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A Complete Guide to Local Citations to Enhance Your Local SEO

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Local SEO is the best practice that businesses can adopt to drive more in-store traffic. And local citations are one of the core parts of overall local SEO strategy.

Today, we will walk you through important points on local citations, like what they are, their significance, how to build a proper local citation strategy and more. So, buckle up and get ready to learn all you need to know about using local citations for local SEO purposes. Bookmark this page for whenever you need help with your journey.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Local citations

The word ‘citations’ may give you nostalgia and throw you back to your school days. Sorry to burst your bubble, but we’re not going to talk about that type of citation here.

What are Local citations?

A local citation is when your business or business information is mentioned on a local directory or a third-party website like Yelp, Facebook, Bing Places, MapQuest, etc.

This information is generally your business’s name, address and phone number, which in abbreviation is called NAP. Additional information like business hours, products, images and social media links are also a part of local citations.

Local citations

Local citations are regarded as ‘the new link’ by some experts. Although, there is a difference between the two.

Here, links are not always links. They could just be an address and phone number related to a particular business.

Even though they’re not necessarily a ‘vote’ factor for any business, they do validate the existence of a business at a particular location. That way, they increase the relevance of a business for a particular search.

These mentions of your business and business information online can be of various sorts. For example, Google My Business, business directories, review sites, local guides, industry-specific sites, social media pages, apps and information all around the web count as local citations.

These citations help Google and other search engines to verify your business’s data.

Let me tell you four of the most popular business citation directories:

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook
  • Bing Maps
  • Yelp
business citation directories

Listing your business in these indexes should be your first step.

Once indexed, the local citation works very much like a link works for your organic SEO, and helps your local rankings boost upwards.

Most local citations will remain under your control. Let’s say you submit your site to a local business directory for example, you can go back and edit the information that you’ve provided there whenever needed.

But, some citations like local media coverage will not be in your control.

Some local citations are free and some ask you to pay. There are also some who will ask you to place a reciprocal link on your website in order to verify your information.

Types of Local citations

There are two different types of local citations, structured and unstructured.

Structured local citations

Name, address and phone number, this is the common sequence in which you’ll see information related to a business on websites and business directories. When you see citations in this order and format, we call it structured local citations.

Structured local citations

You can find structured local citations on business directories like Yelp, Bing, MapQuest, Apple Maps, etc.

Unstructured local citations

Unstructured local citations are not as common as structured local citations, but they’re equally valuable.

As the term gives out, unstructured local citations don’t follow a structured format in terms of information submitted on a website or any other platform. They can be laid out in any piece of information on the web such as a local newspaper article.

This even includes blog posts, press mentions and forum threads, where your business may be mentioned in a conversational manner. For example, the mention might say something like “Senor iPhone is located at 4180 S Rainbow Blvd Ste 803, Las Vegas” and after that “Call +1 702-330-0725 to know more about the services.

What matters is that all the necessary information can be found on the same page, even though it’s not together or in order. It’s a little more exercise for search engines to scrape it. But still, that doesn’t make it any less valuable.

Citations vs Listings vs Directories

You may often hear these terms along with one another, but it’s important to know the difference between citations, listings and directories.  We’ll be using these terms in this article a lot, so it’s important for you to understand the difference.

Citations vs Listings vs Directories

Citation: business information (Senor iPhone, 4180 S Rainbow Blvd Ste 803, Las Vegas, NV 89103, United States, +1 702-330-0725, etc.)

Listing: the page that contains citations for a business on a business directory.

Directory: the business directory or website that contains searchable listings.

Do local citations need links?

Local citations don’t necessarily need to have links. Even just the mention of your business’s name has its own significance.

What Google picks up on is that the information related to your business-like name, address, phone number, etc., is mentioned on a website that it trusts. It helps Google to verify and trust your business. So, the more credible mentions of your business will mean a healthier chance for your local rank to improve.

So, links don’t matter in local citations? They do, a lot. Only because local citations have value even without links doesn’t mean that links aren’t valuable. Local citations that have links are even more valuable than citations that don’t.

Chapter 2: The Importance of Local citations in Local SEO

The first and most important step was to understand what local citations are. Now that you know what local citations exactly mean, we can talk further on how they can benefit with your local SEO.

In this next section, we’ll talk about how local citations help improve local search rankings.

Improving local search and organic rankings

The most influential ranking factors are:

  • The number of local citations a business accumulates.
  • The accuracy of the information.
  • The quality of directories.

So, how do local citations help rankings? Google and other search engines gather the data of businesses from all around the web. If what they amass about your business is accurate and consistent, it develops trust with the search engine about the validation of your business’s data, which ultimately increases the ranking chances.

