Local Citations: What They Are & How They Help With SEO

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    local citations in search

    To begin understanding local citations you have to understand the most powerful one of all. Your Google Business Profile listing on Google Maps. It’s the perfect showcase of a great local citation.

    Google Maps is the most popular navigation app in the world. There are 5.3 million websites using Google Maps data right now.

    It’s also the citation you need to base all of your other citations on. Quality Google Maps citations will help you beat out your competitors.

    But, we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Let’s review the breakdown on local citations- what they are and why you need them for SEO.

    What’s A Citation?

    In college, citations were the list of sources at the end of a term paper. They were where you got your information from.

    In the current online landscape, a citation is the listing for a business. The older generation had yellow pages and paper directories. The modern world has SEO citations to help customers locate your business.

    The definition of a scholarly citation is, “(A) complete reference to a particular quote or source cited as an authority, it includes the author’s name, publication’s title, date of publication, and other information (such as publisher’s name and address) helpful in locating the publication.”

    Just as a citation in a scientific study is helpful in locating which publication the author used, local citations help customers in your local area find your business rather than a publication.

    But, We are Talking About Citations Online, What Makes Them Different?

    Local citations in digital marketing are any instance of your business’s name, phone number, address, website, or any combination thereof anywhere on the internet.

    In addition to your Google Maps citation, you can list your business in hundreds of online business directories. Your Facebook page, Instagram, and other social media accounts also count as citations.

    The more accurate citations your business has on the web the better. Why? Because it helps your SEO and here’s how.

    How Do Citations Help My SEO Campaign?

    SEO is the powerful combination of content marketing, backlink strategy, and on-page optimization to get your website found by the people you want to find it. So, how do local citations fit into that picture?

    Every time your business name, phone number, address, and/or website gets a mention online you get a backlink. If it’s a business directory it’s a super good backlink. It adds validity that you’re a business in good standing in your niche.

    Now, when your business is in hundreds of directory listings that’s even better. All those quality backlinks are building authority and trust in your brand. This is the magic Google formula to boost rankings in search.

    Social media profiles also count as citations. So, the more accounts you have the better. But, how do you figure out what citations you already have and if they are accurate? Keep reading to find out.

    How to Find Your Google Map Citations and Other Mentions

    Unfortunately, you can’t just Google “my citations” and have all your mentions come up. However, there are many tools to help you access your citations.

    An SEO professional is going to have access to an entire toolbelt of services to help locate your citations. They can also fix any errors that appear in your citations list.

    You can do it on your own but it gets pretty technical and heady. Our favorite tools for accessing your local citations are WhiteSpark, GeoRanker, and BrightLocal.

    These are good tools that will give you powerful insights into your local citations profile.

    They can also help you correct errors you find. Remember, every citation needs to be identical. All of them need to match your Google Business Profile listing citation. This is the best way to get the most juice from these citations.

    But, let us warn you this is a time-consuming process. Especially if you’re talking about correcting errors. For this type of work, it is 100% worth it to outsource the task.

    Does Citation Building Work?

    In short, yes. But, only if it’s done right.

    The Google algorithm is getting smarter every day. You need to avoid spammy looking citation building. What does that mean?

    It looks suspicious if your business didn’t exist online on Thursday but on Monday it’s in 500 different local business directories and has 45 different social media profiles that all have reviews and posts.

    You need to drip out your efforts over the course of a few months to make the buildup look natural.

    Dripping is doing submissions one or two at a time every day. This makes the additional buzz look more natural and won’t get it flagged as spammy.

    Get Your Business Noticed By Search Engines Through Local Citations

    Remember that while local citations are important they are only one aspect of your overall SEO profile. It’s the combination of quality content, link building, citation building, and on-page optimization that gets the results.

    Also, once you start doing this work you need to keep it up. The worst thing you can do is stop an SEO campaign cold turkey. All of these ingredients boost one another up and if you just stop your rankings can tank.

    Need some advice on how to do citation building right? Ready to start tackling this digital marketing beast but don’t know where to start?

    Let our professional team of digital marketers help showcase your business in the search landscape. Let us help you get this right the first time and earn you the authority and brand presence you deserve.

    Read more about us and our unique approach to digital marketing. We want to help you get found.

    About The Author:

    Chris Kirksey

    Chris Kirksey

    Chris Kirksey is the CEO of, a Local SEO software & SEO services company reflecting the culmination of a 15+ year obsession with digital marketing. It all started with an eBay business at 9 years old, then transitioning from domain investing and website building. After a 6-year US Army career leading intelligence collection teams both in the US and overseas, Chris now brings a sophisticated approach from cryptologic language and adversary data intelligence to digital marketing and business intelligence. His precision and planning of military campaigns, now reflected in SEO campaigns, have proven successful for clients in industries ranging from law firms to technology startups.
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