Citation Essentials – Improve Your Local SEO

Local Seo Citation Building

What is a Citation?

A citation is an online reference to your businesses NAP – name, address and phone number.

In some cases the mention will include a link back to your website, often it will not.

An example of a citation might be a listing in a local directory:

Local Citation Example

Google takes NAP mentions into consideration when measuring your businesses online presence (along with reviews, backlinks and other factors).

Based solely on opinion, David Mihm states that local citations make up approximately 25% in local search ranking factors.

Local Ranking Factors

It’s probably an accurate estimation which suggests the more citations you gain for your small business from quality sources, the higher your rankings are likely to be. It makes sense to the algorithm that a business which is being mentioned a lot online, should rank above a business website which is hardly being mentioned at all.

NAP information can be published horizontally, vertically, with spaces or even upside down it really doesn’t matter. What’s important is that all the information is there and its consistent across the board, same business name, telephone number and address.

Consistency is important because Google uses the NAP mentions to cross reference the information they have displayed in their local search listings. If exactly the same nap is mentioned on 40+ websites, the algorithm will feel confident it is the correct, accurate information to display to searchers.

Being consistent is likely to earn your business website a little love back from Google, it’s important you recognise this and spend time getting things right and conducting regular audits and edits.

Are Some Citations More Powerful Than Others?

The answer is yes, most definitely. Much like backlinking low quality high numbers will not win this game, citation builders who target relevant websites in terms of location and or industry will be crowned champions.

Where to get citations?

The best place to get citations are from the main data aggregrators and providers, this should always be your starting point.

To save you time, we have compiled a comprehensive list for both UK and US businesses, which can be downloaded here.

Although directories are a great place to get citations they are not the only place. Other sources include:

  • Locally Focused Directories
  • Local Blogs
  • Local business associations and chambers of commerce
  • Industry related associations and websites
  • Partnerships with other local businesses
  • Press releases
  • Local newspaper directories
  • Forum signatures

How to find good citations

1) Whitespark

Whitespark is a local citation finder tool, which will find citations from both key-phrase and competitor searches. It’s important to note that much like link building there is absolutely no point in reinventing the wheel and spending to long on finding high quality citations your competitors haven’t got.

At just $20 per month which is all you will need if building citations for one site, it’s a valuable tool and simple to use.

Key-phrase search

citation keyphrase search


keyphrase results

Competitor Search:

competitor citation search


competitor citation results

2) NAP Search in Google

Searching for a competitors NAP in Google will provide you with a free option of uncovering many opportunities.

Use the following search string:

“Competitors business name”AND”Postcode” -site:

To be more specific if you were analysing the business who’s web page was currently ranking 1 for “dentist london” the search string would be:

“Bow Lane Dental Group” AND “EC4M 9EE” -site:

Providing 59 results and plenty of good opportunities:

nap search in google

3) Utilise social media

You may or may not have social media accounts set up for your business. If you have add your NAP details, if you haven’t, set them up on the following:

  • Facebook business page
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Linkedin
  • Foursquare

4) Yext

Yext will ensure you get listed on multiple directories, however it comes at a cost of $475 A YEAR! In my opinion this is a huge expense which simply doesn’t add up, you may think differently however. Either way it’s an option.

The Do’s & Dont’s

  • Remove duplicates
  • Try your best to keep NAP information consistent
  • Only submit what’s permitted to your chosen sources
  • Keep clear records of all sources you have submitted to and login details
  • Take time selecting as many of the correct categories when submitting for your business
  • Conduct regular audits of your citations and edit accordingly


  • Think it’s a low quality numbers game. 2,000 citations is to many
  • Get stressed out over 100% NAP consistency just do your best
  • Try to do everything in a day, 1 – 2 hours is fine, it could take 2 months for you to finish a citation building campaign which is also fine.
  • Don’t hire someone you are unsure of (from fiverr as an example) to build your citations. It might be quick and cheap initially, but could
  • Forget that although Google is king, the queen and other family members – Bing Places, Apple Maps and Yahoo Local should still have correct and complete listings.
  • Confine yourself to free listings only. If you uncover influential and reputable sources that high ranking competitors are listed on, it will be worth investing a little cash to reap the long term rewards.
  • Submit to a source before thoroughly checking your business is not already listed there.
  • Skimp with the extra details. If you are able to include services, additional information, keywords, logo and images then do it! Google may take this information into consideration when trying to work out what your business provides.

Don’t Forget Your Website

Including your NAP on every page of your website will help to optimise your business website further by ensuring your geographic and contact information is listed predominately. This is the first step in implementing schema which enables the embed of structured data used by search engines, a tactic both underused and highly effective within local SEO.

God, this is boring!

Personally I have the attention span of a goldfish, especially carrying out mundane tasks such as this. if you are a small business owner and have decided to do your SEO in house, I’d highly recommend hiring a freelancer or using autofill software like Roboform.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

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