local SEO citations article cover image

Local SEO citations refer to online listings that mention the name, address, and phone number of a local business. Also referred to as NAP listings, local listings help users to discover local businesses through local search directories. When executed correctly, NAP citation building can help to lay the foundation for the relevancy, authority, and trust of a website.

When it comes to local SEO, laying this foundation is absolutely crucial to the success of growing your business online. Citations have long been considered a vital component of getting both users and search engines to trust a business. If you’re not building local citations, you’re missing out on the enormous potential to have your business discovered locally. So, what is a local SEO citation? And, are citations still relevant in 2020?

This article will break down local citations, Google’s role in local citations, and how local SEO citation building can drive a business’ online presence. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What Is Local SEO Citation?

explanation of a local citation or NAP listing

When it comes to local SEO, citations refer to any mentions of a local business online. A local citation will generally come in the form of a business listing or online directory listing and will provide essential business information for both search engines and users.

At its core, a local SEO citation is an online reference to a business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) data. Taking over where old-school phone books left off, local SEO citations are online directories for businesses to provide their most important information. Citations may be in a business directory or an industry-specific platform. Citations not only help internet users to discover local businesses but also impact local search engine rankings.

Local citations work to ensure data accuracy, providing Google and other search engines with consistent business information to build a trustworthy and legitimate presence. Search engines rely on local citations to collect data about businesses, validate that data, and in turn, increase the business’ chances of ranking well in local SERPs.

Do Local Citations Work In SEO?

The simple answer to “Do Local Citations work in SEO?” is yes.

However, local SEO citations should not be exploited. Like anything to do with online marketing, too much of something is never good. Citations are supposed to be online directory listings to build the NAP consistency of business online. However, with many platforms also providing a backlink to the business’ website, the practice of local SEO citation building has been exploited over time. Despite what many think, local SEO citation is not a link building tactic.

Local SEO citations are essential for local search rankings because they provide verification and trust. When there are multiple credible sources with the same accurate information about a business, it signals to search engines that the business is both trustworthy and legitimate.

In saying that, not all citations are created equal. There is a huge variation in the value of citations; the mention of NAP information on a credible website can be of enormous benefit to a business. However, having a listing on a spammy web directory will not only provide little value, but it will also associate the business with low-quality web spam behaviour.

Local Citation Link Building

tips for building local SEO citations

The trick with local SEO citation link building is to only engage with legitimate citation sources. Building citations should centre on laying the foundation for NAP consistency – not acquiring hundreds of backlinks from low-quality websites.

Local SEO citation link building should also focus on relevant citations. The online directories used for NAP consistency will vary, depending on the nature and the industry of the business. It’s essential to stick to citation and directory sites that are relevant, trustworthy, and credible.

Finally, citations need to be consistent to have the right effect. NAP consistency is one of the critical factors for data collection in local search. If search engines or users come across contradictory basic business information, this will provide the brand with less trustworthy and legitimate perception.

Businesses can either manually add local SEO citations or rely on an automated local SEO citation tool. Local SEO citation tools help to manage online business directories and ensure citation consistency, significantly speeding up the process of local SEO citation building.

Google Maps Citations for Local Business SEO

statistics about local citation building in SEO

In essence, Google is actually the most fundamental local citation a business can receive. Google Map Citations for Local SEO, or Google My Business (GMB), is one of the strongest local relevancy signals a website can acquire.

If there’s one citation that every business should have, it’s Google My Business. One of the most popular and frequented platforms online, GMB works to connect customers with local businesses through Google Maps. Once a business is set up on GMB, it is entirely discoverable by search engines and users. The information provided by GMB will allow users to make informed decisions about businesses in their area, read reviews from previous customers, and keep up to date with the latest information on a business.

Google Maps is not represented as a citation, but really, GMB and Google Maps work together to provide the internet’s most popular online local SEO citation tool.

In Summary

Citations are the online publications of core business information. Not only do local SEO citations influence customer discovery, but they work to build a foundation to increase local search engine rankings. When used correctly, local citations positively impact rankings, reputation, and relevancy. Due to the high value of local citations, it is crucial to engage with platforms that are trustworthy and reliable.

Having a strong citation profile is one of the most primary aspects of local SEO. Whether you are a service-based business, a brick and mortar style location, or an online organisation, local SEO citation building is one of the first aspects of SEO you should consider. Build a solid foundation for your business’ online presence by implementing ethical and sustainable local SEO citation building.

Ready to learn more about how local SEO can skyrocket your business online? Get in touch with one of the leading experts at Safari Digital today.

Breanna Golub - Author Information