Citations & Local SEO: The Definitive Guide (2020)

Citations hold great value in the efficiency of local SEO. They are the part and parcel of the strategies of local SEO because of the excellent results they show in improving the local rankings.

Therefore, we created this definitive guide to help you understand all the dimensions of citations and how they affect local SEO.

What Are Citations?

If you are in the local SEO business, you must be acquainted with the understanding of the use of citations. Anyways, we will still help you understand everything from scratch so that you can develop clear concepts, or fix misconceptions if you have any!

Citation of a business is its online mention that includes its name, address, and phone number (NAP).

The minimal information which is required for business citation is NAP. However, many websites provide the opportunity to add a lot more than just a NAP.

When an SEO person talks about business citations, he/she refers to a group of business listings done on various websites.

Types Of Citations

There are many different types of citations that are argued upon among SEO experts. Nevertheless, here we will state the agreed-upon citations among the SEO experts’ community.

The essential citations for local SEO are:

• Google My Business
• Bing Maps
• Facebook
• Yelp
• Citylocal Pro

There are uncountable citations available online on which you can enlist your business. But not every citation would be relevant to your business. And relevancy is a very critical factor in order to be more authentic for the search engine algorithms. That is why you should pay great attention to stay very relevant in choosing the citation category and website.

Importance Of Citations In SEO

Let’s come to the crux of the matter. Why there is such a big deal about citations in SEO?

Improved Local Rankings

Your local SEO can be greatly affected by citations. The quality and quantity of your citations greatly determine your credibility in the eyes of the search engine.

When your business is listed on trusted business directories, Google considers you credible enough to be ranked on the top. If you are enlisted accurately on many trusted business directories, the search engine becomes very certain about the authenticity of your business.

Therefore, make sure that your business citations exist in abundance, have the accuracy, and are represented by a trusted platform.

Referral Traffic

Enlisting your business on a well-reputed website will help you get a lot of referral traffic. Many people trust certain websites like Yelp or Facebook, and also the references given by those websites. So, if they find about your business on such a website, they will surely visit your page!

Get your business listed on as much trusted websites as possible in order to get as much referral traffic as possible.

Using An Already Ranked Website To Be On Page One Results

If you cannot compete with giants and win, you can join their team and win!

The reputed directories that already rank on page one results can help you in appearing on the page one results by being on their team. So, the next time when such a website ranks high on page one, your business will also be accompanying it.

Choosing The Right Citations

We know the quantity of citations plays a role in local SEO of your business. However, quantity is still not everything. Choosing the right citations is a matter of cruciality.

We have already mentioned the must-have citations, i.e., Google My Business, Bing Maps, Facebook, and Yelp, etc. But the perplexity arises when you have to choose other citations where the decision is in your hands.

These are some of the tips on which you can count if you want citations to benefit you.

• Choosing The Most Trusted Options
• Choosing The Most Relevant Directories
• Picking The Niche Specific Directories

Tools For Citation Management- Factors To Consider

Citation management can be challenging. That is why there are tools present for citation management which you can choose to increase your efficiency. They are varied on the basis of their prices, characteristics, and functionalities. So, picking the best one among them becomes a baffling decision sometimes.

So here are some factors which you should consider while making the choice of citation management tools.

Citation Variety

How does the tool select the directories? Does it show industry-specific directories or not? Does it pick the directories itself or allow you to choose?

How it Sets Up The Citation

Does your tool aggregators or it has direct API to the directories?

Offering Duplicate Suppression

Is it easy to find & suppress duplicates with the help of the tool? How much accurate is it in finding the duplicates?


What are the tracking features of the tool? Is it accurate? Is it efficient in tracking as compared to other tools present?


Is the price of the tool reasonable? How much does it differ from the other tools present in the market?

How To Optimize Citations?

So, now the real deal comes! You should not only cite your business online but you should know all the tips and tricks involved in the process in order to optimize the citations to get the most out of them.

Keep these factors in mind if you really want citations to benefit your business.

NAP Consistency

NAP consistency is going to determine your trustworthiness in front of the search engine. Make sure that your state accurate and consistent name, address, and phone number on each listing. Studies show that NAP consistency plays a pivotal role in affecting local SEO positively.

