What are Local Citations and Why They are Important ?

Kaushal Thakkar is the Founder and MD of Infidigit. He has developed award-winning search strategies for various organizations, ranging from large enterprise and e-commerce websites to small and medium-sized businesses. Before Infidigit, he was leading digital marketing, product, and eCommerce initiatives at Myntra (a Walmart Company), Times Group, ICICI Group, Tata Group. Being an engineer and product manager in his earlier days, he loves to hack growth for websites via technical SEO strategies. He is a speaker at various forums and a Pro bono guest lecturer on Organic Search, Digital Marketing, Analytics & eCommerce. In X @

What are Local Citations and Why They are Important ?

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    Information is the key to running a business. Listing a business on the internet allows it to generate new leads and revenue. It also gives them visibility across the customer base. However, what matters is the kind of information that is posted online. This is where local citations come into play. Local citations help businesses get optimum results and assist them in reaching the right audience. 

    So what exactly are local citations composed of?

    What are local citations in SEO?

    In simple terms, local citations in SEO are references and information pertaining to a business. This would include basic details, such as information about the nature of business, the location, and contact details. The most important information about a business is the name, address, and phone number or contact information (NAP). Information regarding the operational timings, maps location, website, etc. can also be added while citation building.  You can also incorporate business categories, terms of payment, images, and videos as well while you’re building your local citation.

     

    What are local citations

    How does Local Citation Work?

    When determining your site’s ranking, Google considers many factors, including the proximity of your company to the search location. Begin by creating a well-optimized Google My Business account. List yourself on high-domain websites. Your visibility will improve when you receive a local SEO citation from an authoritative site. Also, factors such as text hyperlinks and local SEO assist with listing and improved visibility.

    Be the local choice on ‘near me’ searches.

    Elevate your presence in local searches and let interested customers locate your products and services with ease.

    Be the local choice on
    ‘near me’ searches.

    Elevate your presence in local searches and let interested customers locate your products and services with ease.

    How Can I Search for Local Citation Opportunities? 

    In order to find local citation-building opportunities, start with a list of the most common business directories in your city. Make an effort to learn where your competitors have listed their companies. If the entire process appears to be time-consuming, you can use a variety of paid and free tools to assist you

    Why are Local Citations Important?

    Local citations are important as they help users discover new businesses and also impact the search results rankings. 

    Why-are-Local-Citations-Important

    • Better Local rankings:

    Verified information often gets better rankings. Local citations can improve rankings and positively impact your local SEO campaign. They also help search engines verify the information about the business itself. 

    • Increase traffic to your site:

    Improved or better rankings would mean that there is increased visibility through search engines. This converts into traffic to your site, which can aid in generating new business and also help as a brand-building exercise. By adding the right citations through local SEO services, you can list your business in various directories, which routes traffic from Google and other search engines.

    • Piggyback on business directories:

    Online business directories are usually the first result that shows up when you conduct an online search. With local citations, you can piggyback through these directories as online directories provide opportunities for local businesses. 

    • Build customer base:

    Listing your business in more than one business directory with the help of the right local citations can build a bigger customer base. Customers want to know how genuine the business is and if it can be trusted. Listing on directories with local citations provides genuineness and helps trust-building 

    • Creates awareness:

    Local citations can also create awareness about your business. Accurate information can lead users to know more about your business, especially if it is a new entrant in the market.

    Earn Traffic from Referrals

    Local citations can help generate web traffic. However, it is essential to focus on citations you have used and have been successful in the past. Remember that customers will only visit your site or business if they find relevant data on relevant directories. 

    The Best Way to Choose the Right Citations 

    While there are plenty of citations that you can find, there is no particular rule on how you can choose the right citations that would allow your business to do better. If you think there are set rules that can help, you will realize that it would be hard to make decisions while choosing how to use citations. 

    However, there are certain factors that you can take into consideration:

    Citations by Category

    Choosing citations that are relevant to your industry would make sense. Hence, you need to look for citations based on category. This would ensure that you can find business directories with similar companies listed.

    Citations by Popularity

    Apart from choosing directories that allow you to list by category, you must also focus on popular directories. This can make things easier for your business to grow and reach more people.

    Which Citations are Necessary?

