Posted on July 9, 2014 by Webfor By Michael Rough and Chelsea Terris Good SEOs find and pursue opportunities that allow them to boost the online credibility of their clients in the eyes of users and search engines. A great way to accomplish this is to establish and keep clean the business NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) through use of citations. Citations are listings in various directories that include your business’s local, categorical, or social focus. These informational hubs provide Google with essential information about the where, what and how of your business. If your business information is at all lacking in one or many of these listings, you’re missing out on an excellent opportunity to show Google you’re a trustworthy and exceptional business. However, similar to links, not all citation directories are equal in their ability to represent your site. In some cases, inconsistencies in your business data or duplicate listings can even hurt your ability to rank. For this reason, consistent management of your listings is of vital importance. Listings management is like weeding a garden; just when you uproot one patch of dandelions, another crop pops up, ready to strangle your healthy plants. So how do you deal? Why Listings Matter First things first. It’s essential to understand why listings play such a paramount role in your ranking and ability to connect with clients, current and potential. First, Google uses information from directory sources and online aggregators in its local rankings algorithm, so any inconsistencies will impact your rank for local search terms. Period. Second, many directory sites now allow users to add social links to their business listings. Local search engines love em’ some social content, but if listings are duplicated, this activity will be too spread out to deliver a rankings boost. Finally, duplicate listings, especially those with differing information, confuse users. If users are confused, they are less likely to find and/or patron your business. Furthermore, Google is the champion of user experience, so if your listings are bamboozling your target market, you’re much less likely to get favorable treatment by local search algorithms. Your best strategy? Clean up those listings! Listings Management If the devil’s in the details, keeping your listings current and accurate requires attention to every minute aspect. Check your listings with our tool to see if you may have listings inaccuracies or duplicates. Edit Your zip code is listed wrong or business activities are mistagged. Now what? Correcting issues with a citation can be as simple or difficult as the given platform allows. If you have kept your account login and password (thank you, LastPass!), simply sign in and make your edits, assuming that the directory you are using allows for edits (most do). Some may ask you to verify changes via a phone call or postcard. Opt for phone call if you can, as postcards can take 2-3 weeks or more to arrive with a password for you to enter, and who’s got time for that? If, however, it’s been years since you create the listing and you’ve misplaced your login and password, or if you were not the one who created it, go the old fashioned route and reach out. Most citation platforms, like Knowem, and Yellowpages, have contact forms that you can fill out to receive a timely response. In your outreach, be sure to include any changes to the listing that you wish to make, so the help team can implement your requests pronto. Delete In the case of duplicate listings, you may want to delete the incorrect or less optimal listing from the directory entirely. Doing so may be as simple as logging in and clicking a button, or as complex as contacting the account management department and requesting that the profile be taken down. If filling out a contact form for change of business information, be sure to include the link to the page you want corrected, not merely the business name. Also, in the case of duplicates, be sure to also include the link to the listing you want to keep, so he or she can see that there is, in fact, repetitive content. Suppress Finally, you can suppress your duplicate listings so Google no longer sees them. Data that you have updated or deleted may still be found by web aggregators and in some cases data base updates or rollbacks can cause duplicate or inaccurate listings to pop up in search, foiling your best corrective efforts. When a duplicate gets suppressed, publishers can choose to 301 redirect the targeted listing to the canonical listing on their site. This may merge data, including reviews, from the duplicate, which can boost your SEO. The additional benefit of suppression over editing and deletion is that it is a permanent process as long as you continue to utilize the suppression service. While the process of cleaning up your listings can be challenging and time consuming, the value of having your business information correct and consistent across the board will put you ahead of your competition when it comes to ranking in the local listings. Have listings management tips or an experience you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments below!