On the other hand, if the data they accumulate about your business is inconsistent, it will leave a negative impact on your business’s online reputation and local SEO.

Even though they’re not as impactful as they were a couple of years ago, local citations still have their significance in local pack and organic rankings.

In a study conducted by BrightLocal, 90% of local SEO experts consider accurate and consistent local citations to be critically important.

Being present where customers are looking

It’s general knowledge now that customers do their research before buying any products or services. In this research period, they often go through local citations and directories looking for more information on products and services.

It’s not necessary that consumers will stick to Google only. They’ll be going to different directories for different needs. For example, if you’re looking for a good place to have dinner, going to TripAdvisor sounds like a better option than Google.

Being present where customers are looking

The point is that consumers may not even ask Google for certain specific queries. So, doesn’t being present in places where customers are searching for you make so much sense?

Rank on first page of organic SERPs

When you search for a local provider, more often than not will you find directories such as Yelp and Groupon to appear as some of the top organic results.

Rank on first page of organic SERPs

These mammoths are too tough to beat. So, instead of fighting them for ranks, why not join them? Meaning that you add your business listing in these directories and rank with them.

Search engines like Google and Bing have great faith in popular citation sites like these, as you’d notice that the most of the top results for local searches are dominated by local directories.

For example, if you’ve ever performed a search for a coaching class or a plumber, you would’ve found that most of the first page is covered with directories like Yelp and not the websites owned by coaching classes or plumbers.

Even though Google is the most popular choice to search for anything, some people might directly go to local directories like Yelp in search of something they’re looking for.

These findings are backed by BrightLocal’s study that showed that directories get the majority of clicks where an area is specified in a search.

This should give you an idea how important it is for your business to be present in local directories.

More links to your website

It’s common sense now that you need links from authoritative and trusted websites linking back to your site, in order to have strong SEO. This is where citations can do wonders to your organic SEO.

Spending a few minutes on business listing directories will tell you that almost all of them have a dedicated field for ‘Website URL.’

The best news is that some of these directories show these links as ‘dofollow,’ which means that search engines can vouch on them to pass on link equity (link juice) to your site.

What does a dofollow link mean?

In a nutshell, dofollow links help your website rank better in search engine result pages.

They are HTML tags that signal search bots to follow the respective links. When a webmaster provides a link to your website with a dofollow tag, the crawlers and search bots will know to follow those links, which will help search engines with evaluating your website’s online authority.

Possibility of more third-party reviews

Prominence, relevance and proximity are the top three factors for ranking in Google’s local pack.

Prominence means to have a positive online reputation. The more positive mentions your business has around the web the better. Good reviews mean positive mentions.

Possibility of more third-party reviews

Local citation sites can also be seen as review sites, since they allow the consumers to review businesses and describe their experience with businesses.

In addition to you delivering outstanding services to your customers, these business listings on citation sites will be a tremendous benefit for your business and chances to rank in the local pack. Your customers will be able to let other consumers know about their outstanding experience with your business.

Why it's important to manage local citations

Simply put, unmanaged local citations will confuse consumers as well as search engines.

BrightLocal’s citations trust report reveals very surprising results. A whopping 93% of consumers find imprecise information to be frustrating.

That’s why it is extremely important to keep the information on local citations to be up-to-date and accurate. Otherwise, you may push away potential customers.

We’ll dive more into the importance of data accuracy in this next chapter.

Chapter 3: Importance of Data Accuracy in Local citations

We’ve already walked over NAP earlier in this article. In this chapter, we’ll go further down the path and explore the importance of NAP in local citations and how inconsistent and inaccurate data can hurt your rank very badly.

What is NAP?

You may have heard tons of acronyms in the digital marketing world. Some of the most popular would be SEO, PPC, CPC, CTA, SERP, NAP, and so on.

You’ll hear a lot about NAP in the local SEO department. That’s because it’s one of the fundamentals in the overall local SEO picture. Generally speaking, NAP is not that difficult to understand, but it does need observation and moderation, especially consistency.

The mention of NAP consistency may give you a funny feeling in your stomach. If we’re being honest, it does sound a bit concerning, taking in the fact that getting it wrong can ruin your online reputation.

Luckily, it’s not as complicated as one may think. Nevertheless, it’s extremely important to get it right and keep it that way, because ultimately, NAP consistency will play a great role in your local rankings.

What does NAP stand for?

The acronym NAP means:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
What does NAP stand for?

These three pieces of information are extremely important on their own, but in unity and accuracy (or inaccuracy), they can prove to be the reason a customer comes to your store or gets lost and frustrated.

So, where does the website fit into the NAP?

In your local SEO journey, you’ll hear terms like NAPW or UNAP citations. The ‘W’ in NAPW stands for ‘website’ and ‘U’ in UNAP refers to ‘URL.’ Adding your website URL in the NAP adds more to its value. It provides extra data for search engines to connect your local citation to your business.