    You would need different citations for listing your business, so you must look for the ones that offer you better returns. Choosing citations relevant to your business and industry would be the appropriate step. However, you can also look for citations based on your country, which can get your business a better search ranking. Look for citations based on performance. Hence, you must evaluate different factors to decide which local citation can provide better results.

    How do Local Citations Help Users to Discover Your Business?

    Local citation building is crucial if you want to improve your business’ visibility in front of the locals. If you are running a small store and are expecting your prospects to search for you on Google, well, that would happen very rarely.  Locals frequently seek assistance from specialist directories, Yellow Pages, Yelp, and so on. If you are not listed on such sites, but your peers are, you will have difficulty growing your revenue.

    Let us illustrate this with an example.

    If you type the best salon in Mumbai in the search bar, the results will include a few salon websites. Whereas; the directories will yield the most of the local search results. 

    Types of Citations 

    There are three types of citations: structured, industry-specific, and unstructured citations: 

    Structured Citations

     Citation on structured directories cater to local businesses.  Examples of structured local citations include directories like JustDial, Google Maps, Yellow Pages, and social media platforms like Facebook as well. These directories let you control what kind of information you would like to share and update the same at your will. If you want to find a business or service in one particular area, these citations come in handy.

    structured citation

    Industry-Specific Citations

     While these can be classified as general directories, there are also business-specific directories where local citations are used. If you are looking for a specific doctor in your area, you would search the same on a medical directory rather than a general directory like Yellow Pages. 

    Unstructured Citation

     Business information that shows up on websites, blogs or any social media platform falls under unstructured citation. These listings are not generated by the business. They, sometimes, show up on the websites because of frequently used keywords. These citations can be developed for the business or can be featured on webpage, through algorithms based on merit or keywords.

    Unstructured citation

    Search Engines

    When you are looking for a citation in SEO, you can also get them through search engines that can gradually boost your website presence. Some of the key search engines are:

    • Google
    • Bing 
    • Apple

    Primary Data Aggregators

    Simply put, primary data aggregators are large databases that provide information to various search engines and online directories. Hence, they can share and distribute information about your local business.

    • Data Axle 
    • Foursquare

    Major Directories and Important Platforms

    You can also look for local business data platforms and directories that list your business citation.

    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • Yelp
    • CitySquares
    • ezLocal

    Owned Properties

    Here, owned property would mean your website. Your business webpage will be one of the first things the customer will visit if they are interested in your product or service. Hence you must include information like name, address, and phone number on your website. You also need to consider the header and footer space where you can post this information. If there is any change in the data, you will have to change it on the website to prevent misleading information.

    Components of a Local Citation 

    When doing local citations, make sure you incorporate several components to ensure the success of your business. The most common elements are the office address, company name, and contact information. In addition to the basic details, add the following as well.

    • Create a business category to assist customers in understanding your domain.
    • List operational hours so that people are aware of any changes in working hours during festivals.
    • Include images and videos to give visitors a look inside your office or store.
    • List the various acceptable payment methods.
    • Include customer reviews; this will increase the trustworthiness of your brand.
    • Include geolocation and driving directions.

    How do I build Local Citations?

    Building your local citation is not as difficult as it may seem. Local SEO services can help businesses with citation building. However, few things need to be kept in mind while building local citations: 

    • Citation Tools:

    There are various citation tools available online that build local citations. These tools tell you which are the most popularly used sites to list your business including social media platforms, general directories, or even business-specific directories. 

    • Local Directories:

    These directories work best if you are just starting to build your local citation. It is important to get listed in these local directories since the possibility of generating business through such directories is considered to be higher. Customers also tend to act faster if they know that the service they need is closer to home. Some directories will pick up information about your business through data aggregators. Hence you must check if your listing already exists on the web, especially on structured directories. If they exist, review them periodically to make sure that the data is correct and updated. If not, you can create your local citations and list them as per your preference.

    • Data Aggregators:

    Data aggregators collect information from various online sources, which then gets shared with other sites. They are considered to be data mines as the reach is much higher than local or business-specific directories.

    • Review Sites:

    Customer reviews are considered an important factor when it comes to rankings on search engines. The content is user-generated and is an excellent platform for local citations. You should periodically check review sites to see if your business has been reviewed. Check for the authenticity of information of NAP. You can use these reviews on your website as well to divert traffic from review sites to your website.

