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What Are Citations in SEO? The Ultimate Guide for 2024

Julia McCoy
Thursday, 30th May 2024
what are citations in seo

You’ve built a fantastic website for your local business, but you’re not seeing the search rankings you expected. What’s missing? The answer might be citations.

What are citations in SEO?

Citations refer to mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other websites, typically in directories or listings.

These citations are important because search engines like Google use them to determine the relevance and authority of your business in a particular geographic area.

In the world of local SEO, citations play a crucial role in establishing your business’s online presence and credibility.

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty details of what are citations in SEO, their importance, types, and best practices for managing them effectively.

Table Of Contents:

What Are Citations in SEO?

A local citation refers to any online mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). These citations can be found on websites, apps, social platforms, and business directories — essentially, anywhere your business information is displayed online.

Types of Local Citations

There are two primary types of local citations: structured citations and unstructured citations.

Structured Citations

Structured citations follow a consistent format like business listings in directories or review sites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Google My Business. These citations display your NAP information in a standard structure.

Unstructured Citations

On the other hand, unstructured citations are mentions of your NAP information on any other websites that are not specifically structured for business listings. This could be a blog post that mentions your business name or an online review that includes your address.

While these informal citations may not follow a specific format, they still provide valuable signals to search engines.

How to Build Citations for Your Business

Now that we’ve covered what local citations are and why they matter for SEO, let’s discuss how to build them for your business.

Building citations can be time-consuming, but it’s a worthwhile effort to enhance your local rankings on SERPs.

Step 1: Identify the Right Citation Sources

The first step in building local citations is identifying the right sources.

Not all citation sources are created equal – you want to focus on reputable, high-quality websites that are relevant to your industry and location.

Begin by claiming your business listings on major directories like Google Business Profile, Yelp, and Bing Places. Then, seek out industry-specific directories and local business associations where you can list your business.

Step 2: Submit Your Business Information

Once you’ve identified the right citation sources, it’s time to submit your business information.

Be sure to provide accurate, consistent NAP information across all listings. Even minor variations like “St.” vs “Street” can confuse search engines and negatively impact your local SEO.

Besides your NAP, include other relevant information like your website URL, business hours, and a brief description of your products or services. The more complete and accurate your listings are, the better.

Step 3: Maintain Consistency Across Local Citations

Building citations is an ongoing process – it’s not enough to submit your information once and forget about it. You need to regularly monitor your citations to ensure accuracy and consistency over time.

Utilize tools like Moz Local or BrightLocal to track your citations and identify any inconsistencies or duplicate listings. Make updates as needed to keep your information current and accurate.

The Role of Data Aggregators in Local Citations

In the process of building local citations, data aggregators play a pivotal role. But what exactly are data aggregators, and how do they impact your local SEO efforts?

Data aggregators are companies that collect and distribute business information to various online directories and platforms. The four major data aggregators in the US are:

  • Neustar Localeze
  • Foursquare
  • Factual
  • Infogroup

These aggregators gather business data from various sources, including government databases, utility records, and business listings. They then share this information with a network of online business directories, apps, and search engines.

How Data Aggregators Impact Local SEO

So, how do data aggregators impact your local SEO efforts?

When you submit your business information to data aggregators, they distribute it to their network of directories and platforms. This can help ensure that your NAP information is consistent across the web, which is a key factor in local search rankings.

However, it’s important to note that submitting to data aggregators is not a one-and-done solution. It can take time for your information to be distributed and updated across all sources.

Plus, not all directories and platforms rely on data aggregators for their information.

That’s why it’s still crucial to actively manage your citations and submit your information directly to key directories and platforms in addition to working with data aggregators.

By adopting a multi-pronged approach, you can maximize your citation accuracy and consistency for better local SEO results.

How Citations Influence Local Search Rankings

If you’re looking to boost your local search rankings, building local citations is a must.

