Importance of Citations on Local SEO

Are you a local business struggling to generate leads?
Are you finding it difficult to increase your customer base?
Then local citations are something that you must focus on.
Local citations can bring about a massive difference to your business website traffic. Increased local citations can ultimately increase your profitability and ROI.

What is Local Citation?

A local citation is an online reference about your business. It usually consists of NAP information. NAP refers to Name-Address-Phone number information.
It can be fetched from any online platform to provide the best possible local results, as shown below.
When an online directory listing mentions your business name, we call it local citation.
A local citation can consist of any of the following information:

  • Only business name
  • Business name and phone number
  • Business name, address, and phone number
  • NAP along with a link to your local business website
  • Any other information such as opening hours and reviews

Local citations play a vital role in determining your local SEO rankings. It is because citations are an important local ranking factor for Google. Google uses citations to validate the popularity and credibility of your local business.
When a local citation consists of NAP information, we call it a complete citation.
Having consistent NAP details is essential for good local rankings. It means the NAP details everywhere around the internet should be the same.
For example, NAP details mentioned on your local website should match the same on any local citation.

What are the Types of Local Citations?

There are various types of citations that any local business can get. But Google considers some as more valuable than others.
The reason is that not every citation will carry the same weightage. The relevance of a citation also matters.
For example, suppose that you are a local restaurant owner. Then a local citation from a restaurant review website will be more relevant and valuable.
The authority of the website that consists of the local citation also matters.
For example, Yelp citations will be highly valuable. The reason is that the authority and reputation of Yelp might be high as compared to other websites.
Citations for local websites also add value to your local SEO services.
Here are a few types of local citations:

Google My Business

Google My Business or GMB is Google’s citation. It is considered the most trusted source of local citations.
Using this free tool, you can add your local business citation and get ranked for local searches. You can add your NAP information here so that local users can easily contact your business.


You can also add local citations of your business on Facebook. Facebook gives you the option of adding NAP information to your local business. It helps to improve your local search rankings on Google.


Yelp is one of the most popular online directories out there. It has a vast majority of listings of local businesses. Adding a local citation on Yelp can be highly beneficial for your local SEO rankings.

Bing Maps

Bing is the second most popular search engine worldwide. Just like Google my Business, Bing maps is the citation by Bing. You can add your NAP details and your location on Bing maps. It will, again, help to increase your overall local SEO rankings.

Link Building Vs. Citations

Many people tend to think that local citations are the same as backlinks to your website. But that is not the case. Link building is entirely different from getting local citations.
For example, Here, a site is mentioned in over 7K+ websites. But not all of them cite the contact information of the business.
Here are the top differences between link building and citation building:

Link Building Citation Building
Hyperlink A backlink will always have a hyperlink to your website. A citation may or may not have a hyperlink to your local business website.
NAP A backlink from a website might not consist of NAP (Name-Address-Phone number) information. A local citation will usually have NAP details about your local business. If not complete NAP details, it will at least have your business name.
Local Rankings Link building affects search engine rankings. But, link building is not as effective for local SEO as citations are. Citations are extremely valuable for local SEO. Having more local citations can have a massive impact on your local search rankings compared to link building.
CIntent A backlink usually indicates the quality of your content. If your website content is valuable, then you’ll earn many backlinks. It happens when other websites recommend your content to their audience. It helps with the overall SEO of your site. The intent behind a local citation is usually different from a backlink. In case of a local citation, an online directory lets users know about your local business. It helps to build trust signals with Google and users.

How to Create Local Citations?

The quantity of local citations is important for local SEO. However, quality is even more important. Hence, you should be careful while building local citations for your business.
Going after the wrong sites can hurt your local search rankings.

