Local SEO: Citations Guide (Beginner Friendly)

Last Updated: August 3, 2020

A key component of local rankings are attributed to Local Citations or Citation Building. This is because they contribute a considerable amount to Google’s Local Rankings Factors (approximately 10%).

In this Local Citations SEO Guide, I’ll cover:

What Are Local Citations?

A local citation is an online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. This is also known as “NAP” info, which helps users find local businesses, and also impacts Local SEO Rankings. Local citations may be built and managed by business owners or SEOs to improve search engine visibility and accuracy of NAP data.

The Different Types of Local Citations

Local Citations can be categorized as follows:

  • Local Business Listings
  • Data Aggregators
  • Niche Listings
  • General Listings

Local Business Listings

If you’re just starting out, Local Business Listings are what you’ll want to prioritize.

This is because they’re the most impactful.

Pro Tip:

Before jumping in, it’s important to know what citation already exist. For this, I recommend using Moz Local – it’s free, and provides good insights about what the next steps might be.

Below, you’ll find listings that are the most important for local rankings, and where to get started on building them:

Each of these listings are free…

And should be kept that way ( don’t pay for Yelp 🙂 )

Here’s why each of them are SUPER important

Google My Business Listings

This is the one listing that rules them all…

This is because of Google’s Local Pack results.

An Example of Google's Local Pack Results for the keyword, "denver colorado dentist"

Ranking in Local 3-Pack can generate TONs of leads or in-store traffic for local business.

You’ll also get a nice little dashboard to report activity like calls and website visits.

Without a Google My Business Listings, you’re chances of ranking in Local Pack are 0.

This is also how customers discover and find businesses in Google Maps…

An example of Google Maps listings in the App's search results.

For those requesting directions or using voice search, data is going to be sourced from Maps.

Bing Places Listings

Although it’s not the #1 search engine, it’s still comes in second…

And they also have a similar version of Local Pack, which can be a source of traffic and business.

An Example of Bing's Local results for the keyword, "denver colorado dentist"

Apple Maps

For those with iPhones, Apple Maps is pre-installed.

This makes it a highly used App for those who request directions and use it to find local businesses.

Yelp

Probably, the most highly criticized (If you know, you know)…

But having a free Yelp listing is still beneficial.

For example, their reviews are sourced to Apple Maps…

An Example of Apple Maps sourcing reviews from Yelp.

This is because it’s still a frequently used search engine.

Facebook Business Page

A very worthy mention here is a Facebook Business Page, which serves also serves structured NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) information.

An example of structured location data on a Facebook Business Page.

Facebook Reviews and Engagement also contribute to Local SEO Rankings, and their reviews can also be featured on GMB Listings…

An example of Google displaying Facebook Business Page Reviews on a Google My Business Listing

It’s also common for Facebook users to ask for Recommendations, which can be a free and User-Generated source of referrals for local business…

Pro Tip:

Having an optimized Facebook Page that’s optimized, well-branded, and back by a content strategy can be a great source of website traffic. This Facebook SEO Guide provides everything needed to create, optimize, and start developing a social media strategy.

Data Aggregators

Data Aggregators distribute and source NAP information to local directories.

This 4 Main aggregators include:

  • Infogroup
  • Neustar Localeze
  • Factual
  • Foursquare

Leveraging data aggregators to build local citations is like putting things on autopilot.

Niche Listings.

There are tons of industry-specific (niche) listings out there.

An example of a niche listing, Superlawyers.com

It’s extremely common to see these for attorneys and dentists.

General Listings

General Local Business listings are those that are well…general.

These can also be a good source of backlinks.

For example, getting listed on the local Chamber of Commerce would be a citation to have because it includes a backlink.

An example of a business listing on a local Chamber of Commerce business directory.

How To Build Local Citations

Local citations can either be structured…

An example of structured location data on a Facebook Business Page.

Or unstructured…

A example of an unstructured local citation.

This simply means that NAP data is present, often with a “structured” format as opposed to “unstructured” with casual links.

I always recommend manually building the most important Local Citations.

When automating or outsourcing local citations, important fields or optimizations can be overlooked.

Pro Tip:

It’s important to optimize Local Citations, which means maximizing SEO for each listing to appear in search. This is especially important for Google My Business, and you can find a complete Google My Business SEO Guide to ensure rankings in Local Pack.

Once high priority citations are built, I recommend outsourcing or automating the rest to save a TON of time…

How To Automate Citation Building & Reporting

BrightLocal is a Local SEO software that makes citation building super easy with an all-in-one dashboard…

Plus, they offer a Free 14-day Trial.

Within their citation tracking dashboard, it’s easy to view NAP Errors…

BrightLocal's Citation Tracker Dashboard

And it’s also easy to fix them and build new citations…

BrightLocal's Citation Building Dashboard.

It’s also possible to track rankings and the progress of Local SEO Campaigns…

BrightLocal's Keyword Rankings Dashboard.

While having 100s of citations for a single location is rarely necessary…

It depends on the level of local competition.

There are tons of other factors that affect Local SEO more than additional citations.

Within the Dashboard, there’s also a Local SEO Audit that provides actionable insights after the first 25-50 citations have been built.

Using these insights, it’s to determine the next steps for you Local SEO Campaign…

Happy SEO-ing 🙂