Transcript of the Video
Today we’ll explain how to perform a citation audit for your local SEO strategy. A citation is any reference to a company online. These references often display the business name, address, and phone number, known collectively as NAP. Auditing citations ensures the NAP information for a business is present, accurate and not duplicated across the internet.
Why are citations important? Here are two reasons:
- Citations serve as a unique online footprint that helps current and potential customers find information about a business.
- Due to recent updates by major search engines, such as Google’s Pigeon update, the proximity of a business’ physical address to the user is a now a significant local search ranking factor. Search engines pull information from citations to determine where a business is located in order to deliver accurate results.
Citations can be divided into two categories: structured and unstructured.
- A structured citation is a standardized business listing most often found on directories and review sites, such as Yelp and Yellowpages.com. These almost always show complete NAP information, thus must be accurate.
- An unstructured citation is any other mention of a business that isn’t a standardized directory, such as a blog or newspaper article. Although complete NAP may or may not be included, unstructured citations represent a significant opportunity to boost local branding.
To begin a citation audit, follow these steps:
- Record all current and previous NAP information. Any name variations, old addresses and phone numbers can be used to find outdated directory listings that need updating.
- Compile a list of up to 50 authoritative, structured citations to review. The Vertical Measures’ blog post on Local SEO for Small Business Owners provides a list to get started with. Additionally, try searching for the business name or primary keywords, and make note of which directories rank well.
- Create, or locate and claim existing listings for your business. Some directories may require verification by phone or postcard to prove ownership of the business before claiming the listing.
- Update outdated information and remove any duplicate listings. We recommend updating in batches, instead of all at once.
A citation audit is not a one-time task. We recommend reviewing citations every two to three months to ensure information remains current, as directories often pull data from other outside sources.