Most Definitive Guide of 2020: Citations For Local SEO


How do I rank my business in Google Map results?

If you’re asking this question you are in the right place. Today we are looking citations for local SEO. Before you read, I want to tell you this is NOT a cookie cutter post.

I give you the results that work, and I cut through all the BS. I don’t care about small details or technical terms; you are getting what works for the topic of Citations for local SEO.

Now, whether you’re a small business owner or someone with a storefront seeking to expand your practice, you’re in the right place.

Forget link building outreach – never thought I’d say that! – because today, we’re going to discuss the most effective tactic you can use to improve the results of your local SEO efforts.

I’ll clear up some basics for you before we dive into citations and how you can use them to your benefit…

What’s a Citation?

If you’re a complete beginner, a citation is simply a mention of your business on a web page. 

This can take the form of a business name-only mention. You can also register your business address and phone number on various types of website from directories to listing sites.

NAP correlates to a name, address, and phone number listing.

A couple examples…

You might have your business name mentioned in a guest blog post.

Or, you could enter your company details on a business listing site like Yellow Pages or

Search engines like Google collect data about your business and assess whether it’s considered trustworthy. If so, you’ll feature higher up the SERPs even if you don’t have a robust link portfolio. When your site is mentioned on someone else’s page, then, you have a citation.

Citations are pretty useful for companies in non-competitive industries with no website and just a listing. For example, a local plumber in a county with few competing plumbers. Google will use any information available to assess where your site ranks in searches.

The more citations you get out there, the more various search engines will link them together. Considered cumulatively, citations make your business appear more trustworthy and more search-worthy.

You can also get co-citations. Here, more than one website mentions your business as a qualified source of information. Co-citations pack more power with search engines. How can you bag co-citations, then? Well, you need to delight, engage, and inform your audience with stellar content solving one of their problems. Organic is the only way with co-citations. 

OK, So What Are Citation Campaigns?

A citation campaign is a type of marketing campaign focused purely on building citations and co-citations.

This is achieved by getting your company details onto campaign citation sites such as Yellow Pages and

What else can you do beyond these basics, though?

When you plan a citation campaign you should:

  • Build a list of directories where you can add your NAP
  • Plan and execute some online ads within budget
  • Get your business mentioned in some kick-ass blog posts

Citation Campaign Sites

To get noticed on Google and other search engines, your citations need to be locally relevant.

Many citation listing sites cover the whole of the US. Your local listing will appear on one of these sites when someone searches for “vet in Atlanta”, for example. 

Some of the top citation sites in the US include:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Yelp
  • Bing
  • Foursquare
  • Bizjournals
  • Yellow Pages

Different Types of Citations

There are three main types of citations:

  • Structured Citations
  • Unstructured Citations
  • Co-occurring Keywords

Structured Citations

Structured citations are the type you find on citation listing sites such as or It’s crucial to have your business details up-to-date along with some important keywords relevant to your business.

Unstructured Citations 

Unstructured citations are where parts of your business details are included. This could be just your city or business name loosely related in the content. A direct example: your Facebook profile could have your business name and city location but the rest of the details might be found further down the page.

You can spread parts of your NAP across assorted social media channels so when someone Googles your name, they’ll see an assortment of information about you.

Co-Occurrence of Keywords

Co-occurrence of keywords takes place when your business details are peppered amongs content containing keywords pertaining to your business.

Highly relevant keywords frequently placed tightly together across a range of sites can help the search engines to give your business more weight on those all-important SERPs. 

In your business description on Yellow Pages, for example, you should include keywords your potential customers are searching for. Don’t miss an opportunity.

Why are These Things Important? 

Citations are of relevance to search engines for one main reason: they demonstrate that your company is located where it claims to be and does what it claims to do.

When citations across multiple sites present the same positive impression of your business, this excites the search engines and improves your overall online visibility.

Benefits of Citations

Citations are great for many reasons.

I’ll break those down for you right now…

They Improve Your Rankings Locally

Local citations are vital for local SEO. When the search engines see that you are listed locally, they’re reassured that you’re a legitimate business.

Plenty of accurate citations across high-grade listing sites will help to improve your ranking.

You Can Ride On The Success of The Big Listing Sites 

If you’re listed on big listing sites like or, you’ll have a higher chance of exposure. These sites dominate search and also tend to rank highly in local search.

You Can Gain Referral Traffic

Referral traffic describes visitors referred to you from other websites.