Business Descriptions

When you are writing your business description, you can add your keywords in them to make them more SEO-friendly. So, be thoughtful while writing your business description. Try to be relevant, informative, and SEO-friendly. Your business descriptions hold the potential and space to make you conversant with search engine algorithms.

Business Category

When you are citing your business on a niche-focused directory, be as focused as you can. Narrow down as much as possible and choose the most relevant category you can put yourself in.


Images are another excellent way to optimize your citation. Images would not only look user-friendly and attractive but they can also help you rank in image searches. You can also edit alt texts and image names (if the directory allows) to be more SEO-friendly.

Website Link

Business links their homepage in the citation. But you can play clever here and make your potential customer comfortable. After you have caught the attention of the customer and persuaded him enough to come to your website, he/she will want to see your address now. So, it is wise to link your location page here. It will help customers as well as search engines to easily identify you.


We all tend to search for product and services reviews before paying for them. Not only users get benefitted from the reviews, but search engines also give importance to reviews. So, get your business some constructive reviews in order to be more reliable for users and search engines.

Tracking Citation Statuses And Performance

After creating plenty of citations, your work does not end. There is no need for unmanaged citations online because they can produce a negative boomerang effect. For example, if you lose track of your citations, you would not be able to update all of them if some change happens. And if you have the track of half of the citations and you update them, then you will lose NAP consistency.

Moreover, even if you do not have to update anything, you still need to keep on visiting the citations in order to have a check on their performances and solve any query if arises.

If the citation management tool you are using does not offer the option to track citation statuses and their performances, you should move to 3rd party tools to have a complete grip on them. Tools like Little Warden & Screaming Frog have a great fanbase on the basis of their prices, characteristics, and functionalities.

Use these tools (and many others) to keep your citations alive and performing! Do not lose their track otherwise, they can start affecting your online presence negatively. For example, unanswered queries of the customers, inconsistent NAP, and outdated information, etc. can be really dangerous for your online credibility.

Hence, these are some quintessential twists and turns of citations and their relationship with local SEO. After understanding them deeply, you can develop or amend your SEO strategies according to them. So, go ahead and use your wits to top the search results in no time!


Why is local search important?

Ans. Local search marketing is also known as local SEO. It helps local businesses to represent their services and products on the digital platform and reach potential customers easily. Local search helps customers to find the information they are looking for.

Moreover, even if a business does not have a website, then local SEO helps it to stand out from the local searches and get more traffic via online leads.

What is a citation SEO?

Ans. Citation SEO is an online reference to a business. It consists of the business name, address, and phone number aka NAP. In SEO, the citations stand for a group of business listings on multiple sites. Citations play a very vital role in improving the ranking of the local businesses, help them reach the targeted audience, and generate traffic through online leads.

What is a citation link building?

Ans. A business citation comprises the business name, address, and phone number (NAP) without any kind of hyperlink. However, sites allow businesses to mention the link of the website on the citation too, that becomes the backlink to the main site of the business.

This is called a citation link building. Getting backlinks from a reputed site proves very beneficial for the business and builds a positive impression too. It helps to use a backlink checker to keep track of all your links and citations.

What is the local search strategy?

Ans. A local search strategy is a form of SEO (search engine optimization) that helps local businesses to stand out the local searches. It is also known as “local search marketing”. This strategy is very helpful for the customers to find relevant business, services, and products conveniently. Also, it helps businesses to show visibility on the local search maps.

Who needs local SEO?

Ans. Local SEO is very useful for small businesses. If your business isn’t showing up in local searches, then you are missing out 80% of the opportunity to reach your potential customers. Because 4 out of 5 customers use local search to find a local service or product. So, Local SEO is an essential need for small businesses to stay pertinent.

What is a Google map citation?

Ans. Google Map citation refers to listing your business on various sites.  in simple words, mentioning your business name, address, phone number, etc. on various sites, such as Yahoo, Google My Business, Yelp Citylocal Pro, and other business directories is termed as Google Map Citation.

Google crawlers constantly search for local information that matches with the listings to show a business in local searches.

How does local SEO work?

Ans. Local SEO works according to the Google location-based algorithms to show a business in local searches in real-time. That means a customer can easily access a service or product near them without even mentioning the location or writing near me in the search. Local SEO helps small businesses to show up in the searches and get traffic and sales from online leads.

Moreover, it also helps businesses to reach potential customers and boost their ranking of Google as well.