| Apr 7, 2023 | | 12 min read

How to perfect local citation building with Vendasta


Whether you're looking for your closest Italian restaurant for a dinner reservation, the best craft brewery in town, or you just need a good latte to get you through your 3pm slump, you're most likely starting with a search that includes the words “near me” or “in Chicago” (or wherever you call home).

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The search results you get in return most likely contain local citations, and local citation building is key for local businesses to ensure customers can find them, improve their rank in search, and maintain consistent and accurate information online. It sounds like a lot of work, but this article will go through how Vendasta’s suite of tools can make it easy to automate local citation building and management, so your clients can own the local search landscape.

What is a local citation?

A local citation is simply anywhere you can find a local business's name, address, or phone number (NAP) information on a website that doesn't belong to the business. This often means online directories like Google Business Profile, review websites like Yelp, or even on social media platforms like Facebook. Local citations can help with a business' local SEO efforts by boosting visibility so customers can easily find them. The more consistent and accurate local citations a business has, the higher it can potentially rank in local search results.

Consumers use local search every day, whether they’re looking to find a place to eat, shop, get a haircut, or even get directions to a store they’ve visited many times before. It’s crucial that businesses not only show up in these searches, but that their information is up-to-date. These citations are also a key factor in whether businesses are selected in Google’s “Snack Pack” (also known as a local three pack or Google Maps three pack), where three businesses are highlighted next to a map in search results. This kind of visibility is a great way to draw potential customers into your location.

Local citation building should be a key element in any business’s local SEO strategy.

What is local citation building?

Put simply, local citation building involves creating and optimizing your clients' online business listings on websites or platforms like Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook, Instagram, and more. A local citation usually includes relevant NAP information, as well as its website domain and sometimes reviews. To break it down even further, there are two different types of local citations:

Structured citations

Structured citations are used in local citation directories (Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook, etc.). You can submit your clients' business information to these platforms and update it when it changes.

Unstructured citations

Unstructured citations include any time a business is mentioned outside a directory or platform, like in a restaurant review in a newspaper (hopefully they like the bolognese) or a personal blog.

Why does local citation building matter?

Local citation building is a necessary part of any business’s online marketing strategy. Without accurate and consistent local listings, neither search engines nor potential customers will be able to find your clients online or at their brick-and-mortar location. Local citation building improves businesses’ ranking in search engine results and makes it easier for potential customers to find them.

Local SEO

Local citation building is a big contributing factor when it comes to local SEO (search engine optimization). Having consistent and accurate local citations across the web can help businesses increase online visibility and reach potential customers where and when they're looking. The more local citations a business has, the likelier they are to appear in search results when someone's trying to find the best Italian restaurant in Chicago.

Google Local Pack Rankings

It's also one of the biggest factors when it comes to ranking in Google's “Snack Pack”: the three local businesses featured by Google next to a map when you search "Italian restaurant Chicago" because you can't stop thinking about a really great bolognese — or any other local search query.

When it comes to looking for the right local citations for your clients, it's not necessarily a matter of quantity over quality. In fact, relevance plays a big role here. That means making sure you're submitting clients' information to industry or niche-specific platforms or websites. Sticking with the Italian restaurant example, food-related platforms like Yelp or local restaurant directories are especially important for this business.

User experience

When it comes to successful local citation building, it’s essential for businesses to ensure that the information provided in each citation is consistent and accurate is essential. Wrong or outdated details can not only deter potential customers (or send them to an old location, for example), but it can also do damage to the business's online reputation and search ranking. Local citations aren't a set-it-and-forget-it business strategy. You need to monitor and update them frequently — for both search engines and potential customers.

How do I find local citations?

Here are some methods for finding local citations online:

  1. Start with search engines: The first step is to look up your business’s NAP information using search engines like Google and Bing. Take note of where your business already has local citations and where they’re missing.
  2. Search local business directories: Check local online directories to see if your business information is already there and to make sure the information is accurate. Look at platforms like Yelp, Google Business Profile, Yellow Pages, and others.
  3. Use citation tools: Even though local citation building requires ongoing upkeep, it doesn't need to be a chore or take a lot of time and effort.  A good local citation finder software suite enables you to help your clients without adding a ton of extra steps to your workload.
  4. Check competitor citations: See where your competitors are listed and try to get listed on those platforms as well. Not only will this help improve your visibility, it will also make sure people find your business when they’re searching for a competitor. If you want to be the number one bagel shop in town, you need to make sure people are choosing you over your competitors every time.
  5. Check social media platforms: Many social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow businesses to create profiles with NAP information. Make sure you own your business’s listings on these platforms and that you keep it updated whenever anything changes (like your business hours or if you move locations).
  6. Find roundup articles and guides: There are plenty of helpful resources online, such as a list of online business directories to submit local citations to. 
  7. Monitor your citations: Regularly monitor your business's local citations to ensure they are accurate and consistent across all platforms. Not only does it look bad to have inconsistent information, it can confuse potential customers and hurt your search rankings.

Having accurate and consistent local citations is only the beginning when it comes to local citation building. To maximize online visibility and drive more customers to your clients’ businesses, you need to make sure that their listings are consistently accurate and well-optimized. This may sound like a chore, but with Vendasta’s suite of local citation-building tools, creating and managing your clients’ online presence is organized, hassle-free, and easy — a win-win situation for you and your clients.

