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What Is a Citation Audit And Why Do You Need One? Basic Steps To Get Started

What is a Citation Audit

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A citation audit is a thorough checkup of all the places online where your business information appears to ensure it’s correct and consistent.

Because I’m managing an online presence for a local business, I know that citation audits are essential for many different factors. Besides, Google rewards consistent data when it comes to local SEO. Trust me, you don’t want to displease this search engine. 

Some business owners share their frustration over inconsistent information about their businesses online. They can be everywhere and nowhere at the same time since different platforms may list varying addresses and phone numbers for their places.

Reviewing your citations is crucial, but it’s easy to forget the importance of maintaining them. This goes double for businesses with a physical location. Basically, citation audits help you clean up the way you appear online. They do this by ensuring the web’s many mentions of your business/brand/creative work are fully correct.

This is your guide to give you the know-how to launch a successful citation audit while neatly avoiding all the classic mistakes that can befall even the most seasoned pros.

Understanding Citation Audits And Its Purpose

A citation audit is essentially a fact-check for your online presence. Think of it as making sure every mention of you or your business across the web is accurate and consistent.

Why even go through the hassle of a citation review? Well, accuracy matters. When talking about where your business shows up on Google Maps, wrong information leads to confusion. And in the world of SEO, consistency boosts your visibility.

This isn’t just theory; Powered By Search has seen firsthand how cleaning up listings and building citations improved traffic for several clients. When info matches across platforms, it’s easier for customers—and search engines—to trust you.

Dev Basu CEO and Founder of Powered by Search

Every time we notice that another competitor has started building more citations, then the Loganix team kind of comes in and says, ok, well, we can match that, we can exceed it.

Dev Basu, CEO/Founder of Powered by Search

Although his comment relates to building citations, auditing is the very first aspect that has to be dealt with.

If you need more convincing, consider this: according to BrightLocal’s research on local consumer behavior, 98% of consumers used the internet to find a local business last year. With numbers like that, can you afford not to pay attention?

Citations play a huge role in local SEO because they tell search engines that your business exists and give them the scoop on where it’s located and what it does. It allows your customers to go directly to your front door.

Why Citation Audits Matter For Local SEO

citation audit for local SEO

Citations play a vital role in shaping your local SEO strategy. They’re like the digital version of word-of-mouth for your business, existing across various online platforms.

So, what’s the big deal with them anyway? Citations essentially act as a spotlight and trust badge for your company in the vast online world.

Here are some reasons you should do a citation audit if you have a local business.

1. Boosts Local Search Rankings

First off, search engines use citations as one way to verify the existence and reliability of your business.

Every time your business gets mentioned, it’s like receiving an endorsement that affirms its authenticity and significance in the local scene. In other words, it improves rankings by reinforcing geographical accuracy and consistency.

To put it simply, when search engines see consistent information about your business across multiple sites—the name, address, and phone number (NAP) and website links—it strengthens their “trust” in listing you higher up on local search results pages (SERPs).

2. Influences Consumer Trust

Beyond just rankings though, there’s consumer trust at stake.

Think about it: When you find conflicting details about a store online—say different addresses or phone numbers—it throws you off track, right?

This confusion may lead customers to avoid getting involved with your services. At least, that’s how I see it when I search for information online about an unknown local business in my area.

In the same way that most consumers lose trust in local businesses if they see many negative reviews, they also lose trust if they see incorrect or inconsistent contact details online. Accurate citations help build confidence among prospective customers because they rely heavily on this info for making decisions.

3. Nurtures Online Presence Across Platforms

Last but not least is the expansive reach these citations have. By ensuring your NAP is accurate everywhere—from Google My Business to Yelp—you’re essentially casting a wider net for capturing attention within various customer segments who may prefer one platform over another.

This isn’t just about being found easily; it’s also an opportunity to present unified branding messages across all touchpoints where potential clients might interact with or discover more about what makes your service special.

Best Practices for Maintaining Accurate Citations

man holding a card that reads citation audit

Maintaining accurate citations is like keeping your storefront tidy; it invites more customers in.

Having consistent NAP information across your Google Business Profile listing and other citations is key to building a reliable presence that Google can trust and, therefore, rank higher in search results.

1. The Necessity of Regular Audits

First things first, regular citation audits are a must. Consider them akin to periodic health checkups for the digital footprint of your business.

Inconsistent NAPs can significantly degrade a company’s local search rankings. Google and other search engines pull data from various online listings to generate their index. If the listed information isn’t consistent across multiple sources, it could lead to lower search result rankings.

To avoid learning the hard way, a local business should have a well-thought-out citation audit to help them catch inaccuracies before impacting their reputation.

2. Streamlining Information Across Platforms

An essential step is streamlining information across all platforms. This means making sure that from Google My Business to Yelp to Bing, every detail matches perfectly—name, address, phone number, and website URL should be uniform everywhere.

I’ve seen businesses suffer because their NAP details were different on several sites; this confuses both potential clients and search engines alike.

3. Leveraging Automation Tools

To start, use tools like the BrightLocal Citation Tracker to scan various directories for any discrepancies in your listings. It allows you to pinpoint where the mismatches are and access methods to correct them swiftly.