So, where does the website fit into the NAP

The citations that don’t have all three segments of NAP are referred to as ‘partial citation.’

You’ll also find some local citations and listings of your business that you never set up. That is merely a result of you going about your routine marketing activities on the internet that some NAP listings emerge naturally.

For instance, you create a Facebook page for your business. By simply filling your business details in the profile, you’ve created a NAP citation right there.

Another example is when you post details of a business event online to promote it. That is another NAP citation that you’ve created.

Similarly, when you enroll as an exhibitor for an exhibition and the organizers publish your information online or mention you in a blog, local newspaper, etc., that will add to your NAP mentions without you even trying.

What about NAP mentions on your own website?

By now, we stand clear that NAP mentions can come in many different forms through different channels, from business directories to social media platforms, customer reviews to blogs and articles, and NAP accuracy and consistency on your own website matters as much as these local citations if not more.

Your website is the place where you will talk about your business and naturally mention details about your business such as name, address and phone number. Whether you mention all three together or in different parts of a page, they will count as NAP citations.

What about NAP mentions on your own website

Hence, it’s important that you’re equally careful of the accuracy and consistency of the information that you put on your website as well.

How does inaccuracy in NAP occur?

People generally fall prey to the idea of NAP being a purposeful thing when seeking to build local citations.

It’s more than possible that you get caught up in creating first-hand-citations and start neglecting NAP consistency for the NAPs that you’ve created as byproducts of your activities. If you think about it, it’s a natural thing that will occur in the course of your marketing activities like writing a blog or creating web pages.

Another reason for NAP inconsistency can be that not all NAP occurrences follow the same format. Consistency can be a little difficult to maintain when you are submitting the information of your business in different ways, different locations and for different purposes.

For example, you’re filling out a social media profile at one moment and buying a local directory listing the next.

Additionally, you won’t be able to control all the NAP mentions about your business around the web. Say a local newspaper or magazine publishes a tabloid about your business and doesn’t add the zip-code in the address, or forgets to add LLC in your business name. They still count as inaccurate NAP citations.

If you’re getting assistance from someone, a local SEO agency for example, to help you with your local SEO, it’s also possible that they may be submitting inconsistent and inaccurate NAP. So, you might want to re-check that.

What are duplicate listings?

Duplicate listings can leave a giant negative impact on your local citation building efforts and the overall local SEO.

A duplicate business listing is when a business has more than one listing in the same directory for the same location. Google My Business for example, when two listings are considered duplicates when they have the same business names, even if the details entered are different.

What are duplicate listings

To give you an example, let’s say you run a restaurant that has both dine-in and takeout options. You create two different listings for your restaurant on Yelp, one for the dine-in menu and the other for the takeout menu. It will be called a duplicate listing.

How do duplicate listings occur?

You may find several duplicate listings that you’re not aware of or some that you haven’t created intentionally. It can happen for a number of reasons, here are some of them:

Accidental duplicate listings

It’s possible that your co-worker or your local SEO agency may have created a local citation on a site where you already have a business listing. If you’ve been building local citations for a long period, that would be natural to happen.

That is why it is best to keep a record of all the local citations that you create, which will make it easier for you to avoid accidental duplication.

Aggregation

Some listing sites accumulate their data from different sources. Having inconsistent NAP on the web can lead these sites to create duplicate listings for your business with slightly different data, and ultimately piling up on your duplicate listing problem.

Loss of credentials

Changes in business information is natural to occur over time.

For example, you may be relocating your business to a new location or you change your business’s phone number.

Additionally, there could be cases where you don’t have access to your listing anymore, for example a former employee or old agency used to manage your listings, you’d probably lose the access to those listings. In such cases, you might just go ahead and create a new listing. That’s another way you could’ve created a duplicate listing.

Again, keeping track of all the information including credentials of your listings will help you avoid the loss of your listings.

In attempt of organic SEO growth

SEO algorithms and practices are in a permanent state of evolution. So, it is more than possible that your former digital marketing agency or SEO executive created multiple listings on the same directories in hope of organic SEO growth.

This is definitely not a good SEO practice anymore, even if your SEO executive believed it to be a few years ago. So, double-check whether your SEO executive(s) created duplicate listings in the past or not.

NAP citations accuracy

One of the questions that businesses ask most often is about the format in which you submit business details online. For example, if Avenue vs Ave, Street vs St or No. vs # matter that much.

Fortunately, things have evolved a lot in the past few years. Google and other search engines are now smart enough to pick up on slight variations and abbreviations to relate them with their full forms. Otherwise, there would’ve been piles of duplicate business listings for each and every business.

