button.
  68. If the queue is empty you’ll get your report in about 5 to 10 minutes. If it’s busy, it could take up to an hour. Whatever, you’re saving yourself dozens or maybe hundreds of hours.
  69. When it’s done, BEHOLD the glory of your citation audit research. You now have a beautiful list of possible citations that has duplicates removed, is grouped by domain, can be sorted by PR and Moz domain authority, and that has the titles and descriptions. You can export this to CSV, or work directly from the web app and use LinkClump to open URLs.
  70. Unfortunately, someone (likely an intern or outsourcer) will still need to look through each result in the link prospector list and sort the real listings from the junk. Record all the listings you find in a spreadsheet, and I’ve got a template for you for that as well.
  71. Finally, once you’ve created your list of correct and incorrect citations, you can start the clean up process. The “Audit” portion is done.
  72. You’re going to go to each site and look for things like…
  73. Often, some quick Google queries can help you find the update and delete information.
  74. Many sites aren’t going to have a simple web based form for making changes though, and in these cases you’ll want to contact the site to request updates or removal. Adam Steele included a great outreach template in his post on citation audits. We use a variation of this.
  75. It’s really important that you make contact from an email address on the main domain of the business. If you don’t, they will have no way of knowing if you’re legit or if you’re a competitor trying to sabotage their listings. Your requests will either get rejected, or more likely, ignored.
  76. Now, finally, after you have cleaned up all the data sources that Google is pulling from, go to Google and make your changes. Don’t be that poor business owner from David’s whiteboard Friday that keeps spinning his wheels making changes that don’t stick. You’ve done your work and now all the info Google’s getting will agree.
  77. Go to Google maps and search for your NAP variations.
  78. Go search at Map Maker too.
  79. If you find any problems, claim the listings into to your Google Places For Business dashboard and try to change them. If the changes don’t stick, try making the changes through Map Maker. Your edits will go to a moderator who will approve the change. I haven’t had a problem yet getting legitimate changes approved. Once approved, they should be reflected in your listings on Maps within a day or two.
  80. Did you know you can get Google Places support on the phone now? You enter your info in this form, click submit, and they call you. You’ll be talking to real human with power to fix your problems in minutes. Holy shit. It’s pretty much amazing. When I get them on the phone I like to open with “how do I rank #1 on Google” just for funsies.
  81. Bing’s Places for Business is pretty darn good. Find your listings, claim them, update the good ones, and remove the bad ones. Getting listed here is a pretty easy win since most of the local competition is probably ignoring Bing.
  82. In closing, I’d like to leave you with some assets to make your citation audit and clean up work easier. Visit this link and get: … Please don’t share these resources with anyone yet as I’ll be publishing them next week and would be sad if they got leaked in advance. This is some exclusive early access just for you fine folks.
  83. Oh, and we’ve been compiling information on how to add, update, and delete listings on the full list of 183 citation sources listed on Phil Rozek’s definitive list. You can have that too! Again, pretty please, no sharing until I publish all this, and after that, yeah, the more sharing the better!