Vendasta's local citation-building tools

Before you start working on your clients’ local citation-building strategy, it’s a good idea to see where they’re starting from. An SEO audit might sound like a daunting task, but you can easily complete a local SEO audit in just 44 minutes. It’s worth the extra time it takes — you can’t get to where you want to be if you don’t know where you’re starting from.

Once you’re ready to tackle the strategy, it’s time to find the right tools to help you execute. As a company that focuses on solutions for managing local business clients, Vendasta is a leader in local citation-building tools. They offer a range of options for agencies to help businesses build, manage, and improve their online presence.

Simplify local citation building with Vendasta

Vendasta has three versions of their local citation builder software:  With Vendasta’s Listing Builder, you can create perfectly optimized citations for a range of directories and platforms. Listing Distribution builds on this with additional listing platforms you can submit NAP information to, while Listing Sync Pro helps keep your citations up-to-date across all sites. These white-label solutions are completely customized to have your agency’s branding client-facing, while you get access to the powerful tools you need to automate clients’ listing management.

With these tools you can:

  • Improve your clients’ search ranking and ensure they’re found when potential customers are searching
  • Ensure business information is accurate and up-to-date across the web
  • Claim and verify your clients’ local business listings
  • Make changes to multiple listings all from one place (saving hours that manual updating would take)

Listing Builder

Vendasta’s simplified option, Listing Builder offers syncing across Google Business Profile, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It also includes a free landing page, insights for Google Business Profile activity, and the ability to change and update your clients’ information any time from one platform.

Listing Distribution

In addition to the features that come with Listing Builder, Listing Distribution levels up with a dashboard that allows you to submit, update, and monitor clients’ local citations across four data aggregators: Neustar/Localeze, Data Axle, Factual and Foursquare — used by apps like Apple, Bing, Uber, and more. Listing Distribution also includes detailed reporting so you can show clients where their business citations have improved over time.

Listing Sync Pro

Listing Sync Pro offers a single dashboard to take local business listing management even further. It includes protections from third-party changes to your clients’ listings, nearly-instant publication to a list of high-traffic sources, and the ability to suppress duplicate listings. Quickly see incomplete or inaccurate information and update it almost immediately, with an unlimited number of changes.

Wondering which option is the best fit for you and your clients?

How automation works for local citation building

The term “automation” gets used a lot, but what does it really mean in this context? Circling back to the Italian restaurant, let’s say that restaurant is your client. You want to make sure when people search for “best Italian restaurant Chicago,” it’s your client’s table they’ll be dining at later. However, putting in the manual work to build and manage your citations can use up too much of your time and resources—that’s where automation comes in.

With a tool like Vendasta, one dashboard gives you access to all your client’s listings. Need to update their business hours? Only do it once and push it across to all their local citations. Want to work on their local SEO strategy? Reporting tools can help you figure out what’s working and where there’s room to improve.

Other options for local citation building

Vendasta’s local citation building tools are an effective way to build, manage, and monitor your clients’ online presence. Let’s compare manual citation building and other tools such as Whitespark and BrightLocal, so you can find the best option for you and your clients.

Manual citation building

The most low-tech option is doing it manually, rather than using local citation finder tools. It might also seem like the most cost-effective at first glance, but manual local citation building requires a lot of time.

Not only do you need to find every online business directory or local citation platform manually, but you also have to write, update, and continuously check on those listings individually to ensure everything is accurate. If you’re going to choose this option, keep these tips in mind:

  • Decide which directories are worth your time. As mentioned before, relevance matters. It’s not worth your time submitting your clients’ information to every single directory or platform if it’s not relevant to their business. Find the best options in their category and start there.
  • Stay organized. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of what and where you’ve posted. Note all the places you’ve submitted a listing, how recently it was updated, what information you included, etc.
  • Have one source of truth. Create a template with your clients’ NAP, website information, and anything else you might need to make sure you’re entering the same details across the web.
  • Schedule maintenance. Once you’ve submitted your listings, set a time in your calendar for regular updating and monitoring. You can also go further by optimizing listings with keywords (read more here about how to use keywords for Google Business Profile), images, and more.

If that sounds like a lot of time and effort, it is. When it comes to local citation building, automation can save you lots of time and money.

Whitespark vs. BrightLocal vs. Vendasta

Whitespark and BrightLocal offer tools with local citation-building solutions. While both tools provide some sense of reporting, BrightLocal doesn’t differentiate between local search results and organic search performance, which can make it difficult to see where improvements need to be made and where things are working.

BrightLocal also doesn’t offer duplicate listing monitoring, keyword filtering and comparison, and you’ll need to create new reports for every location—this can be a downside for local businesses with multiple locations in different regions.

On the other hand, Whitespark uses a third party for some of their citation work, is more expensive than BrightLocal, has a higher cost for aggregator submissions, does not allow for individual aggregator selection, and doesn’t integrate with social media platforms.

Next steps for local citation building

If you’re ready to dive into local citation building, the good news is you can try Vendasta’s platform with Listing Builder free before you commit. Test drive the services and make sure it’s really the best solution for you and your clients. If you’d like to see how it works without signing up yourself, you can also get a free demo from their team.

Frequently asked questions

What is local citation management?

Local citation management is a local SEO task that involves managing a business's online mentions or citations. These citations contain references to a business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) information on various online directories, such as Yelp, Google Business Profile, and Yellow Pages.

What is the purpose of citation builders?

Local citation builders help automate the process of creating and managing online business listings on various directories, so businesses can improve their online visibility and local search engine rankings. Additionally, local citation builders can help agencies save time and effort while managing multiple locations or complex listings for their clients.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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