Search engines like Google use local citations as a way to verify the existence and credibility of your business. The more high-quality, consistent citations you have, the more likely you are to rank well in local search results.

what are citations in seo

According to a study by BrightLocal, citation signals account for 7% of the overall ranking factors for local SEO.

But it’s not just about quantity. The quality and relevance of your citations matter too.

A citation from a well-established, industry-specific directory will carry more weight than a spammy, low-quality one.

Combining Citations with Other Local SEO Strategies

While citations are a key piece of the local SEO puzzle, they work best when combined with other strategies. This includes:

  • Optimizing your Google My Business listing
  • Building local backlinks
  • Creating localized content
  • Encouraging customer reviews

By tackling local SEO from multiple angles, you’ll be able to maximize your visibility in local search results and attract more targeted traffic to your business.

Local Citations and Your Online Presence

Building local citations isn’t just about boosting your search rankings. It can also have a significant impact on your overall online presence and reputation.

Building Trust and Credibility

When potential customers search for a local business, they want to know that they can trust the results.

Having consistent, accurate citations across reputable directories can go a long way in building that trust.

Think about it – if a customer sees your business listed on well-known platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and industry-specific directories, they’re more likely to view you as a credible, established business.

Driving Targeted Traffic

Local citations don’t just help with search rankings – they can also drive targeted traffic directly to your business. Many directories allow you to include a link to your website, making it easy for potential customers to learn more about your products or services.

Plus, some directories like Yelp have a loyal user base that relies on the platform to find and research local businesses. By optimizing your listings on these sites, you can tap into a new source of highly targeted traffic.

Enhancing Your Local Reputation

Finally, local citations can play a key role in managing and enhancing your online reputation. Many directories allow customers to leave reviews and ratings, which can have a big impact on how potential customers perceive your business.

By monitoring your citations and actively managing your reviews (responding to both positive and negative feedback), you can showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction and build a strong, positive reputation in your local market.

Best Practices for Managing Local Citations

Now that you know the importance of local citations, let’s dive into some best practices for managing them effectively.

Monitoring Your Citations

Keeping track of your citations is crucial for maintaining accuracy and consistency. But with so many directories out there, it can be a daunting task.

That’s where citation management tools come in handy. Platforms like Moz Local, BrightLocal, and Yext can help you monitor your citations, spot any inconsistencies, and even submit updates across multiple directories.

Updating Business Information

If your business information changes (like a new address or phone number), it’s important to update your citations as soon as possible. Inconsistent NAP information can confuse both search engines and potential customers, hurting your local SEO efforts.

Using a listings management tool can streamline this process by allowing you to submit updates to multiple directories at once. Just be sure to keep your information consistent across all platforms, including your website and social media profiles.

Handling Duplicate Listings

Duplicate listings can be a major headache for local businesses. They can dilute your SEO efforts and even lead to incorrect information being displayed to potential customers.

If you come across any duplicate listings, it’s important to address them promptly. You can either claim the listing and update the information or reach out to the directory to have it removed.

Again, citation management tools can be a lifesaver here by helping you identify and clean up any duplicate listings quickly and efficiently.

FAQs: What Are Citations in SEO?

Are citations important for SEO?

Yes, citations are crucial for local search rankings and helping Google trust your business.

How to get citations for SEO?

Add your business info to online directories like Yelp and YellowPages. Consistency is key.

Citations list your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) while backlinks link back to your site from another website.

What is a citation in off-page SEO?

A citation in off-page SEO means listing your business details on external websites or directories without linking directly back.


Citations are a powerful tool for boosting your local search visibility, building trust with potential customers, and enhancing your overall online presence.

These mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on various web platforms, even without backlinks, contribute significantly to local search rankings.

By ensuring consistent and accurate citations across the internet, you can improve the chances of your business being found by potential customers, gain trust from search engines, and ultimately drive more traffic to your websites.

As part of a comprehensive local SEO strategy, prioritizing and managing citations effectively can lead to better local search performance and a stronger online presence.

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Written by Julia McCoy

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