Dissimilarities like ‘SOC’ vs ‘S.O.C’ don’t really come in the way of Google’s attempt to recognize these as the same business information.

So, better focus on bigger details and not worry about these minor differences.

The importance of accurate and consistent NAP citations

As we’ve already discussed earlier in this article, NAP consistency and accuracy is critically important. Now we’ll go deeper into why it’s so important.

According to BrightLocal’s local ranking factors survey, NAP citation consistency is one of the top 7 ranking factors to rank in the local pack.

The importance of accurate and consistent NAP citations

In addition to having an impact on your ranking in local search, NAP can have a direct impact on your image as a business. It could lead to negative online reviews if the customers get disappointed with the inaccurate information.

So, even though NAP is quite simple on its own, there’s a lot going on under the hood, which needs to be taken care of.

Inaccurate information can affect SEO

Again, NAP is an extremely important ranking factor because it adds to the on-page and citation signals that contribute to your business’s presence in the local pack.

A study report shows that the businesses that rank in the top 10 of local pack have an average of around 80 citations, the ones ranking in the top spot have an average of 85 citations and those ranking in 10th position have an average of 75 citations. As the report clearly suggests, the more local citations you build the better.

It is also common sense that search engines like Google and Bing rely on local citations to accumulate your business details from around the web.

Factors like the number of local citations Google finds from around the web, how accurate they are and how reliable the data sources are, all come together to help Google form a picture of your business.

So, when Google finds local citations containing accurate and consistent NAP, Google can confidently present those businesses to the searchers.

Inaccurate citations lead to consumer distrust

As I mentioned earlier, about 90% of customers find it really annoying when they find inaccurate business details online.

Imagine you dial a number from a listing online and the number is not active. You’re bound to get frustrated.

Local searches are very high on intent; hence it shouldn’t come as a surprise that customers get frustrated because of inaccurate information.

According to Think With Google, 88% of people who conduct a local search visit a local store within a week.

Inaccurate information can affect SEO

Nine out of ten customers admit to looking up the address of a business online before visiting the location. So, it is your responsibility to make sure the NAP is consistent and customers find the correct information about your business.

If the consumers find different addresses for your location or if the zip code is inconsistent, that would add to their confusion and eventually lead them to abandon their plans of visiting you.

Similarly, when consumers visit the location mentioned online and don’t find it at the given address, one out of three people admit that they stop trying and go to a competitor instead. Here, inconsistency in NAP can lead to revenue loss and prove to be costly.

So, the more consistent your NAP citations are the more confident consumers will be about your listing.

NAP consistency drives conversion

Google’s own research data shows that 96% users pick up their smartphones when looking to get something done. 87% of those users go to a search engine – the first thing, which makes the search results their first step towards what you would hope to be their road to purchase.

NAP consistency drives conversion

When a consumer finds your business’s directory listing, GMB profile, a social media link or an article about you, it’s as good as them finding your website. These are all portals where customers will potentially find you, hence it makes keeping the NAP up-to-date extremely important.

Just as accurate and consistent NAP citations can encourage consumers to make a purchase, inaccurate and inconsistent NAP citations can push them away. According to a study, customers feel that it is the business’ responsibility to correct the incorrect information and not the directories that are hosting their listings.

You might lose referral traffic because of NAP inconsistency

So far, we’ve understood that NAP consistency is an important factor in someone’s journey to becoming a consumer from a searcher.

We’ve also established that NAP citations are one of the local SEO necessities, as it gives Google the confidence that the data they are showing for a particular query is indeed accurate and will serve its purpose, but only if the data is accurate and consistent.

The consumers would not only be disappointed if the information they find is inaccurate, they’ll also be pissed as they expect local businesses to fix the errors present in inaccurate NAP.

That will hurt your reputation as a business and might lead to a downfall in website traffic and in-store traffic.

Also, whether your NAP appears in a webpage, a business profile or social media, it will only be visible to search engines and searchers if the data there is accurate and consistent.

All in all, you’ll lose the referral traffic that you might get from sources like directories, reviews or even word-of-mouth if your NAP is inconsistent or inaccurate.

Consistent NAP can improve voice search appearance

Artificial intelligence is one of the hottest digital marketing trends. According to Google, voice search is the second most quickly adopted type of technology after the smartphone itself.

Technology is making it easier to do stuff by the day. Searchers are pivoting towards conducting a voice search from their smartphones rather than having to type and search.

Voice search makes it even more convenient when you’re driving and want to search the internet for a business’s exact location.

SEMrush’s 2019 study had shown that 80% of the results returned in a voice search were picked up from the top three organic search results. This goes without saying but NAP being a known ranking factor in local SEO, it definitely makes the cut for being on the most important factors checklist to rank in voice search results.

