The Ultimate Guide to Local Citations for SEO

Local citations are crucial to get local traffic for your business. While experts have varying opinions on how effective they are, one thing’s for certain.

We can’t write them off completely. There’s still merit to having citations for your business, especially if you’re operating locally.
But what are they exactly? And how can you set one up for your own company?

Table of Contents

What Are Local Citations?

Why Are Local Citations Important?

When Is the Best Time to Get Local Citations?

How Do I Get Local Citations?

Where to Get Local Citations?

Who Can Help You Get Local Citations?


What Are Local Citations?

There’s a good chance that you’ve encountered a local citation while searching for a business online.

Local citations are business listings you find on online directories, contact pages, social media, and forums.

Their goal is to not only help users get in touch with a business but to boost the company’s local SEO and rank better in search engines.

A local citation should include the business name, address, and phone number (NAP). However:

You can also include information like hours of operation, media content (videos or photos), reviews, social media links, and other details that would be useful for potential customers.

Types of Citations

There are two main types of citations.

First, you have structured citations. These are more common and recognizable. You would often find them on business directories and are often user-submitted.

Take this local listing for Coffee MCO on Yelp as an example.


The listing has all the information a customer might need. Not only does it show the name, address, and phone number, but it also has directions, the website, photos, and hours of operation.

Scroll down further and you’ll find customer reviews.

The second type you’ll find online is unstructured citations.

Like structured citations, you’ll find the same kind of information. But, instead of being standalone entries, the information you’re looking for is inserted mid-post.

See this example from Yahoo News. Here, the local citations for Coffee MCO are found within the main content.

Yahoo Local Citations

It’s important to note that a local citation does not need to link back to the business’ website for it to work.

Most businesses would often take control of how their business information is presented online. But there are times when other parties (like reviewers, for example) would take your information from unreliable sources.

This can cause some issues, especially when the information being shared is not accurate.

Why Are Local Citations Important?

There are several reasons why you need to have local citations for your site, not the least of which is consistency.
Your business name, address, and phone number (also referred to as NAP) needs to be the same throughout the internet. This is even truer for a company that shares a similar name with a competitor’s.

The consistency of your information on local search can have a direct impact on sales too. If a user finds your phone number from a site that wrote an incorrect listing, that user will not be able to get in touch with you.

Consistency Means Trustworthy

But there’s more to it than that. Google sees these local citations differently. It uses citations to determine how a site will rank in its search results.

It will aggregate all mentions of your business details, see if they are consistent, and take note of where your details are mentioned. If all mentions are consistent and your mentions come from high-quality sites, it will see your local business as trustworthy.

And trustworthy sites are placed higher in search results.

It is in that way that local citations are seen as valuable for search engine optimization.

Sharing Accurate Details

The more accurate your details are, the better the chances of other people sharing the right information about your business.
We’ve briefly mentioned earlier that some people get their information from third-party sites.

If you do a great job of promoting the correct NAP for your store, then you’d likely stop the spread of misinformation.

A recent study shows that up to 93% of customers are frustrated whenever business details are incorrect in directory listings. You don’t want irate customers to shoot you down before you even get a chance to work with them.

When Is the Best Time to Get Local Citations?

You should have started yesterday.

The sooner you take care of your local citations, the faster you get an advantage over the competition.

Make no mistake. Your direct competitors are fixing their citations as we speak. They understand the importance of having the correct business information on as many directories and review sites as possible.

You need to step up immediately. There’s no time to waste. The gap between you and your rivals will only increase if you don’t do anything.

But, there are things you need to settle before you get started.

  • NAP Details — Your nap needs to be consistent on all sites. So you have to figure out what those details are before you begin. Even tiny details matter. Is your business name “A-J’s Barbeque” or is it “AJ’s BBQ”? Is your address “1234 Penny Ave.” or is it “1234 Penny Avenue”?
  • Business Category — You also need to know what your business category is. Some sites will let you specify a category. It would be best if you could keep it consistent throughout.
  • Images and Videos — The quality of the media you add may not have a direct impact on search engine rankings. But for potential customers? It’s a different story. Make sure the images and videos you add look professional.
  • Business Verification — Before you submit to directories, it’s better if you claim your business on Google My Business, Apple Maps, Bing, and other similar services. This would make it easier for directories to approve your listing. It also raises your presence and authority online.
  • Incorrect Mentions — If you have the time, create a list of sites that show incorrect details about your company. That way, you know who to contact when it’s time to roll out your citation cleanup.

How Do I Get Local Citations for My Business?

There are a few different ways that a business owner can get local citations.

Manual Citations

If you want to take a proactive approach, you can build citations manually. By doing it this way, you have better control over what information gets to the public. You also have some say on what sites get to hold your information.

While this is the best way to build local citations online, this method does have its downsides. For starters, this is a time-consuming process. And you will need to allocate resources to meet your goal.

