Citations are important for your local SEO. They still rank among the top 4 local search ranking factors survey for 2015. So how do you go about making sure that your business NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) is good across the local search ecosystem?

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In short, search engines like Google want to show the most relevant information to users. If your business has had a few different phone numbers, addresses, or websites, do you think that your information looks trustworthy? No.
By getting all of your NAP data correct on the most important local listing directories, you are providing more trustworthy data, and more likely to help you rank for your desired keywords.
Time to sit down and think long and hard about your business information, and answer these questions:
**Before you begin, create a spreadsheet. Have 1 column be the correct business data, and use the other columns to include incorrect business names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.**
  • When you registered your business, was the same information (business name, address, website, phone number) the same as it is today? If you’re having a hard time remembering, check your local Secretary of State website. Most have a search feature that can show you the information they currently have about your business. If the information is incorrect, document this in your spreadsheet
  • Have you ever used any previous addresses, phone numbers, websites, or business names? Document them all in the spreadsheet
  • Have you ever used any call tracking numbers? If so, try to locate them and add them to your list
  • Have you ever hired a local SEO before? If yes, try to get access to listings they may have claimed on your behalf
Now that you have documented all of the incorrect information about your business, it’s time to start at the main sources. Google uses 5 main data aggregators for information, so starting at these is paramount. These aggregators also feed local listing information to other local directories. You can alleviate a lot of bad local data by conquering these first.
In comes Moz Local. Simply enter in your business name and zip code and let the tool go to work. It will give you a listing score and show you where information is complete,  inconsistent, duplicates, or incomplete. How does your data look on these aggregators? The service is $84/year, and well worth it. We use it for all of our local SEO clients.

We can’t just use this one tool and be done with it. If only it were that easy!

Time for some good ol’ manual advanced search queries to find bad data.
Up until about 3 weeks ago, I used my cell phone number as the main number for RicketyRoo. I now need to remove it, and replace it with the new one. How can I find all instances of my cell phone on local listing directories? In come advanced search queries.
By using the format of “business name” “phone number” when searching, Google will show us information that contains both inside of a page. As you can see by the image below, I have 125 to correct!
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Now it’s your turn, use the format above for every variation of your business. As an example, lets say that Acme Widgets has some outdated data floating on the interwebs. They have moved from 123 Main St Bend OR over to 656 Empire Ave Bend OR, and had a phone number change from (555) 123-4567 to (555) 890-1234 before the move. Here are all the variations we would search to find bad data:
“Acme Widgets” “123 Main St” “(555) 123-4567″
“Acme Widgets” “123 Main St” “(555) 890-1234″
“Acme Widgets” “656 Empire Ave” “(555) 123-4567”
“656 Empire Ave” “Bend” – Why no business name? We also want to document all listings from the previous business that occupied that address. We then find that Johns Computer Repair was the previous occupant. We then need to document those listings, and request that the listing be removed.
Open each listing link in a new tab, and copy the URL. We want to plug this URL into our spreadsheet on a new sheet, and add a note in the next column saying what is wrong with the listing. Instead of doing this manually, you can copy all open tabs in one fell swoop. If you’re using the Chrome browser, get this extension: Copy all URLs
It will enable you to copy all of the open tab URLs into your clipboard, then you can just paste them all into the spreadsheet at once.
Repeat this process until you believe you have found all of the incorrect data. You will potentially find duplicate listings, and need to remove them too.
You might be looking at a pretty big list, but it can be conquered if you dedicated 20 minutes a day to cleaning them up.
Correcting these can be as simple as claiming the listing and updating the information. Other times you will need to email the website directly through a contact form. In the latter case, send the email from a branded email address (mike@acmewidgets.com). This gives more credibility when the person receiving the email is deciding if what you are requesting is valid. In the email be as detailed as possible, include a link to the listing(s) that need to be updated/deleted.
It can take quite a bit of time for these updates to publish, and can be frustrating. You may have to go back multiple times to try and get the information corrected.
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If everything is looking great, awesome! But you can’t set it and forget it. At least quarterly, manually go through each of these sites and make sure that your citation info is correct. Look for duplicate listings, and be sure that the information on your listing is correct.

Doing a citation audit does take some time, but the benefits can really help your business grow.