Google’s Jared Belsky in a piece said that “Smart speakers give one answer at a time, so if you’re not the first, you’re as good as last.”

Other important information in local citations apart from NAP

There are a few more items in your business information that you need to keep consistent along with the NAP in local citations.

Your website URL and email address has to be accurate and consistent across the web. As both of them bring potential customers a step closer to your business, this should be an obvious measure.

Talking about products and services, you don’t want to mislead your customers with false or old information about your products and services online. Customers should get exactly what they saw on your listing and decide to do business with you.

Similarly, you want to make sure that all the products and/or services that you provide have been listed in your business profile. You don’t want to miss out on potential leads because they didn’t find what they were looking for on your listing, even though you provide it.

Keep your social media profiles and links consistent. Consumers often turn to social media to explore more about products and businesses before they take a call on them. So, you want to make sure that your social media profiles have all the updated information and the links to those handles are accurate and consistent.

Chapter 4: Local citations Building for Local SEO

So far, we covered what local citations are, why they’re important for your business’s online presence and important pieces in local citations like NAP and more. In this chapter, we’ll learn how to build citations around the web for local SEO purposes.

What is a local citation building?

Local citation building is a term used for the process of building business listings on the web for SEO and local SEO purposes. Look at it this way, local citations are the mention of your business on the web and citation building is the process of increasing the mentions of your business online.

In this example below, everything you see from Google My Business profile to social media links to local directories, are all results of local citation building:

What is a local citation building

How many local citations do we need?

What are high-quality local citations?

Google and other search engines look for trustworthy sources. High-quality local citations means that the website you’re building the citation on is of your specific niche and most importantly, of high domain authority.

Having said that, you shouldn’t completely disregard building lower-quality citations, as they add to your business’s overall authority. So, even though they might not drive you any direct leads, keep building lower-quality citations too if you have the time and resources.

A lot of businesses wonder how many local citations do they need to build for them to be effective in local SEO terms. The answer to that is pretty straightforward, as many as possible. The more high-quality local citations you build, the better it will work for local SEO.

Building accurate and consistent local citations on local business directories improves your local SEO and helps you increase your rank in local searches, ultimately increasing your sales and revenue.

But it won’t be an easy task to achieve. You’ll need to build quality citations on dozens of high-quality websites, and keep on doing so. It should always be an ongoing task; you can’t just be done with it.

How to build local citations?

So, we’ve gone through what local citation building is and how many we need for best results. It’s now time to learn how to build citations.

There are three approaches with which local citations are built, each having their strengths and flaws.

One of these (or more) approaches will be used whether you choose to build citations yourself, get help from automated tools or hire a local SEO agency to do it for you.

  • Direct local citations submissions: In this approach, a person fills out details of the business that they want to create a listing for, all by hand. With this approach, you will have better resources to reach the most specific directories about your niche. Another benefit of this approach is that everything happens in vision of a human eye, hence the chances of submission errors would be minimal. The drawback of this approach would be that you have to do it all by yourself and it’s time consuming.
  • Automated local citation submissions: As the name gives out, automated local citation submission means when a citation building system or an API is used to fill details in your business profile on citation sites. Even though it’s time-efficient, this approach produces higher chances of errors in submission, and as you don’t have the benefit of a human eye, your reach for quality sites would be limited.
  • Data aggregator submissions: This approach, like automated submission, also builds citations automatically, but in a more accurate manner. To name three big data aggregators in the USA, they are Neustar Localeze, Foursquare and Data Axle.

We’ll go through all these processes one by one.

Direct local citations submissions

The first step for submitting local citations manually is to make sure that there isn’t any pre-existing listing for your business on the directory that you’re making the submission on.

In this section, you’ll learn how to submit local citations manually without the risk of duplicates or inconsistent NAP.

Step 1: Checking for existing local citations

Before you can start to build new local citations, you’ll have to identify the ones that you already have. This can be an extremely difficult task as you’d have to go through each directory and look for listings under your name. Fortunately, there’s a tool for that. BrightLocal’s Citation Tracker can not only help you find all your existing citations but can also help you find inconsistencies in NAP.

You can also use BrightLocal’s Local Listings Health Scanner if you’re tight on budget and need to check the top citation sites. It allows you to look up your business listing in 15 local directories for free.

Step 2: Finding high-quality local citation sources

We’ve already been through what high-quality local citation means. Now, we’ll go further on the path for how a good local citation building should look.

As it is with links, the quality control factor needs to be kept in mind at all times. The first thing you should do is go for popular and widely known sites (Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc.) and/or directories that are specific to your industry or location.

In local SEO, quality has way higher value than quantity, so try and keep hunting for only the good quality sites. Another thing to keep in mind is that local SEO benefits a lot from niche and industry-specific directories as they offer a good measure of authority for structured local citations.

