citations in local SEO

Citations in Local SEO: The Ultimate Guide

In this digital world, businesses need to gain customers’ trust in order to grow and succeed online. For Local Search Engine Optimization, citations can be your best asset. Citations in local SEO are the brand mentions or references to the brand on the web other than your website. These are valuable ranking factors for local SEO that can help your business to gain trust and attain local search visibility. 

If you want to learn details about citations, their importance, and how they work, here’s everything you need to know about citations in local SEO.

Let’s get started.

What are citations in local SEO?

In local SEO, Citations are the brand mentions and references to the source, including business name, address, and phone number on the web other than your website. These can appear in business directories, social networks, blogs, or websites on the internet. 

Local citations are also referred to as NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) Citations. Usually, NAP is the central requirement for local citations, but businesses can also add additional information to optimize it for local search.

Local citations may or may not include a link to your website. However, if we evaluate their significance, citations with links are more valuable.

What is the importance of citations in Local SEO?

Citation plays a significant role in Local SEO. The following are some most significant reasons.

1. Boost local search ranking

Many SEO believes that search engines use citations to verify your local business’s existence, legality, and reliability. 

Although local Citations are not the major local ranking factor, they are still valuable and can impact the search visibility of the business on local search results. 

This is because when the same business details are available online across all the relevant and reliable sites, this enhances Google’s assurance that your business is dependable and enables it to rank businesses accordingly. Therefore it’s crucial to use exact business details all over the internet to demonstrate your credibility to Google and gain search visibility. 

2. Improve search visibility

Many reliable citation sites and business directories, such as YellowPages, Yelp, and more often dominate the first local search page.  

They consistently rank higher for most local searches and are, therefore, valuable in improving search visibility. You can join these valuable citation sites or business directories to raise the possibility

of ranking on the front page and gaining search visibility.

3. Gain Referral Traffic

Citations are valuable in earning referral traffic. Many users often use citation sites and directories to locate a local business. Therefore, mentioning your business name on multiple reputable citation sites and relevant business directories can put you in front of a wide audience, help you gain search visibility, and, ultimately, increase referral traffic.

Types of citations in local SEO.

Majorly there are two types of citations: Structured and unstructured.

Structured citations- The citations consisting of the NAP details of businesses are referred to as structured citations. For example- social profiles and business directory listings.

Unstructured Citations- The contextual mention of a business is referred to as unstructured citations. For example- mentions in blogs, forums, and press releases.

Where can I build Citations?

You have plenty of business listing opportunities online, but not every one of them may be suitable for your niche. While listing, both the domain authority and the relevancy of the website matter, but you must prioritize relevancy over the domain authority.

Some of the most useful sites for local SEO are: 

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook
  • Bing Maps
  • Apple Maps
  • Foursquare
  • YellowPages
  • Yelp

How to build Citations in local SEO?

With plenty of opportunities out there, you might get perplexed and end up struggling to list your business citations.

The following are the various ways you can use to build citations. Let’s discuss them one by one.

1. Submit citations to Core sites.

Submitting citations to core sites manually on your own will ensure the correct listing of your business. Discover the valuable core sites where your want to list your business and submit your citations.

Some core sites are:

  • GoogleMyBusiness
  • Facebook
  • Apple Maps
  • Bing Places
  • YellowPages
  • Foursquare
  • BBB
  • Yelp

2. Submit citations to industry-specific and local sites.

After submitting your business to core sites, you must submit your business to industry-specific or geo-specific sites to boost your search visibility and drive traffic to your site.

You can find the listing opportunities by using the following sites:

  • Moz – Citations by Category
  • WhiteSpark – Best Citations by Category
  • BrightLocal
  • Yext

Besides these, you can also submit citations by searching sites that are worth listing your business manually. Visit the sites and search for your business. If your business is already listed, make sure the information is correct. If the information is incorrect, claim the listing and fix the errors. In case your business isn’t listed there, ensure to list your business.

You can also use Yext Business Scan to ease the manual listing of your business. It helps you automate the process and discover if your business is listed on important sites. For this, enter your business details and wait for the results. This will show you where your business

is not listed, and where the information is incorrect, you can effortlessly add or edit your business details to those fields.