BrightLocal Citation Tracker for YogaHome

You can also use the Moz Local Listing Score for a faster scan.

Moz Local Listing Score citation audit for YogaHome

Incorporating automation tools can save time while enhancing accuracy when managing multiple listings.

4. Outsourcing Your Citation Audit

Not every business owner is tech-savvy. And let’s be honest, most owners don’t have the time to constantly check their citations. It can be overwhelming and even boring, at the least.

That’s why outsourcing this task to SEO agencies can help tremendously. Take, for example, Loganix. Their advanced local citation audit service provides a clear look at local competitors and specifically identifies their actions which you aren’t currently taking.

Matt Prados Founder of GotchaLocal

Loganix $7 audits are simply the best thing that has ever happened to Maps SEO… easily worth 10x what they charge.

Matt Prados, Founder of GotchaLocal

Outsourcing your tedious citation audits to solid SEO companies frees up time for you to focus on other important parts of your business without pulling your hair out.

Basic Steps To Perform a Citation Audit

Performing a good citation audit is not the scope of this article. You can read this great guide on how to do it yourself if you’re inclined to spend some time on it. This local citation finder features manual and automatic steps, but it can become overwhelming (that’s why hiring an experienced SEO company is much better, trust me!).

However, I’ll walk you through some basic steps on how to perform one.

Step 1: Gather Your Listings

The first step is to compile all places where your business appears online. But the search is not only meant to include the usual sources such as directories, social media profiles, and review sites.

It also helps with an important, yet often neglected, area called data aggregators crucial to this ecosystem. They collect and then distribute business information to various platforms so that your business appears all across the internet.

Utilizing platforms such as BrightLocal Citation Tracker can expedite the task of identifying listings linked to your identity.

BrightLocal Citation Tracker

After collecting these references, prepare yourself for a bit of sleuthing.

Step 2: Check for Consistency

Inconsistencies in how your information appears across different platforms can confuse search engines and potential clients alike.

Make sure that every detail matches exactly from one listing to another—this means checking addresses down to the abbreviation used for “Street” or “Avenue”.

A citation cleanup involves scrutinizing all those details in order to correct NAP details on your business listings.

BrightLocal Citation List example for YogaHome with inconsistencies

Using BrightLocal in the above example of a citation audit for a British company named Yogahome, we could clearly spot several inconsistencies across different directories (NAP variations). Pay special attention to the address and missing links.

If differences are found, note them meticulously. Precision here prevents future missteps.

Step 3: Correct Any Errors

Finding inaccuracies isn’t enough; they need fixing too.

If you have access to the directory, such as Google My Business or Bing, you can change the details easily. For others, it’s not so simple. You must contact each site individually and be prepared for some back-and-forth before changes take effect.

Patience is key during this phase because getting things right sets a solid foundation moving forward.

Step 4: Maintain Regular Checks

Citation audits aren’t just a one-time deal; they’re an ongoing commitment for maintaining local rankings.

Even with meticulous records, unexpected citations can appear due to sites scraping your data without you knowing.

According to Loganix, scheduling regular check-ups at least four times a year helps keep everything running smoothly, ensuring any new errors are caught early and corrections are made promptly.

Citation Audit FAQs

What exactly does a citation audit involve? 

A citation audit deeply explores and ensures every piece of your business info online—like name, address, business phone number, and contacts—is correct and uniform everywhere.

Why should my business care about citation audits? 

Citation audits do more than clean up your business details online; they help you stand out in Google search results.

By making sure your info is correct and consistent everywhere, search engines find your business credible and rank you higher, connecting you to customers just when they need you. 

Can I conduct a citation audit by myself, or should I hire a professional? 

Choosing to do a citation audit yourself or hire a pro depends on your time, tech skills, and how intricate your online details are.

DIY can work if you’re willing to learn new tools. For vast or complicated web presences, a professional SEO agency can provide expertise, including citation-building services, to make the process efficient. 

What common mistakes should I avoid in a citation audit? 

While the journey of a citation audit is packed with the promise of improved SEO, there are pitfalls to avoid: 

  • Overlooking small discrepancies:  Even minor variations in your business name or address across different platforms can confuse search engines—and potential customers. 
  • Ignoring lesser-known directories:  While major platforms like Google My Business grab most of the spotlight, smaller or industry-specific directories also play a crucial role in your overall online presence. 
  • Not updating information regularly:  An audit isn’t just about correcting mistakes; it’s also about updating any information that’s changed, ensuring your digital footprint remains accurate over time.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know what a citation audit is, the basic steps to perform one, and the tools and services that might hand you a helping hand, it’s time to get started fixing all those little details.

Yes, not everyone has the patience to do it, so why not give Loganix’s $7 citation audits a try? With a 3-day turnaround, you’ll save yourself precious time to expand your business in more creative ways.

Vaslou is a passionate digital creator and blogger who loves to explore unique paths to generate online income. He’s also a musician, always looking for exciting paths to articulate his inventive spirit in the musical realm. When he’s not at work on his online endeavors, Vasco loves to delve into spiritual realms to become a better version of himself.

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