With effort, you can find plenty of good quality local citation sites to list your business, but there are also some very poor directories. Building citations on such directories can actually hurt your local SEO since they have no credibility with the search engines whatsoever.

Here are some ways that will help you filter your options and pick out the best quality options:

Conduct competitor research

You might be familiar with the term competitive analysis if you’ve ever carried out any form of SEO before. You may have conducted competitor link research in order to figure out what sites they’re building links on to rank higher on search engines. This same procedure can also help you with local citation building.

Here, finding new local citations can be as simple as finding out what sites your competitors are and you’re not. Here too,  BrightLocal’s Citation Tracker can be invaluable, as it can automate the whole process for you and give you the citation report for your competitors to build on.

Integrate Moz's toolbar into Chrome

Moz’s toolbar can help you identify high-quality sites. Whatever site you visit, the toolbar will show you the Domain Authority, Page Authority and Spam score for that site. Look for high authority sites that have low spam scores.

Conduct a Google search

A simple Google search can provide you with a number of high-quality citation sites. What you need to do is perform a search for relevant business types. As a result, Google will show you a number of citation sites on the first page itself. All these sites are generally good quality directories that you should list your business on.

Along with listing your business on platforms like Yelp, try and find industry-specific platforms. Also, look for location-specific directories that are relevant to your business’s location.

Once you’ve covered these two avenues, focus on the web in general. You can build local citations on the websites including blogs, apps, maps, social media, local media, etc.

Utilize resources

The internet is a whole other universe. You’ll find one resource or another who have dug roots deep into their respective field. Local citations are no different. BrightLocal is one of the top experts worldwide when it comes to local citations. It can be immensely valuable to your local citation building procedure.

You can explore their resources and find some of the best quality citation sites to list your business on. They are one of the most trusted sites in the field of local SEO, so you won’t have to worry about the quality with them.

To get you started, explore the top 50 online directories to list your business in, in the USA, UK, Australia and Canada. The sites listed here have the highest domain authority in their respective countries.

Moving on to industry-specific citation sites, here you can explore a list of hundreds of industry-specific citation sites for a bunch of different industries. Again, rest assured, because all of these are checked for quality and they are some of the best that you can get out there.

Step 3: Local citations submission

If you’ve got time on your hands, you can go on and submit your business listing to directories one by one. It is admittedly a dull job to keep on going with, but it’s not that hard.

We’ve already walked over how to find quality websites to submit your business listing on. After you’ve found the relevant sites, the first thing you need to do is search your business name in those directories.

If you find your business there, make sure that all the information showing there is accurate, if it’s not accurate, look for ‘claim this business’ option or something similar and correct the errors. If you can’t find your business, go ahead and create a new listing.

Local citations submission

Even in case you find the listing for your business and all the information is accurate, go ahead and claim the listing. It’s good to have complete control of your listing, for occasions where you want to update or add new information to the listing.

Claiming your listings on these directories verifies you as the business owner and legitimizes the credibility of the business in the eye of search engines.

Different directories and sites have different processes of claiming and verifying a listing. Here, we’ll go through a general approach to give you an idea of what you can expect when claiming your listings.

Where do the pre-existing listings come from?

This is usually a result of data aggregation and user-generated mentions of your business on the web. It’s also possible that an agency that you worked with in the past may have created them for you.

Many directories will ask you to check if your business already exists in their index. It is nothing to be surprised or worried about, even if you didn’t create these listings.

Claiming and verifying listing

Generally, you’ll be asked to enter your business’s name or phone number to check for pre-existing listings in the directory. Once you enter the details, you’ll be shown a listing for your business if one exists in the directory’s index.

The next step is to review the listing and correct the incorrect details. You can also add some missing information if you want to. Also, like we’ve been discussing very often throughout this article, keep the NAP as accurate and as consistent as possible on all the listings.

After filling the details of your business for the listing, the verification process will begin. There are generally three ways in which you can verify and claim your listing.

  1. Submit a verification pin on the portal received immediately on your mobile number via SMS or call.
  2. Receive a postcard containing a verification pin on your business’s address.
  3. Receiving an email with verification link (this might require an email of the same domain as your business’s)

If you choose to verify via a postcard, make sure that you inform whoever is in-charge of receiving the mail to expect a postcard of some sort. They’re basically very minimal, plain and small, and arrive in about a couple of weeks or so.

How long it takes

Generally, you’ll be asked to enter your business’s name or phone number to check for pre-existing listings in the directory. Once you enter the details, you’ll be shown a listing for your business if one exists in the directory’s index.

The next step is to review the listing and correct the incorrect details. You can also add some missing information if you want to. Also, like we’ve been discussing very often throughout this article, keep the NAP as accurate and as consistent as possible on all the listings.