Related : Common Local SEO Mistakes & How To Fix Them

Here’s how you can create local citations for your business website:

1. Get Citation on Data Aggregators for Better Local SEO

Submitting your local citations to thousands of websites cannot be feasible. The reason is that it will take a lot of unnecessary time to find such websites and list your citation.
Another disadvantage is that the citation data might not be consistent if you do it this way. NAP inconsistencies can lead to lowered local search rankings.
Here’s an example of how it might go wrong.
Hence the better way to go about it is through data aggregators. These are websites that collect information about businesses. And then, they submit it across various websites on the internet.
It means, suppose you get your citation on data aggregators. Then numerous other sites across the web will have your local citation. The top data aggregators in the US are Neustar Localeze, and Express Update.
Some of these data aggregators are free to claim and get cited. While others may need approvals, these sites might already have listed your business. In that case, you can claim the listing with accurate information. If your business is not listed, you can create a new one and claim it.

2. Submit Local SEO Citations to the Main Sites

Data aggregators will distribute your information to various listings. But, you also need to do some work yourself.
As the next step, you can get local citations on the main core websites. It will immensely help with your local search rankings.
Some of the core sites for local SEO citations are:

You can find a list of top local citation directories and add your citations to these top websites. All of these might not be worth your time. You should add your citations to the most notable and popular ones.
You can also see where your competitors have got citations and use the same websites.
You can find them using any competitor citation analysis tool like Brightlocal.
For submitting these local citations, you can follow two approaches.

  • You can either add these citations manually on each online directory.
  • You can also take the help of submission and management services. These services will get local citations on various directories for you.

3. Improve Local SEO by Finding Other Industry and Location-Based Citations

After the popular citations, you can go after other specific directories. These can be industry-specific online directories.
For instance, suppose you are a dentist. Then, you may get your citation listed on dentist-specific online directories. You can use a list of industry-specific directories to find the best listings for your local business.
Or, citations can also be specific to your location. You can find geo-specific location directories using a simple Google search.
This is quintessential for businesses to get listed in all local business directories where it operates.
For example, suppose you are a local business in Seattle. Then you can search for “Seattle business listings” or “Seattle business directory” on Google. This way, you’ll get a list of location-based directories.

4. Get Unstructured Local SEO Citations

Unstructured citations are different from the usual online directory listings. These are mentions of your local business on blog articles or forum posts. These can also come from online reviews and press mentions.
Unstructured citations do not necessarily have all the NAP details. But these are just a mention and a brief description of your local business.
There are freemium tools like Awario to find your unlinked mentions and competitors’ mentions to target.
Unstructured citations can also be a great way to beat your competitors. These will help you climb up local search rankings. However, getting these citations is difficult as compared to the other structured citations.
For finding unstructured local citations, you can research your competitors. You can use keyword research tools like ahrefs and SEMrush for this purpose.
Find the unstructured citations that your competing local business has. You can reach out to the same sites and land an unstructured citation for your local business as well.

Importance of Local Citation on Local SEO

Let’s look at some of the top reasons why local citations are important for local SEO:

1. Local Citations Help to Improve Local Search Rankings

BrightLocal did an SEO citation study on citation profiles of 122,125 local businesses. They found that the top 10 positions on Google local search results have an average of 81 citations.
Here’s the graphical representation of how businesses rank on SERP based on the number of citations they have.
It indicates that there is a high correlation between citations and local rankings. Suppose your business has more number of local citations. Then your local search rankings will be better.
The quality of local citations is also important. Suppose that high-quality online directories list your business. Then your local rankings will also increase. The number of industry-specific and location-specific citations also matters.
Google uses all these citations as trust signals. Suppose that Google finds many such citations for your local business. Then your business’s credibility will improve.
Google’s trust factor for your local business also improves. All these things lead to a massive improvement in local SEO rankings.

2. Local Citations Help to Build Trust with Customers

Apart from search engines, local citations also have an impact on users.
Suppose that your potential customers find your business’s citation on many directories. Then this will automatically have a positive impact on their mind.
For instance, when your business is shown from multiple platforms in Google SERP or local citation platform search, the audience assumes it be a well-known brand.
Your prospective customers will find your business more reliable and reputable. Hence, they are more likely to pick your local business over your competitors.
Local citations also lead to a positive perception of your business in the minds of your users. It leads to better reviews and ratings. And this ultimately leads to improved brand reputation and profitability for your business.
Through popular local citations, your business will become a well-known name in your locality.

