How Do Local Citations Help SEO?


Christine Lee

May 13, 2020


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Directories or listings used to be buzz words for link building in SEO, but Google changed all of that when they devalued directory links. Now the buzz term is “citations.” Every business needs citations, but these are mostly just like the listings you created on Yelp or TripAdvisor. When you create citations the right way, they can improve your ranking for local SEO.

Citations are listings online that reference a business’s information, including Name, Address, and Phone, which is also known as NAP. In local SEO, citations help searchers find a company nearby, which is why it’s so important to update listings with your accurate contact information and other helpful details.

There are many types of “citations” out there, but some are more popular than others. The correct citation also depends on your business category. For example, restaurants may find it more beneficial to have a citation on, than a spa or hotel.

If your business has been around for a few years, you may already have citations created by people checking in to a location on Facebook or Google. This guide provides you with ways to claim, clean up, and optimize your citations for local SEO.

Why Local SEO Citations are Important‍

Your business may not be ranking in the top 3 results because you don’t have any listings on top directories that show up when a user queries a key term in your local area.

Laptop with Yelp, Tripadvisor, Angie's List and Facebook Logo.

Join the Right Directories‍

However, business directories and listings on certain websites are always going to rank highly. For example, Facebook business pages rank highly because so many users look for Facebook in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) to conduct research. Sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Angie’s List will also rank highly for key terms in industry-specific local searches.

Get Referral Traffic‍

Users are also trained to look for specific directories when conducting searches because they trust the information. For example, jet setters looking for posh hotels may only look at TripAdvisor listings. This earns referral traffic for your business quickly.

Prominent Reviews and Ratings‍

Consumers today research to ensure they are spending money wisely and won’t get scammed. When you have several listings with reviews and ratings from happy customers, your brand becomes trustworthy, and it provides social proof that others had a good experience with your company.

Also, more reviews equal more ranking signals to help your business rise in SERPs.

How Do Local Citations Help SEO‍?

There are two primary purposes for local SEO citations:

  1. To reach customers on platforms that they use, so they find accurate and precise details about your company, allowing them to connect to your business.
  2. To rank in Google and other search engines by providing many accurate citations for your business on high-quality platforms around the web, which increases your business’ ability to rank highly in SERPs.

When you build out a citation, you create a professional listing for your business that has all of the data a user needs to find your business. Typically, this includes:

  1. Business name
  2. Address
  3. Phone number
  4. Website
  5. Description
  6. Menu, product listings, services, etc.
  7. Map and directions
  8. Hours
  9. Email address

All of this information makes it easier for a user to find your business. When it comes to local SEO, you should have citations on several online directories. However, you don’t want to add citations to any directories that look fishy, such as websites with lots of pop-ups or foreign languages not related to your area.

Google Business Citation

When your business name pops up within local searches, Google takes note of how much information matches the query for a nearby business. If yours meets the criteria, your business and all of the information available will likely pop up in the top results for the local search.

Where Should You Create Citations for Local SEO‍

There are hundreds of directories, social media networks, listing sites, and industry-specific pages out there.

However, we have identified the top 10 places to add citations for local SEO. These include:

  1. Google My Business
  2. Bing Maps
  3. Facebook
  4. Yelp
  5. TripAdvisor
  6. LinkedIn
  9. Thumbtack
  10. Yellow Pages

One caveat here is that industry-specific citation sources are best. For example, Angie’s List is an excellent place for home service companies, but attorneys who want to capture clients looking for a local lawyer should list on

What Other Citations Can I Build for Local SEO?

Geo-Specific Citations‍

In addition to the examples above, local SEO experts say that you can also list your business on geo-specific sites, such as your city’s Chamber of Commerce page. There may be local business associations, community hubs, or other organizations that allow you to add your business information and create a listing.

Some citations are free, while others make you pay for the citation. It’s only reasonable to pay for these listings if it will benefit your business by sending traffic to your store or website. If you sign up and don’t see any activity within a week, it may not be worth the expense.

Try Unstructured Citations‍

Person holding a tablet, while navigating on a blog website

So, how do local citations help SEO when not in a listing format? An unstructured citation occurs when your business is mentioned on any website, app, or other pages that aren’t specifically a listing format. For example, if your business is mentioned in a press release, news article, social media post, or blog, then you have created an unstructured citation.

It’s crucial to build unstructured citations after you have created your core citations like Google My Business and Facebook, as well as geo and industry-specific listings. You don’t need to go on looking for more listing websites after completing these citations.

Instead, you’ll want to create new content and publish it on guest blogs, groups, or event pages. You can also create social media content and share it across all channels. The goal is to post content regularly on noteworthy platforms and high-ranking blogs to bring in new traffic for your business.

Working with influencers can also create more unstructured citations and social proof for your business.

Don’t Forget to Update Your Website‍

Desktop computer with EMA new redesigned website

The most critical citation of your business information is on your contact and about us pages. You should provide as many details as possible, going beyond just the basics with NAP. This is your chance to provide a Google Map, detailed instructions, customer service numbers, historical information, and product information.

The header and footer of your website are also relevant. If you have made recent changes to your website, you should do a complete audit to find any references to your address and business information. These also must be updated, even when it’s an old blog post from 2004.

Need Local SEO Citation Help? ‍

There are plenty of ways to update your listings, but instead of spending over 300 hours a year to manually update your listings, the easiest way is to do it automatically with Listing Sync software. Give it a try today and see why most businesses have zero problems getting traffic from citations with this software.

Ready to Grow Your Business?