After filling the details of your business for the listing, the verification process will begin. There are generally three ways in which you can verify and claim your listing.

  1. Submit a verification pin on the portal received immediately on your mobile number via SMS or call.
  2. Receive a postcard containing a verification pin on your business’s address.
  3. Receiving an email with verification link (this might require an email of the same domain as your business’s)

If you choose to verify via a postcard, make sure that you inform whoever is in-charge of receiving the mail to expect a postcard of some sort. They’re basically very minimal, plain and small, and arrive in about a couple of weeks or so.

Do’s & Don’ts
  • Do keep a record of all the listings that you submit on the web, the data that you enter/edit in them along with a date of submission. This will keep you informed and help you organize your local citation building strategy.
  • Don’t let any entity claim your business under their account. No matter if they’re the legal advisor of the company or a local SEO agency that you’ve hired, the Google My Business listing should always be under the account of that organization. You can provide its access to whomever you may need to, local SEO agency for example, but never let them claim it.
  • Don’t mix-up claiming with owning. Claiming business listings on directories definitely validates your ownership of the business, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll own that listing. The listing’s owner will always be the directory itself. It’s up to the platform you’re on to decide what should happen to it. They have the complete right to take your listing down should they feel that your listing violates their guidelines.
Step 4: Optimizing local citations

Building local citations can be as simple as spreading consistent and accurate NAP for your business around the web, but that doesn’t have to be it. Optimizing local citations with elaborate details can help with better conversion and lead generation.

Let’s talk about some of the things that you can take care of to optimize local citations:

Business descriptions

You might already be aware of what business descriptions are about. Nevertheless, business descriptions tell search engines and searchers what your business is about.

Business descriptions​

In a sense, they’re responsible for your business’s first-impression online. You want to make sure that you bring your A-game when a potential consumer finds your listing. So, use this section to describe your business as best as you can without overselling it.

Website URL

Including your website’s URL not only helps users to know more about you, it also brings them one step closer to becoming a customer. Suppose a user finds your listing and wants to book an appointment with you. Providing a link to book an appointment on your website would make it convenient for them and ultimately give you a new customer.

Website URL
Business category

Business categories are a measure to help search engines let you know what your business provides and associate relevant search queries with your business.

Business category

Local citation sites like Google My Business let you add primary and secondary categories. Looking up what your competitors have put up in these categories will help you choose the right categories.

Photos

Add photos of your business. Giving a visual of your business helps the consumers build trust for your business. In a way, it gives them confidence by having a visual idea of what they’re getting themselves into. Upload photos of your business’s exterior, interior, an event, etc.

Photos
Reviews

Encourage your customers/clients to drop their review on local citations. It is a known fact that online reviews are one of the ranking factors that Google takes very seriously.

Reviews
Measure how local citations are performing

A lot of time and resources go into building and managing local citations. Keep in mind that it’s a long-term practice. But still, you can’t help but wonder whether you’re making any good progress with it or not. You want to make sure that your investment is paying off and your local SEO is getting the benefits it should.

There are different methods to measure how your local citations are performing. The best method would be to get an automated tool to help you do that. BrightLocal’s Citation Builder is one of the best tools out there for that. So, do check that out if you’re looking for a tool to track local citations performances.

Automated local citation submissions

You can also submit local citations through automated APIs. API means application program interfaces that automates the whole process for you.

Automated local citation submissions have no humans involved in the process. When it comes to APIs, each of them offers a set of networks in which they will create local citations for you.

Within the API solutions, there are two different versions.

In the first version, the APIs provide your business’s information to directories as a type of ‘data layer.’

Your business’s information will be displayed or we can say ‘layered’ over the existing data on the website.

One thing to keep in mind is that these websites won’t do it for free, you’ll have to pay.

So, this one can be regarded as just a temporary solution. Your information will be displayed as long as you keep paying.

In the second version, APIs submit information directly into the database of the directories. You’d expect that this method produces permanent listings, but that’s not the case most often.

The slight problem with these types of APIs is that they rely on continuous data pushes, more like an RSS feed.

That means that when you cancel, your listing will likely come back because there’s not much evidence to confirm the inaccuracy of the information.

We can say that API solutions aren’t for all, but there are some occasions where APIs are not only useful but preferable.

For example, someone like Reliance Digital, who have hundreds of locations, they’re constantly updating their products and services.

In short, businesses that want to focus more on keeping the business information up-to-date than sending trust signals to Google, APIs work wonders for them.

Data aggregator submissions

What does data aggregators mean?

Local data aggregators are companies that collect the data of business and pass it on to other sources. They aggregate businesses’ information and distribute them to the business directories and websites. You’ll get a lot of local citations for your business if you use a local data aggregator.

