We as human beings have heard a lot of times that a lot of small things add up together to make a huge difference in our lives. But this doesn’t only apply to our lives but it also applies to business organizations and their online presence! Isn’t that amazing? When it comes to a business’s online presence, citations play a very important role. They can make a lot of difference when it comes to the visibility and the search engine rankings of the business.

To put it simply, every time you mention the name and the address of your business on web pages, you create a citation. A typical citation is in the NAP format, where N stands for the Name of the business, A stands for the Address of the business, and P stands for the Phone Number of the business. Also, when you create a citation, you might be asked to mention the website of your business but that is not always the case. Let’s try to understand this by a simple example. For example, you listed the name, address, and phone number of your business on a directory, say YellowPages, you created a citation.

Several businesses are well aware of how important citations can be for their business, yet somehow, they choose to ignore it. Those who do create citations are not consistent with it. It is quite possible that a business to move to a different location, change their website URL, make changes in their NAPs, close down a store or open up a new one. With all the changes taking place, it is important to update existing citations and manage the duplicate ones.

Now, the citations you create can be incorrect too. An incorrect citation is created when you mention the name, address, or phone number of the business is listed incorrectly on the local listing sites. Google always appreciates businesses that create correct citations on trusted sites. To display your NAP in a particular format on different web pages, make sure you follow the format of Google My Business Listing. But this is about listing your citation and maintaining the format. What about when your citation is incorrect? How can you fix it?

In this post, Nico Digital brings to you some help about how to clean up your citation in just a few simple steps. So, let’s dive straight into it.

How do I clean up My Citations?

Before beginning with the steps, here is a small disclaimer. It can turn out to be a long process which is not fun at all. But what you need to keep in mind is that you are trying to make your citations accurate and using shortcuts isn’t going to be helpful. Here are a couple of points you need to keep in mind:

  • When you are cleaning up your citations, make sure you start with the citations that are specific to your location and niche. 
  • Create a list of the directories on which you have updated the NAP. It will make following up with these directories easier for you. You can also use a spreadsheet for this purpose.
  • Only creating new citations won’t work, you have to update the already existing ones. 

Now, you can follow the below-mentioned steps to clean up the citation of your business.

1.The first step is to identify all the possible variations of NAP

For the first step, you can use the spreadsheet we talked about earlier. Use this spreadsheet to make a list of all the possible variations of NAP which will be useful in the coming steps too. 

Find out the information available about your business on different web pages and study them. Now, include the web pages that have correct information along with the directories. Also, include web pages that have incorrect NAP of your business. To differentiate between the two, you can use different colors to highlight them. For example, for the correct variation, you can use green color and for the incorrect ones, you can use red.

2.Check online for all the incorrect NAP

Once you are done adding all the variations to the spreadsheet and marking them accordingly in red or green, check online if any variations are available online but not in your list. To do so, follow the below-mentioned steps.

  • Check your BBB Listing

The BBB business listings display additional NAPs of a business. This way you can find other variations of your citation easily.

  • Inquire with the Secretary of State’s Filing for Business

Many secretaries of the state have this platform where you can inquire about a business. You can find out if there is another business filed under a DBA or some fictitious name in the past.

  • Check the History in Google Map Maker 

The Google Map Maker’s history can be edited. You can check the history for all the edits made and find out variations from them.

  • Use Google My Business

Google My Business integrates all the reviews about your business on different sites if your business is recognized by Google. You can go to the “Manage Reviews” and then click on “Reviews from around the world”. You can check the listings for all the reviews and find out for variations in your NAP.

3.Organize the data acquired

In the next step, you will have to go back to the spreadsheet created in Step 1. Create a new tab to organize the data acquired more clearly. You can create several columns to do so. These are the things you can mention:

  • Website: Add the website on which you found the citation.
  • Name: Write the name of the business as mentioned in the citation.
  • Address: Add the address of the business as mentioned in the citation.
  • Phone Number: Add the phone number as mentioned in the citation.
  • State and ZIP: Mention the state, city & zip as in the citation.
  • Links: Add the link that is linked to your citation, if any.
  • Listing URL: Add the Listing URL of the citation here for easy reference.
  • Issues: Mention the issue the particular citation has.
  • Duplicate: Mention the link of duplicate listings, if any.
  • Status: You can state the status of the citation here. Like if you find no issues in a citation you can show it in green color, if there is a minor issue you can show it in yellow, and if there is a major issue you can use red color.

4.Take action

The final step after creating the second tab is where you take action. Once you are done making the list you can start with the citations that are marked in RED first. You can contact directories or send them mail. But do not change the color of the STATUS until the issue is completely resolved. You will find that some directories give you the option to claim your listings but many others will ask you to send them a mail or verify in some other way.

The Conclusion

The entire process seems very time-consuming but it is worth it. Also, be patient and give the search engines some time to index your new listings. Your local business rankings will improve too gradually. Let us know in the comment if you faced any difficulty in any of the steps, we will be more than happy to help you out.

Author BIO:

Aditya Kathotia

Aditya is the Founder and CEO of Nico Digital and Digital Polo. He has attained the pinnacle of brand design expertise by delivering true value to brands and marketers. After pursuing his higher education in Business Analysis from Manchester Business School, he has helped both Nico Digital and Digital Polo unlock its true branding potential globally. You can reach out to him on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Keerthana is the Managing Director at digitalkirk.com. After many years of making it and breaking it in the freelance world, she now mentors new writers who want to take their careers to the next level.

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