What are Local Citations in SEO?

Local citations are an integral part of local SEO and ranking your clients local business in Google’s “Snack Pack” and Google Maps results. Learn how you can get started today using Vendasta’s tools and services to rank now!

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What are Local Citations?

Local citations are online mentions of a local businesses’ contact details. Their name, address, phone number, and website, commonly referred to as NAP or NAPW.

These details are commonly found in local and national directories such as Yellowpages, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and more.

However local citations in SEO do not stop there.

Local citations can be found on other web properties such as a business’s website or business profiles on search engine map applications in the form of Google My Business, Bing Local or Apple’s Map Connect. 


Why are local citations good for SEO?

Simply put, local citations are one of the highest determining factors to the success of a business’s local SEO and their ability to rank competitively in the “snack pack” or Google Maps. Secondly, the accuracy of citation listings will ensure that your potential customers are finding your business at the correct location.

Imagine a prospective client find’s your business on Yelp, shows up at the old business address that was never updated, and leaves you a poor review for wasting their time. So not only do local citations have an impact on your SEO directly but indirectly as well.


How consistent does my NAP or NAPW have to be?

Your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) should be the same on every site. Consistency is important, but don’t worry about minor formatting differences that you’ll see on different sites.

Google is able to understand minor differences such as phone number formatting (ie. (555)-555-5555 vs 555-555-5555) or abbreviations (ie. 123 Fake Street vs 123 Fake St.).

ListingSuite Screen

What are local citations used for in SEO?

The reason businesses would want to acquire as many local citations as possible for SEO is it is one of the highest determining factors for ranking in Google’s “Snack Pack”. The “Snack Pack” is the 3 local results you would see when searching for a local business such as “Toronto portrait photographer.”

An important aspect to keep in mind when acquiring local citations for your business is to focus not only on quantity but also relevance to the business’s industry. So this means submitting listings to directory websites that are local or niche-specific. For example, if you’re a travel company, you’d want to submit to as many travel directories as possible.

Types of local citations

As mentioned earlier, citations can be any mention of a business NAP or NAPW and therefore are categorized into two different types of local citations:

  • Structured Citations
  • Unstructured Citations

Structured citations are local citations that are found in business directory listings. These can be sites such as:

  • Yelp
  • Yellowpages
  • Whitepages
  • Facebook
  • Etc

Unstructured citations are mentions of your business information on sites that are not business directories. For example, this could be information included in a restaurant review article where the author lists the business information, or at the end of a press release in the boilerplate. 

Group 558

What are the components of a local citation?

The core components of a citation are a company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) and can also include the company’s website (NAPW). Additionally , citations may include some or all of the following elements:

  • Business categories
  • Hours of operation
  • Driving directions
  • Business description
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Payment forms accepted
  • Geo-coordinates
  • Reviews
  • Owner responses
  • Tag-lines
  • Links to social and other forms of media
  • Email addresses
  • Fax numbers
  • Alternate phone numbers
  • Attributes

How to check your local citations

There are a number of ways to check for your local citations across the web. 


Manual Local Listing Checks

Using manual checks in Google can be time-consuming, but for a small business that knows it might not have a lot of listings, would be the more economical way to achieve this. Simply searching a combination of your business name and address should surface and listings which are indexed in Google. An example of this would be:

“Phoenix Chinese Restaurant” + “4040 Creditview Rd”

In this example, this restaurant has over 1,000 results which would not be realistic to manually check or take inventory of. A better way to approach managing business listings for this business would be through a tool or service.

Automated Local Listing Checks

With many software solutions to automate local listings, our very own white-label local listing management software allows businesses and agencies to find, monitor, and automatically keep local listings updated with the latest information.

How to build more local citations for a business

Data Aggregators

The easiest way to build more local citations for SEO is by tapping into the power of data aggregators. These aggregators collect and validate business information from various sources such as governments, telecommunications, utility companies, and web research to distribute these business listings data to hundreds of other sites. These primary data sources for business listings are:

  1. InfoGroup
  2. Acxiom
  3. Localeze
  4. Factual

Vendasta’s Listing Distribution tool is exactly this. A local listings management tool that submits your business information to the four primary data aggregators who gather consumer and business data and provide it to high-traffic local listing sources. These aggregators power sophisticated modern applications such as voice search (Apple’s Siri or Amazon Alexa), mobile apps (such as Uber and Snapchat), personal navigation systems, and more.

listing distribution software screenshot

Listing Management Services

Using a listing management service will allow your business to tap into the expertise of industry professionals who know the best sources to submit your business listings. Vendastas’ white-label listing management service is a perfect solution for agencies managing multiple clients’ listings. By submitting local citations to more directories across the web, client’s local rankings will improve over time.


Do it Yourself

Of course, there is always the DIY approach to managing business listings. To find new sources it is best to just search online for lists that have already been curated. A quick search in Google for “business listing websites,” should yield such results. However, you will want to go a bit further than that and submit to hyperlocal and niche directories as well. For example, as a photographer in Toronto, you’d want to search for “photography directories,” “Toronto business directories,” or even down to the neighbourhood “Yorkville business directories.”


Tips for Successfully Creating More Local Citations

  • Keep the name, address, phone number, and website consistent
  • Write unique business descriptions for each listing. While NAPW should be consistent, business descriptions should be unique to each site. This will create a higher likelihood that Google will index many different listings and will avoid any duplicate content issues. Some directories only accept unique content for business descriptions.
  • Choose categorizes wisely. This is most important for the Google My Business profile, as it is a large ranking consideration. Ensure you keep your business categories consistent as well across all directories. For example, if your or your client’s business is a Sushi bar, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by selecting a category of “Restaurant,” having to compete with far more competition in a general category. Most directories will allow for more niche selections of “Sushi Restaurant” or “Sushi Bar.”


Local SEO and citations resources, guides, and whitepapers

Local SEO Audit Checklist

How to Optimize Google My Business for Local SEO

The Top 100 Online Business Directories

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