Let’s face it. Local SEO is a bear of a task. It’s tedious, time consuming and requires a lot of coordination between the SEO and client. Though it’s not always fun, auditing and creating citations contributes to the digital success of a local business and is crucial to helping them rank in the Local 3 Pack (the three map results that appear at the top of a search result for a local business or service). As with anything SEO, it’s best to have a strategic process for your Local SEO efforts. I’ve found several resources, like this tutorial on finding NAP (name, address and phone number) variations, to be enormously helpful. However, nothing would prepare me for the chaos that I would encounter when embarking on a challenging citation audit. To help deal with the logistical stress, I’ve put together some tips for staying organized when doing Local SEO.
Create a spreadsheet of citations.
Whether you’re auditing citations for a client who’s had several NAP changes over the years or building them from scratch, it’s essential to organize the list of directories into a spreadsheet so that you can keep track of your progress. It’s best to choose directories that are both authoritative and kept up to date by a support team. If not, your efforts will be futile and endless. Whitespark provides three great directory lists that are sorted by country, city and professional category.
Once you’ve gathered your lists of citations and plugged them into your spreadsheet, you might also consider adding columns for notes, progress and login credentials.
Creating and maintaining a local citations spreadsheet can help you keep track of your Local SEO campaign progress.
I also like to color code my spreadsheets. When dealing with over 50 directories, color coding is an easy way to view your progress and quickly find the directories that need attention. Green shows me that there is nothing left to do with the directory. Yellow indicates waiting on a response from customer support. Red tells me I need to take action.
Get any existing directory account logins from the client.
Before you start chipping away at your list of directories, save yourself some time and get any known directory login credentials from your client. Though clients typically don’t have well-kept records of this information, even a few credentials will save you the trouble of back and forth emails with customer support. Remember to keep track of all credentials, existing or new, in your spreadsheet so that you can share them with the client.
Have the client give access to an email account that you can use to create accounts.
Many of the directories you will encounter will require you to make an account in order to submit, claim or update a business listing. Most of the time your client will not have an existing account, so you end up having to make one on their behalf. ALWAYS AVOID MAKING THE ACCOUNT USING AN AGENCY OR PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS. Doing this is irresponsible and ties you to the client no matter where your contract stands. Have the client give you an email address and login credentials that is safe for you to access. If necessary, the client could create an account specifically for citation building such as firstname.lastname@example.org so that everyone involved can have the access that they need.
Have a typed copy of the preferred NAP information in an easy to access note.
Local SEOs know that good citation building means using the same NAP consistently on each directory. Despite your good intentions, typos are a reality that everyone faces. For efficient and typo-free citation building, keep a typed copy of your client’s NAP in a note that you can quickly reference. Keep “Gilly’s Dog Wash” from becoming “Golly’s Dog Wish” by copying and pasting from the note for each listing submission or correction.
Have a pre-typed support email.
It’s always best to claim a listing and manage changes that way. However, emails to customer support are appropriate for directories that do not have an account structure or have duplicate listings that need to be removed or consolidated. Recently, I worked with a client that had undergone more than one name and address change and needed their citations cleaned up. Every directory I checked had duplicate citations with varying degrees of accuracy, so I had to write a lot of customer support emails. After a while, I found myself referring to previously sent emails every time I wrote a new support ticket, so I finally created a time-saving template I could use for each new email:
I’m working with (insert client name) in an effort to increase their local search rankings. I noticed that my client’s listing on (insert directory name) contains some inaccuracies, particularly (insert the inaccuracy). Here is the link to the listing:
(insert listing link)
Is it possible to have this listing corrected with the information I have provided below?
(Insert complete version of NAP)
(insert your name)
Mark any support emails with a label in your inbox.
If you end up sending a lot of customer support emails, save yourself a headache and organize each one in your inbox. I use Gmail, so a colorful label under “Client Name- Citation Support” helps me keep up with my progress in case I forget to update my spreadsheet.
Everyone has to create their own process, but I find doing Local SEO much more pleasurable when I can easily keep track of my progress. If you find yourself tackling a tough Local SEO project, give these tips a try and see if they make the difference for you.