Local citations and directories are one of the essential foundations of an excellent local SEO strategy. It's a type of online mention that doesn't just give your ranking an extra boost, but puts your business in front of your target customers as well.
Today, we'll talk about what local citations and directories are and their impact on SEO. We'll also talk about structured citations, unstructured citations, and which types of citations are most valuable.
Also, I added a few tips on how to do citation research, so don't forget to check them out.
Buckle up because here we go!
According to David Mihm,
A citation is any page that is listed under the “Web Pages” tab inside a Local Business Listing.
That definition was created in 2008, which is pretty far back in terms of SEO history.
Here’s my little spin on this term:
A local citation is any mention of your company on the internet that includes its name, phone number, address, and website. It can contain all of them or just one of them.
A complete local citation is called a NAP, which is the phone number, address, and company name. It does not need to link anywhere.
But how do citations affect search engine optimization? Let's find out next!
According to Moz, local citations make up 10.82% of local pack or finder ranking factors and 8.41% of localized organic ranking factors.
These citations help search engines verify that your business exists, through the presence of your NAP info.
With every mention, your business gets credit. The more times your business is mentioned on the web, the more prominent it will be.
If multiple credible sources share the same information, it confirms legitimacy. It is the reason why it’s ESSENTIAL that your citations be consistent.
Now, there are two main types of citations - structured and unstructured. Find out more about them in the next section.
A structured citation exists on a business listing directory such as Yelp, the Yellowpages, or Facebook. You can almost always submit your business here and obtain a citation on your own.
Structured citations can be seen on websites like:
Here’s a structured citation sample for a restaurant in Denver Colorado on Yelp:
Unstructured citations appear on sites that are not directories such as magazines, newspapers, blogs, and wikis.
Here’s an unstructured citation for a restaurant called Barbed Wire Reef reviewed by The Denver Post:
Some citations are worth more than others (for instance, FBI.gov is worth more than craigslist.com). The most valuable are primary data sources such as:
These citations aggregate data and fact check it against several sources.
The second most valuable are sites that are prominently used on Google by people looking for businesses on both a national level and hyperlocal levels such as Yelp, Facebook, and GrandRapids.com.
Lesser known sites with a little prominence on google are also valuable (Yellowbook, Merchant Circle, and Hot Frog)
Now that you know what the most valuable citations are, I highlighted a few easy tips on how to do citation research:
InfoGroup, Axiom, Localeze, and Factual are the most valuable citation providers because if you submit to any of them, your business information will get spread to many other websites.
Many make the mistake of submitting a citation where one already exists. Don’t get too excited. I suggest checking the citation site multiple times before submitting a citation.
Consistency is vital in getting your citation approved, especially by an authority site. Make sure that your current citations, which include your business category, are consistent across the internet.
Whitespark's Local Citations and Directories Finder is one of the best local citation finder tools out there.
In this tool, enter your location, your business name, and the key phrase that you want it to research for you.
Whitespark's tool will give you a list of citation hubs so you could do the following:
Google can tell you the most important citations for your business. Search for your business using NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) in Google and then analyze the results.
The results are what Google assumes are the most important citations for you.
One last quick tip. To make this entire process much easier use a service like Advice Local or BrightLocal to run a directory report, submit new listings, and clean up inaccuracies.
And that’s a wrap!
Those are my simple tips on how to manage your local citations and directories properly.
If you'd like to dig a little deeper into this topic, check out the resources below.
Online Business Directories: How to Use Citations to Build a Successful Local SEO Strategy
The Ultimate List: 57 Online Local Business Directories
So what do you think about this article? Did you learn more about local citations and directories? Did I miss anything?
Sound off below, and let’s discuss.
Also, it would be a great honor if you think this article is worth SHARING.
Header image courtesy of Stockunlimited.
Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Marketing. At Rialto Marketing, we help local service-based businesses eliminate the confusion of marketing. As a marketing partner, we help clients put in place and manage a simple marketing plan so they can grow. Marketing your business shouldn't be a challenge. We can help.