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5 Important Reasons for Cleaning Up Your Local Business Listings

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Published: April 10, 2015

One of the most important ranking factors in local SEO is your business presence on relevant local online directories in the form of a citation. According to Moz, citations and external location signals are the third most important factor in local search ranking. A citation is an online mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on a recognized local authority website – not to be confused with inbound backlinks, which convey ranking authority from websites that link to you. Citations are used by the search engines to verify your business’s contact information and business type.

Why You Need to Maintain Clean and Accurate Citation Profiles
Online business citations need to be regularly checked for completeness and accuracy. Search engines and online directories all share information about your business, and a single piece of bad information can get passed along throughout the online community and wreak havoc on your efforts to drive traffic to your website.

  • Incorrect or outdated information about your business can confuse your website visitors and cost you sales. An incorrect address, out-of-service phone number, or an outdated listing of store hours can ruin your chances of making a sale, and drive frustrated visitors straight into the arms of your competitors.
  • If your business information is incorrect or inconsistent across your various directory and citation listings, you’re at risk of losing out on organic website traffic from the search engines.
  • Duplicate listings can result in citations and reviews that rightfully belong to your business being divided among all of the listings found – causing lower rankings in local search.
  • Properly claimed and accurate local citations help to identify and confirm your business standing as a member of the local community that you serve.
  • Accurate citations are especially important if your business is in a less-competitive niche where many of your competitors are marketing themselves without a website of their own. Where business websites are scarce, the search engines rely more on citations and local business directories for the information needed to generate results for local search queries.

What Causes Bad Listings?
There are a number of different issues that could cause incorrect information about your business to be circulated across the Internet, including changing your business location or phone number, using a toll-free phone number instead of a local number, use of a different phone number to track advertising response, using different trade names or variations of your business name, and creating a brand new listing instead of correcting an existing one.

How to Clean Up Your Business Citations and Directory Listings
1. Start with your Google My Business (formerly Google Places, Google+ Local) listing. This is the primary information source that Google uses to determine your ranking in the local search results.

2. Transfer your Google My Business listing information to a file, and copy-and-paste this information to every new directory listing and citation you create going forward to ensure accuracy and consistency.

3. Check each citation listing that you can find for your business. Start with Moz Local’s “Check My Listing” tool, which you can access at moz.com/local/search. This will give a snapshot of your citation profiles across the top 15 citation sources and data aggregators.

4. Record your findings for each citation in a spreadsheet. Any errors or duplicate listings that need to be fixed should be flagged for action.

5. Correct any errors or duplicates in Bing Places and Yahoo Local first, then move on to the three major data aggregators: Acxiom, Infogroup, and Localeze. When this is done, clean up individual citation sources that need fixing.

6. Be sure to follow up on the correction process. Check and re-check until the errors have been corrected – in some cases, you’ll have to make multiple correction requests to get your listing cleaned up.