There must be thousands of online business directories that need to be up-to-date. Data aggregators help these directories keep the information up-to-date.

Do you remember the old-school Yellow Pages? They would gather information about various businesses such as name, address, phone number, etc.

We can think of these aggregators as something similar, but on a larger scale. These aggregators funnel the data it gathers for various uses, to populate business directories, appear on maps or mobile apps, for example.

You can sign up for a data aggregator and use it irrespective of your business industry or type. For that, you have to choose a platform and create an account there. The platform will ask for your business’s information and proceed to verify it.

It’s quite similar to adding a business listing in a directory. Once your information is verified, your business will be listed and fed to all the websites based on the aggregator’s capacity.

Aggregators leverage systems like RSS technology to spread the information of thousands of listings to thousands of sources. This is what makes the data aggregators a great tool to utilize for local citation building. Create an LDA account, submit your business details and that’s it.

You’ll save a bunch of hours it would’ve taken you to submit these listings manually. So, let’s take a second and appreciate the data aggregators.

What local data aggregators to choose?

We went over how data aggregators are super-useful in the local citation building process and how simple and easy it is to use them. So, the question now arises what are these local data aggregators.

Fortunately, there are only a tiny lot of data aggregators in the USA. So, it won’t be that tough of a task to execute.

Foursquare

Foursquare is a major player in mapping solutions. You may have come across it if you’re not new to local citations.

Quite recently, Foursquare made some enhancements with its data offerings, which makes it one of the big-bulls in local data aggregators.

Data Axle

Data Axle, as quoted by themselves, is “the leading provider of business data to the top search engines, navigation systems, mobile apps, marketing information programs, and location-based apps. Our data powers the top search engines, because we provide the most accurate, continually-verified collection of real-time business data available, delivered through powerful technology.”

You can submit your data into Data Axle via local listing submission as well as BulkUpdate engines.

The process is similar to submitting your business listing in a local directory. Simply search for your business on Data Axle and verify that the listing is yours. You can correct the incorrect information or add missing information after verifying the listing. Data Axle verifies your listing via phone verification.

Neustar Localeze

This is a subscription based local data aggregator. Neustar Localeze and its solutions are built around True Identity.

True Identity is a listing management platform that allows you to manage your listing data over 100 search platforms, directories, navigation systems and mobile applications.

But as said before, it requires a subscription. You’ll have to pay an annual fee of $79 to use True Identity for up to 24 locations.

Fix duplicate listings

A while back, we talked about duplicate listings and their disadvantages. So, by now we understand that clearing off the duplicate listings is a crucial step in local citation building strategy.

First of all, you’ll need to identify the duplicates. Once you have the information on duplicates, the next step will be to remove them.

The process of removing a listing varies based on the hosting platform. For example, Google My Business has different processes and requirements compared to what Yelp would ask you to do. Some of the platforms allow you to merge or remove the listing while some will let you suppress the listing.

So, when you come across a duplicate, what you’ll do is log in, claim the listing and edit or delete it. It will be a tedious task for you to find and fix the duplicates if you find a lot of them since you’ll have to execute the whole process manually.

Getting local citation building services

You must have realized by now that local citation building is not at all an easy task to take care of. It requires constant monitoring and continuous effort in order to work properly.

We’ve also talked about how important local citation building is for local SEO, a few times.

If you have the time and resources to keep everything in check and carry forward the strategy, it’s wonderful. If not, it’s the best choice to get citation building services.

A local SEO agency who knows what to do would be the ideal option to go ahead with.

FAQs

Is a physical location necessary to build local citations?

Short answer, no it’s not. Many service-area businesses use their home address as their business address. In cases like that, businesses try to hide the address in the local citations. Yes, some sites allow you to hide your address.

Note that Google strictly prohibits USPC Stores and PO Boxes. Service-area businesses can use a virtual office but, as quoted by Google, the office should be staffed during the business hours.

Can a toll-free number be set as the primary number on GMB and citations?

Even though Google allows it, it is recommended that you use a local phone number with the local area code.

And many citation sites accept a toll-free number as the primary number for the listing, but there are some that don’t.

Chapter 5: Final thoughts

You’re all set. Now you know all you need to know to execute a local citation strategy that will improve your local SEO rankings.

We covered in this article:

  • What local citations are and their types
  • Why they matter so much in local SEO
  • How to build local citations
  • And how to keep track of your progress

With the help of this guide, you should be able to confidently proceed with your local citation building strategy.

If you still find local citations to be complicated or understand them but seems too much work for yourself, that’s what a digital marketing agency is for.

Digital Daisy is one of the best local SEO agencies in Delhi India that serves clients from all over the world.

Contact us.

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