At the very least, you’ll need one person to go through all business directories and verify your business details.

Automated Citations

An automated citation lets you use software to build out your local citations. Or more recently, it makes use of freelancers to build citations on your behalf.

On sites like Fiverr, you’ll find many freelancers who could build citations for a small fee.

Local Citations Guide for Business Owners

When you outsource citation tasks to other people, you get more time to do other tasks.

However, there’s the risk that the person you hire will accidentally upload the wrong information. It’s also possible that your NAP is submitted to sites that have nothing to do with your niche.

So if you do decide to go this route, make sure that the person you’re working with understands what you need to happen. And make sure that your NAP is only given to the sites that matter.

Data Aggregator Sites

Your last option is to submit to data aggregator sites. Here you pay companies who make it their business to collect all relevant information about your company and submit it to their partner directories.

The best part about this method is that you can be sure that you’re getting accurate listings in half the time.

But if you do it this way, prepare to pay hefty fees. It’s not the ideal solution for companies who are just starting out.

There are four prominent data aggregators in the local citation space. These are Neustar Localeze, Factual, Infogroup, and Acxiom.

Where to Get Local Citations

As mentioned earlier, where you post your citations is just as important as what you post.

There’s a good reason for this.

Some SEOs use shady tactics to get their local citations to be more prominent on search engines. This includes posting citations on low-quality sites.

Underhanded tactics like this are referred to as black hat strategies — and these are frowned upon in the SEO community.

So what Google does is look at where a listing is placed. If your business NAP is added to unreliable, spammy sites, then it would
cast your business in a negative light.

You need to be careful with where you place your local citations.

The best places to add your NAP would be on:

  • Reliable Business Directories — Think of sites like Yelp and the Yellow Pages.
  • Niche-Specific Domains — If you’re running a pet store, then it would make sense that you appear on pet sites.
  • Region-Related Sites — If you have a business in Oregon, then being featured in a site dedicated to all things Oregon is to be expected.
  • Media Outlets — It would be awesome to get a citation from news outlets. Local paper mentions are fantastic opportunities especially when it comes to local citations.
  • Data Aggregators — Again, you can submit your NAP details to local aggregators so they can take care of your listings on your behalf.

Each citation site you visit would have its own set of rules. If you want to be listed, you need to pay close attention.
Yelp, for example, have guidelines that business owners need to follow if they want their store to be listed on the site.

Yelp Local Citations Guide

Also, keep in mind that some sites would require verification to continue.

Google My Business allows users to register their companies for free. But they do have a strict verification process to make sure that you are indeed the owner of the business.

It’s a necessary step to prevent fraud. This also stops competitors from impersonating you and messing with your business.

50+ Best Websites to Get Local Citations From (DR 100) (DR 97) (DR 94) (DR 93) (DR 93) (DR 90) (DR 86) (DR 85) (DR 85) (DR 81) (DR 81) (DR 81) (DR 79) (DR 79) (DR 78) (DR 77) (DR 75) (DR 73) (DR 73) (DR 72) (DR 72) (DR 71) (DR 71) (DR 70) (DR 70) (DR 70) (DR 70) (DR 70) (DR 70) (DR 68) (DR 67) (DR 66) (DR 65) (DR 64) (DR 64) (DR 64) (DR 60) (DR 59) (DR 58) (DR 55) (DR 55) (DR 53) (DR 47) (DR 45) (DR 43) (DR 42) (DR 35) (DR 26) (DR 20) (DR 16) (DR 14)

Who Can Help You Get Local Citations?

You are the best person to build your local citations. After all, who’d know your business better than you, right?

But it is a daunting task. And you’re likely going to need some help. This is even truer for business owners who are building local citations for the first time.

Again, you can look for freelancers for assistance. Just be sure to explain the task clearly. They will rely on your instructions. And if something’s unclear, you’d likely fail to accomplish your goals.

That said, there are freelancers who have tons of experience working on citations. And you may even end up learning from their experience.

If you prefer working with a company instead of one person, you can read our Local SEO service.

Other companies that also do a great job with local citations include BrightLocal and Whitespark.

While they are paid services, some offer a free trial so you could explore and see if this approach is the ideal solution for your business.

If you’re looking for local mentions within the community, you may want to consider partnering or sponsoring local events around your place of business. This would open the doors for press coverage and exposure.

This way, you give local journalists a reason to write about your business online.

You also have control over the details you put on your social media. Make sure what details you have on your social profiles are correct.


Let’s be honest — building up your local citations is a menial job. You could probably think of a number of tasks that are a much better use of your time off the top of your head.

But it has to be done.

You need it to get a better foothold on search engines. Your customers also rely on accurate information to get in touch with you.
So if not you, then you need to find someone who can help you correct your name, address, and phone number along with other relevant business details.

If you don’t do it now, your competition will have the upper hand.