NEW FREE VIDEO COURSE: Essential Google Business Profile Tasks for Agencies

Get the lowdown on client onboarding, GBP monitoring, products and services, and more!

Local SEO and Citations

Local SEO and Citations

Local citations are a known component of any successful local SEO strategy. Sometimes you’ll see them referred to as NAP (name, address, phone number) data. Admittedly, their power has waned in recent years as search algorithms have become more sophisticated, but they still play a role in influencing search positions. Building citations, whether that’s with a local citation building service or by yourself, is still a task you’ll need to consider.

What is a local listing citation? 

Before we jump into why they’re important, let’s define what a local listing citation is. This is a mention of your business information on a third-party website. At a minimum, this should include your business name, current address, and phone number.

Additional information, such as your website URL, social media handles, opening hours, service details, and email address may also appear.

What Is A Citation

Are citations important for local SEO? 

Citations are essential for local SEO success. Research shows that they’re the fifth most significant ranking factor for local pack visibility and the fourth most important signal for local organic search results.

A good spread of NAP data across the web also provides several indirect SEO benefits.

Directory and Review Sites Rank Highly in Google Search

Many of the places where you’d look to build a citation are places like directory listings and review sites. These are helpful and popular resources for local consumers and often rank near the top of the search results when a local search is performed.

As a local business owner, you can benefit from this search visibility simply by creating a listing or claiming your profile on popular directory sites and review platforms. Doing so allows you to grow your presence in the search engine results pages (SERPs) without directly competing with powerhouse names such as Yelp or Tripadvisor.

Review Sites Serps

Research has shown that organic search results made up of lists of businesses are the most clicked on by local search users. Claiming a listing with your NAP information filled out on all directory sites — or niche review sites relevant to your industry — can potentially put you just one click away from a first-page ranking. Considering the high volume of traffic that directories like Yelp receive each month, doing so could result in a significant uplift in local visibility.

Become Easier to Find

As a local business, the easier you are to find online, the more likely you are to succeed. Each citation you build provides a direct pathway to your company for anyone interested in connecting with you. 

Directory listings also make your business easier to find by those who aren’t searching for a specific company but are looking for a local product or service, such as a plumber or barber. That’s because many consumers naturally turn to directory and review sites to find a local business that can meet their needs. 

Having your information readily available in the right places puts you in front of anyone actively searching for a business like yours. For example, a presence on Angi would be beneficial for service businesses. Yelp is appropriate for a wide variety of local businesses, and Tripadvisor is recommended for travel businesses.

Yelp Directory Listing

Grow Your Link Profile 

Building links is a prerequisite for SEO success, but it can be difficult and will take time to do well. The good news for local businesses is many places where you’d naturally look to create a citation also provide the opportunity to link back to your website.

Some sites still allow dofollow links to be created, including Bing and a whole host of industry-specific sites. You can use our complete list of local citation sites offering dofollow and nofollow links to discover new opportunities. 

Citations Do Follow Links

Help to Establish Prominence 

Directory sites and other citation sources will often allow users to review local businesses. If you’re keen to improve your local search presence then this is great news for you. This is because it offers you a chance to build a wider pool of positive mentions across the web. The more of these mentions you can obtain, the more prominent and popular your business appears.

A secondary advantage is that the reviews themselves are also a ranking factor, giving you double the benefit when it comes to improving your local visibility.

How many citations are good for SEO? 

Citations have numerous SEO benefits, so it’s helpful to build as many as possible. Your industry will play a role in how many citations you’ll need to accrue to get an SEO advantage, with some sectors more likely to have a higher number of citations than others. On average, businesses that rank on the first page of local search results will have around 80 citations to their name. However, this rises to 152 for the hotel industry, 107 for dentists, and 101 for the medical sector. 

How do I get my local citations indexed?

It’s not enough to create directory listings and online mentions featuring your NAP data. You also need those pages to be indexed to unlock any SEO benefit. There are a few ways to encourage indexing, including using a pinging service or creating a page on your site that includes a link to all your citations. You can find more information about how how to index citations here.

Stephanie Newton
About the author
Stephanie was responsible for managing BrightLocal’s community outreach and engagement, as well as producing and managing content to help inform and educate the local SEO community.