Big citation listing sites can redirect traffic to your site. Referral traffic to your site is a good thing (assuming the visitors are relevant).

Possible Negative Impacts of Citations

It is possible to damage your online presence if your citations are not up to scratch. You need to go all-in with citations.

Your website could lose credibility with search engines if your listings are inaccurate or dated. This makes sense because if your details are correct, people will land on your site. This could result in a sale. Conversely, if your listing misdirects someone, that lead is gone for good.

Why It’s Important to Manage Citations

If you don’t manage citations effectively, it could damage the reputation of your business and website. Ultimately, it will cost you money. 

Maybe there are some negative reviews about your website or business that you don’t know about?

If you continuously monitor your online presence, you can improve customer relations by dealing with any negative reviews in a professional and courteous manner. Not responding to reviews, could lose potential customers while also leaving the public with a sour taste of your company.

However, If you don’t keep your business details up-to-date, visitors to your site will lose trust. Keep hours and contact details current. Stay on top of the details. The small things count.

Now, I’ll round out today by collating answers to the most frequently asked questions about citations.


1) What can I do to manage citations?

I’ll bullet this out for you to keep it simple:

  • Take an active approach. Go through all your citations meticulously. Check that every detail is correct across your social media accounts and any citation listing sites. Create an Excel sheet with every listing as a handy checklist
  • Check weekly or fortnightly for any inaccurate information. Update as necessary
  • If you have any duplications of listings, delete them. This looks unprofessional
  • If any major events are happening with your business, let people know. Ensure, too, that all of your citations are updated so everything marries up
  • Things you might want to update in your citations include: any business mergers or acquisitions, change of phone number or address, opening hours, and any re-branding

2) What tools can I use to manage citations?

Rather than use a list in Excel to manually monitor and update your citations, automate the process with software programs like Zotero and EndNote. These programs do all the heavy lifting. They can trawl the web effortlessly for new reviews, inaccurate listings, or competitor citation updates.

3) How many citations do I need?

This depends on your competition. If you’re the only one who makes bespoke wooden teak kitchen countertops in Ohio, you won’t need that many citations. If, on the other hand, you do business in a saturated industry like graphic design, you’ll need more citations to dominate the listings. 

Using a citation manager can help you to monitor bad reviews and developments occurring with the competition so you can act accordingly and keep ahead of the game.

4) What do I do if my business changes address or phone number?

If any aspect of your NAP changes at any time it’s essential to take action immediately to keep your visitors informed. You can do this manually or use automated software.

To do it manually, just update any relevant details on your website. Then, find every reference to your business in all listings. If you have a database of citations, go through each one and change them manually. Find any co-occurring references and update those, too. This could entail logging into listing sites, phoning or emailing companies, and asking them to change details for you. 

If you’ve been mentioned in any online publications or blogs, contact them and ask them to update those details.

You could use an automated service like Moz Local to configure your new details automatically.

Even if you use a service like this, you’ll still need to check things manually. Keep checking for out of date information over time as well. If you move premises, ensure that the previous occupier’s details are removed.

5) Where can I get citations?

First off, Google My Business should be your first port of call. Due to Google’s dominance, you’ll get more bang for your buck ensuring your GMB is on-point.

You should also add accurate and well-written citations to the following sites:

To reiterate: make sure there are no duplications. These don’t go down well. 

Find out the best platforms for your industry. Do your research, create a spreadsheet, and list your business on every relevant platform of weight. 

Get yourself out there with unstructured citations in the form of blog posts, editorial content, social media mentions, or even sponsoring groups. Try to get featured in newspapers, magazines, and social media. This will all help you to build your citation profile.

Again, don’t forget to monitor all mentions using your spreadsheet or a software program. Effective SEO needs you to chart these metrics so you can fine-tune your campaign based on hard data.

It should go unsaid, but your website should always be up-to-date. Utilize your website to generate press releases. This could create some interest and further strengthen your citation campaign.

Ultimately, citations are a long game. Be consistent and focused on your campaign. Be patient. Monitor for new reviews, competitor citations, and any discrepancies on a regular basis.

About Author

Ryan Jackson

SEO and Growth Marketing Expert

I am a growth marketer focusing on search engine optimization, paid social/search/display, and affiliate marketing. For the last five years, I have held jobs or had entrepreneurial ventures in freelance and consulting. I am a firm believer in an intense side hustle outside of 9 to 5’s. I have worked with companies like GoDaddy, Ace Hardware, StatusToday, SmartLabs Inc, and many more.

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