One of the main ranking factors of local SEO is citations. These are mentions of your business name, address, as well phone number (known as NAP).
What Google does is that it looks at your NAP details as a sign of relevancy and proof that you’re a local business. It also confirms to them that your business is really located at the address listed in your Google My Business listing.
Why citations matter
Citations play an important role in local SEO since you’ll need them in order to appear on local search results. And the key to that is building citations and managing them for a powerful local SEO process.
Google’s main goal is to always return the most relevant local businesses for every local query. Sites are shown based on distance, relevance, and prominence—and citations play a key part in that.
Citations help Google verify that your business is located at the address stated on your website.
When Google crawls the web and sees other reputable sites listing the same details of your NAP. This cements your status as a legitimate local business in Google’s eyes. That increased trust means you’ll likely appear more frequently in local search results.
And as more of your business’s NAP info is listed on other relevant and reputable sites, Google will equate these listings as a sign that your business is prominent and popular leading to increased local rankings.
Types of Citations
Before going ahead to build your citations, it’s worth knowing the different types of citations you can pursue.
A structured citation lists the typical NAP of a business in sites such as directory listings and social media profiles. These sites display business info in the same structure for different businesses which is what makes it structured.
An unstructured citation pertains to the mention of your business. This usually happens in blog posts, press mentions, or forum posts.
Which citations do you need?
There’s really no exact list of must-have citations since that will largely depend on what industry or city you’re business is in. This is because most cities and industries usually have their own top citation websites.
Some good examples are your local chamber of commerce, any reputable online directories for your industry, and yellow pages sites.
You can also post-citation on more general sites like Yelp, Facebook, Google, and Foursquare are great free opportunities to list citations for your business. However, you’ll need to conduct some research in order to determine what sites to list that will be most visible to your target market.
If you don’t know where to start, you can use a local citation finder such as Whitespark or Yext, to name a few.
Another way is to perform a Google search for your city or location along with your industry. Take note of the first three results and listing your citations in those sites will likely be advantageous for your business.
Top 3 Tools to Get Local Citation Opportunities
The good thing about building citations for your website is that you don’t have to do everything manually. You can also use tools or apps that will help you source opportunities to list your citations or outsource the management of your citations.
Whitespark is one of the tools or apps that act as a complete local SEO resource. But more than that, it also has a big focus on local citations. In fact, it has two tools that help manage your citations. For example, they typically list the top primary citation sources in most countries.
Its local citation finder tool will also help you find new citation opportunities based on location, target keyword, or competitor comparisons.
Moreover, they have a rank tracker tool you can use to help you see the status of how your citation-building campaign has an effect on your local rankings. Aside from citation building, they also offer audit and cleanup services for which you pay a subscription fee so they can manage your citations for you.
Yext is quite similar to Whitespark in that it helps you manage most, if not all, aspects of your local SEO. You can choose from what products or services they offer that will serve what your business needs.
For local citations, their Yext Listings tool is pretty handy. Just choose the country your business is located in and then identify the type of citation listings you want to pursue.
For instance, you can pick listings depending on the industry or citation type like data aggregators, directories, and search engines.
Whenever you update the filters for your search, Yext will show you a list of top sources to build your citations in.
However, do note that it’s important to still perform due diligence to make sure that each one really fulfills your requirements.
Another option you can choose if all of the above is too much work for you is to subscribe to their local citation management service.
BrightLocal is pretty similar to the above two. It’s a complete local SEO platform that goes beyond just offering local citations so you can build your local SEO campaign the way you want it. Just select from their list of citation sources and data aggregators so you can find opportunities to send your business information.
Although all of their offerings are paid, they do have a tool that you can manage yourself and it costs $2 per single website submission.
You can also choose from more than 1,600 sites for citations, though not all of these will be relevant to your location or industry.
If you choose to manage your submissions yourself, it will enable you to slowly update and build your citations over time for a manageable budget rather than having to spend a big amount at one time.
How to get your citations listed
If you have a new business and need to get the word out through various means such as citation sites, there are three ways you can utilize when it comes to citation opportunities:
- Manual submission: You or a person from your team submits the data of your business to different sites one by one. This is a time-consuming process but it ensures that your info is accurate on every site.
- Outsource manual submission to others: There are numerous services available out there that can manage your manual submissions for you. If you know you don’t have the time, will, or patience to submit your citations yourself then you can always pay a service to accomplish it for you.
- Aggregator submission: Services like Whitespark, Yext, or BrightLocal are examples of aggregator submission sites. They submit your NAP data to the data aggregators, which will then forward it to be published to hundreds of other sites.
Building Citations Successfully: Consistency is key
Since citations serve as the foundation for your local SEO profile, it’s vital to ensure that they’re accurate and correct.
Your business should always be spelled correctly and shouldn’t include any additional keywords.
Your physical address, as well as phone number, should be the same across all sites too. Incomplete, wrong, or duplicate NAP info in different citation sites can serve as a red flag for Google.