3. Submit citations with data aggregators.

Submitting citations to hundreds of directories and sites by yourself can be time-consuming. You can take help from data aggregators who collect business information and spread it to hundreds of websites. This will help you get listed on various citation sites effortlessly.

Some major data aggregators are:

  • Express Update 
  • Neustar Localeze
  • Foursquare

Express Update and Neustar Localeze are completely free to use. You can claim, submit and manage your business listing with them easily. Foursquare charges small fees for business listings.

4. Follow unstructured citations.

In addition to the above-structured citation building, an additional way of building citations is the brand mentions in PR, forums, reviews, and blogs. Basically, someone has to cite your business online. Compared to structured citations, these unstructured citations are hard to build. Initially, you can focus on building structured citations and expanding your business. Later, you can build relationships and try to establish unstructured citations.

Usually, unstructured citations contain a backlink to your business that makes them more valuable for local SEO.

Is it worth submitting my business to data aggregators and every listing site?

For local SEO, citations are valuable. However, regarding data aggregators and listing your business to every citation site, SEOs can have different beliefs. Some SEOs favor listing the business on multiple sites, while some focus on listing the business on important and relevant sites only.

In addition, listing on multiple sites require you to invest your money.

Instead of chasing multiple sites, you can submit your business to the most important sites worth submitting and focus on other local SEO factors and optimize your business thoroughly.

How to Optimize Citations for Local SEO

Citations are not just about placing your business information on the web. It’s about establishing and maintaining your correct business information to optimize your local SEO and online presence.

The following are the keys to optimizing your citations.

1. The NAP Consistency

While optimizing citations, the essential thing is to ensure that your name, address, and phone number are consistent all over the web. Incorrect business details can be a bad signal for search engines which might hurt your SEO. Therefore, your NAP information must be the same throughout the citations and business listing sites to help search engines and users.

2. Business Descriptions

Clear and detailed business descriptions can give search engines a better understanding of your business and help them rank it accordingly. Also, using top keywords in descriptions can help you improve your search optimization and, ultimately, your local rankings.

3. Website Link

Adding links to your citations can help your business in multiple ways. It can help users quickly navigate to your site, get additional details about it, and understand it more accurately.

Similarly, it can also help search engines to understand your business better.

4. Photos

Images can better entice users, drive traffic to your site, and bring more business. The images of your business can give users a clear idea of your business and boost customer engagement and conversion.

Additionally, properly optimized images with alt text and image file names can help you rank on image searches, leading to increased traffic and boosting your business.  

5. Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are critical for optimizing a business for local SEO. 

Positive reviews can influence customer trust in your business, drive increased customers and support your business to expand and thrive. 

Additionally, reviews act as a vote of confidence and enhance your business credibility in Google’s eyes. This will help your business to gain increased ranking and boost search visibility.

6. Additional business information.

Besides adding the name, address, phone number, photos, and reviews, you can also add additional information to your citations. Including additional details such as operating hours, business email, logo, description, driving directions, and more can help you better optimize your business and help customers and search engines to better understand your business. 

How often should you check your citations?

You don’t have to check your citations regularly. While building your citations, you only have to make sure that you submit accurate information to all citation sites and business directories.

Once you submit the accurate business details, you don’t have to worry much about the citations again. However, if your business location is changed or you modify the name, phone number, or more, you must update your latest business information all over the sites.

Final Thoughts

Citations in local SEO are vital for local businesses. They are the foundation of local SEO that enables you to optimize your business for local searches and help you gain search visibility to reach local customers. For citations, the most critical thing is consistency. Make sure to keep your name, address, phone number, and other details accurate and up to date. This is because inaccurate details might hurt your SEO and prevent your site from attaining higher rankings.

After listing your business citation to the most meaningful sites, make sure to optimize other aspects of local SEO, such as link-building, local content creation, customer engagement, social media, and more, to optimize your site. This will boost the local search visibility of your site, drive increased traffic and ultimately help you glorify your local business.

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