Any time your agency is listed anywhere online or in print, it is referred to as a “citation”. Over the years, your business can end up being listed in dozens or hundreds of locations.

The problem is that what is true this year may not be true next year. You could change office locations. You could start accepting different categories of clients. You could add or drop specialties. Things change.

In years past, consumers would use the phone book, rely on word-of-mouth, or simply drive around to find a local business. But with the advent of search engines, the world changed forever. Searching is as simple as typing or speaking a few words to have information at your fingertips.

When you register – or, more likely get registered by some other entity – on various sites and directories it is probable, but not assured, that the information is correct. Believe it or not, if you have not claimed a site like Yelp, a customer can do it for you, simply by leaving you a review that you may not know even exists.

A citation typically includes what is called your NAP; Name, Address, Phone number. Beyond that, it can include your URL, hours of business, images and videos, and all manner of other information, depending on the site. A link to your URL is particularly important.

Key citations are almost always local. That means your record will include information about the geography you serve. All too often, in the case of home care agencies, they will get identified with their specific physical address when they serve an area many counties wide. To prevent this, all home care agencies should be listed as “service area businesses” wherever possible – particularly Google. Service area businesses can define their trading area by zip code, city or county.

Why does it matter?

Local citations are absolutely key to the visibility of a business online. The eldest daughter who lives in Chicago with a mother who lives in Denver knows she wants to talk to someone about home care. She know what she wants, but probably does not know who she wants. Local citations help your visibility and enhance the chance you will get a phone call.

When your citations are inconsistent or inaccurate, a prospective client loses confidence in your ability to deliver. According to BrightLocal’s 2018 Local Citations Trust Report:

  • 93% of consumers say they are frustrated by incorrect information in online directories
  • 80% of consumers lose trust in local businesses if they see incorrect or inconsistent contact details or business names online
  • In the last 12 months, 71% of consumers had a negative experience because of incorrect local business information found online
  • In the last year, 22% of consumers visited the wrong location for a business because the address was incorrect online.
  • Upon finding an inaccurate listing, consumers are more likely to blame the local business than the directory.
  • 40% would give up looking for a local business that they couldn’t find because the address was wrong online.
  • 68% of consumers would stop using a local business if they found incorrect information in online directories.

In order for an agency’s information (data) to always be correct it needs to be properly maintained (kept “clean”) not only for the main listings, but for every directory and data aggregator where a business is mentioned online. Inaccurate data on a citation reflects badly on the business. And, from the data above, you can see it can make potential clients lose trust.

So, what can you do about it?

There are several things an agency owner can do to eliminate “dirty data”. It starts with an audit. To quickly determine where you stand on a sampling of sites totally free, you can use the link, NOTE: Wait for the system to auto-send you a full report by email. The immediate report is too limited to be really helpful.

To do a full audit, follow these steps:

After you have the free preliminary report, search online for any citations your agency may have, not just those in the report.

  • Document all potential name, address and phone number variations.
  • Find citations with incorrect business names. Search using the business’ phone number and a minus sign followed by the correct business’ name in quotation marks. That will expose variations of the business name that are incorrect or inconsistent.
  • Use the data collected to determine which citations need to be cleaned up. Start with those on the most popular websites, local directories, and industry-specific directories.
  • Clean up the agency’s data by updating the NAP information. This includes the data aggregators – Infogroup, Neustar Localeze and Acxiom. Follow with Dun & Bradstreet, Factual, Google My Business & Bing Local.

Make your life easy

Now you have all of the information necessary to conduct an audit and clean up your online data. There is no mystery to it, but it is a lot of time-consuming work. We can help.

At Rowan Reputation Resources, we have a team of people who have done this hundreds of times and can complete the process in about eight to ten weeks. The total one-time cost is $400. From there you can maintain it yourself or we will reconduct the audit and make corrections annually for $125.

To get a copy of the details and the data template we use to aggregate all of your information in one place for accurate distribution to over five dozen of the most important sites plus the data aggregators (that cover the rest of the world), please go to, complete the short form and check the box next to “Citation Cleaning”.

So, get busy cleaning that data. Or, send us a message and we will help you.