    • Social Media:

    Create social media accounts with accurate business details to create opportunities for citation building. Any trending data on top social media sites gets picked up by Google and helps with listing on the search page. If you have more than one social media account, information on each of the accounts should be the same and accurate. 

    How can I Check Local Citations?

    • Manual Check:

    While there are a few online local citation sources you can check, in reality, you need to check only a few major ones. These would include the big players like Facebook, Google Maps, local directories, etc.

    Search engines tend to show the results from these sites on the top. With the right local citations, businesses on these local directories also get listed as per rankings. While checking these major sites, ensure that the information is correct as data aggregators tend to pick up those listings and put them on various sites. 

    • Automated Check:

    To avail this paid service, all you need to do is enter your business data. This data gets sent out to the web, automatically and doesn’t require any manual intervention from your side. You would not need to push this to any particular site or directory either. Since these kinds of services come at a cost, review their network partners, tools, and features and then make an informed decision. 

    Best Practices of Citation

    There are a few factors you need to keep in mind when building a citation:

    • Consistency:

    NAP, which is your business name, address, and phone number, is one of the most important factors of local citation. Keep these three factors consistent across the web.

    • Descriptions:

    Keywords help in getting better rankings on search engines. Describe your business with the best keywords to improve your local listings. Placement of the description is also important. This description should ideally be followed after the name, address, and phone number of the business. 

    • Website:

    If you own a business website, optimize the same. Many businesses will take you to the homepage. Instead of landing on the homepage first, you can take your audience to the location page or the contact page. If the user already knows about your business, landing on the location page saves time and effort for the user. This helps them gauge if the business is close to them and translate to a new lead.

    • Pictures:

    Pictures speak a thousand words. Good images about the business can help translate search into business. Adding photos and optimizing them also helps your rankings on the search pages. 

    • Reviews:

    As mentioned earlier, review sites are a great way to build local citations. If your business has good reviews, use the same on your website as well. This is a great method to improve your rankings since Google picks up reviews from different sites and links them to searches based on local citations.

    Why is it Essential to Keep Your Local Citations Accurate?

    Local citations are critical if you want your prospects to find you on the internet. However, simply listing your company in various local directories will not help you if other critical details are missing or incorrect. Assume you own a restaurant in Fort in South Mumbai, but your address is listed as Colaba in local directories. Regardless of how delicious the food you serve or how effective your customers’ word-of-mouth advertising is, new customers will have difficulty finding your restaurant. Moreover, incorrect information will make your company appear fake and may result in a slew of negative reviews.

    My Experience with Cult.fit’s GMB Citation Strategy

    Paragraph: Assuming you’ve reached this point, you’re likely well-versed in the power of local citation building for GMB listings. Now, let me share my firsthand experience applying these strategies to Cult.fit’s Local SEO project. Our goal was clear: boost website traffic through their GMB listings.

    Leveraging my past Local SEO expertise, I divided my team into two units:

    • GMB Listing Audit Team: These eagle-eyed specialists reviewed every aspect of Cult.fit’s listings, ensuring accuracy and completeness.
    • Citation Building Team: This dedicated crew scoured popular local sites within our target areas, strategically adding Cult.fit’s business details, contact information, map links, website addresses, and photos.

    This combined effort led to a phenomenal 551.23% increase in website visits across all locations within just 9 months! If you’re curious about the specific citation-building process we followed, dive into the Cult.fit GMB Case Study for a detailed breakdown: Cult Fit GMB Case Study

    Best Local Citations Sites 

    There are numerous citation sites on the market, with some assisting businesses across sectors and others focusing on a specific industry. The following are some of the most popular citation sites with high domain scores.:

    Best-Local-Citations-Sites

    • google.com
    • bing.com
    • maps.apple.com
    • yelp.com
    • local.yahoo.com
    • merchantcircle.com
    • yellowpages.com
    • bbb.org
    • mapquest.com
    • foursquare.com
    • tomtom.com

    Conclusion

    Neglecting local citations is a business risk as it can damage the online ranking and lead to the stagnation of business. Since this is the core data of the business, accurate citations will have a positive impact not just on the web but also in terms of revenue and customer trust.

    Co-Author: Nitin Vishwakarma
    Last Updated on: 16 Feb 2024

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    What are Local Citations and Why They are Important ?