3. High-Quality Local Citations Help to Beat Local SEO Competitors

The quality and quantity of competition play a major role in your local SEO rankings. The reason is that all the search engine results are relative. The business that seems to be the best possible option for the searcher gets ranked first.
If you want to climb to the top of the local SERPs, then beating competition will be a big part. Gaining high-quality local citations will help you do that.
So, it’s cardinal to list in top citation platforms and secure a top position in its search results.
Let’s assume that top online directories list your local business citation on their website. However, your competitor’s citation doesn’t appear in these top online directories. Then, Google will most likely list your local business on the top local search results.
Users will also perceive your local business as a better option for their needs.

4. Google Uses Local Citations to Verify the Accuracy of your Listing

As mentioned before, NAP is a major contributor in determining your local rankings. For local SEO, the accuracy of information is very important. That is why Google pays special attention to NAP listings and consistency.
Suppose that your NAP details on Yelp are different as compared to your NAP details on Yellow Pages. Then this will hurt your local rankings.
Google uses NAP consistency of local citations as a measure of the accuracy of your listing.
But, commonly, businesses create hundreds of citations over the years. So, it may, sometimes, become cumbersome to maintain accuracy. Thus, you can get a free audit of your local citations.
Suppose your local business has 50 citations. And all of these have the same NAP details. Then this will lead to an improvement in rankings.
Accuracy of listings acts as a positive factor in contributing to better local search rankings. It is because the accuracy of listings helps to improve user experience. And, Google values user experience more than anything else.

Related : The Role of UX in Local SEO

5. Citations Help to Improve Brand Awareness, Thus Leading to Better Local SEO

Let’s suppose a user repeatedly comes across your brand name on popular online directories such as Yelp or Manta. Then, the user will soon get familiarized with your brand and its offering.
The user might even take an interest in your products and services. He/she might check out your website and consider visiting your business location. These factors lead to increased brand awareness for your business.
Increased brand awareness leads to a better online reputation. Better reputation can be in the form of ratings, reviews, and check-ins. All these factors lead to increased sales and revenue for your local business.

Related : Reviews & Its Role in Local SEO

Moreover, better brand awareness also significantly contributes to word-of-mouth marketing. More prospects will refer your brand to their friends and family. It will considerably increase your customer base.

6. Through Local Citations, You Can Piggyback on Top Local SEO Positions

Another great benefit of local citation is that you get to piggyback your way to top SERP results.
As a new local business, you might not be able to climb to the local SERPs’ top immediately. It is difficult to beat the highly reputable online directories.
But, you can get a local citation on their site.
And this way, your local business can be a part of the top local SEO results. It can be helpful as most users trust these popular directories and their citations.
Hence, if these directories cite your local business and land on top of SERPs, you’ll gain many benefits from it.

7. Earn Referral Local Traffic Through Citations

Many online directories add links to your local business website. It can lead to a steady stream of referral traffic to your local business website.
Many users would find your business name on these listings. They would be willing to check out more about you. This increased traffic will contribute to better rankings for your local business.
Even if online directories do not add links to your website, you can still gain referral traffic. Many users would search for your brand name on Google. They might do this to check out your website, ratings, reviews, and directions.
It will lead to increased traffic to your website. These will also lead to numerous branded searches for your business name. These will have a significant positive impact on your local search rankings.


Local citations are important for good local SEO rankings. Suppose you want to rank amongst the top positions on Google local search. Then working on gaining citations is a must.
You can use the techniques provided in this guide to start with your citation building. Over time, you’ll notice a considerable increase in your local rankings.
If you have any more questions about citation, or if you’d like to find out what we can do for your company, do get in touch. Our local SEO experts are waiting for you.

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Joseph Schneider

He has spent more than 12 Years in strategising and executing SEO campaigns. He is interested to writing Digital-marketing, PPC and Social Media Marketing related topics.


Joseph Schneider

He has spent more than 12 Years in strategising and executing SEO campaigns. He is interested to writing Digital-marketing, PPC and Social Media Marketing related topics.