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Citation Building: How To Improve Your Local SEO

By the Rhino Rank team
18th Sep 2023

Picture this: You’ve opened a business in your local area, waiting patiently for the first customers to walk through the door. 

But as the weeks pass and you don’t see any changes, you begin to worry. You need to step up your local SEO strategy immediately.

Online marketing is a competitive field where only the most visible companies and brands will thrive. If you don’t have a solid local SEO plan, your company may as well be a lost treasure. 

Many methods are advocated for enhancing one’s online profile, but one crucial one is typically disregarded in favor of more well-known strategies – citation building.

This article will teach you how to build citations, a potent catalyst that may boost your local search engine optimization. Here, we’ll show you by hand and explain in detail how to craft citations, make them search engine friendly, and what incredible advantages they may bring to your brand. 

Get ready to maximize your local SEO’s untapped potential and welcome a rush of new, enthusiastic consumers.

Short Summary 

  • Citation building in SEO involves creating consistent and accurate online references to a business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP).
  • It’s essential for local businesses as search engines rely on citations to verify legitimacy, impacting local search rankings.
  • The best strategy is to list NAP information on reputable directories, local business listings, and ensure consistency across all platforms.

What Are Local Citations?

Local citations explained

Every online mention of your company that contains the NAP details (name, web address, physical address, and phone number) is considered a local citation. Local citations are also known as local listings, local SEO citations, or just listings since they appear in online directories.

Your business NAP is the minimum required local information to generate a directory listing. However, several websites allow for a great deal more content.

It is important to note that anybody, not only the company owner, can build local search citations. Furthermore, business directories and data aggregators are possible reference sources. If your company’s name and contact details appear in any online mentions or references of your firm, even a blog post, it may be deemed a citation.

Therefore, without careful management, your company’s data may seem inconsistent and outdated across several platforms. This might throw off prospective buyers and harm your search engine optimization.

For this reason, monitoring your listings and building your local citations is essential.


Citation Building: The Definition 

Local citation building refers to compiling, organizing, and updating listings in web directories. Industry directories, local directories, and custom company profiles qualify as business listings. Local citation building is a great way to get the word out about what you do to a wide range of people who may be interested in what you provide. 

Local citation building affects local search rankings by influencing internet users to gravitate toward certain local companies based on where they appear on the search engine results page.

When doing a local search, proximity, popularity, and prominence are prioritized. Combining these characteristics helps consumers zero down on the most relevant results. This is achieved via the use of effective local SEO strategies.

Types of Local Citations

Structured Citations

These are mentions of your company in relevant internet directories that collect information about local businesses. The business details contained in most structured citations will be displayed in the same way. The content varies from company to company, but the structure (layout and format) stays the same.

A structured citation provides a standard way to cite your company, boosting your position in local search results. They include your company’s name, address, phone number, and URL. They also contribute to your local SEO by generating quality backlinks to your site.

However, they take time to make and may cost money to get listed in specific directories’ “premium” sections.

Unstructured Citations

They will appear anywhere your company’s name is referenced online or in a mobile app and do not follow any format. This could be a blog post, article, or social media message. 

Unstructured citations also usually include a link to the company’s main website. Therefore, you may also use them to boost your local search results since they provide more flexibility than their structured counterparts. But they may be more challenging to manage, execute, and monitor and may not include all relevant company data.

An unstructured citation may also include incorrect information, making it difficult for potential consumers to contact you.

While both forms of citations may enhance your local citation profile, your SEO citation-building strategy should prioritize quality over number. Still, it is essential to have your company included in as many relevant internet directories as possible.

Elements of a Good Online Citation 

A well-written reference may make all the difference when building credibility on the web. Here, we’ll break down what Google considers a quality web citation, so your company can get the recognition it deserves.

Business Name

Your internet persona is built around your company name. Therefore, the business name must be consistent across every channel. You should not have the same name as another business. 

Choose a distinct and memorable name to stand out from the crowd. It should also be catchy and memorable for people to identify and remember your company. You should also include keywords in the name if you want your company to appear higher in search engine results.

Business Address 

A thorough citation must include your company address. It’s integral to local search engine optimization and helps people find your local business. Include the street name, city, state, and zip code. Consistency may confuse readers and hurt your online presence.

Business Phone Number

Ensure that your business’s phone number is displayed clearly in every citation. This boosts your company’s credibility and makes it easier for more customers to contact you.  

Working Hours

You should display your open business hours so prospective clients know when your local business is open. This will help them set appropriate expectations and prepare for on-site visits. Specify when and on what days your company is open. Remember to include any holiday/special event adjustments to regular hours.  

Products and Services

Your company must showcase the extensive selection of goods and services it provides. Create a short yet detailed explanation highlighting your selling points. It should also set you apart from the competition. Try and incorporate keywords to boost your SEO. 

Social Media Links 

Social media platforms are a great way to market your business. Add references to your active social media platforms. This way, potential customers may learn more about your business, form relationships with you and your brand, and follow all the newest developments in these areas.


Images help to captivate and interest internet users. They can significantly enhance your citation by highlighting your goods, services, or business atmosphere. 

Ensure the images convey the right message about your company and make people feel good. You can also improve their discoverability in image searches by giving them informative file names and alt text that include important keywords.

The Importance of Citation Building 

There are several advantages to building citations for small businesses:

  • They enhance your local search engine rankings.
  • They provide consistent and reliable business data about a company. Local citations increase exposure to potential consumers.
  • They drive more visitors to your site and produce more leads.
  • SEO-optimized citations build credibility with both users and search engines.

How to Build Local Citations

Many businesses have employed the following strategies to build local citations:

1. Claim and Optimize Your Google Business Profile

Claiming and perfecting your Google Business listing is a crucial first step for the small business owner. The information on your Google Business listing, such as your location, hours of operation, customer reviews, and telephone, is prominently in Google search results.

You may claim your Google Business Profile by visiting the Google Business site and completing the necessary procedures to verify your company’s existence.

Once you’ve taken ownership of your listing, the next step is to fill it with relevant information about your company.

If you want more visibility on Google, consider these suggestions.

  • Pick the appropriate categories: You can help Google better understand your company by placing it in relevant categories.
  • Display accurate information: Maintain uniformity in using your company’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) across all websites and directories. Ensure accurate citations across all platforms.
  • Use high-quality images: Post professional-quality images of your company’s goods and services.
  • Write a captivating summary of your company: Your company description has to be clear, short, and keyword-rich.
  • Inspire feedback from your clientele: Getting consumers to post reviews on your Google page will improve your local search results, so be sure you ask for feedback from your satisfied clients.

If you want more people to find your company online, boost your reputation, and see it higher up in local search results, claim your Google company listing and optimize it immediately.

2. Local Directories

Adding your small company to local directories is an excellent way to increase your online exposure and rank higher in local search results.

Search engine algorithms that choose which companies to show to customers in response to a product or service search online rely heavily on local citations. If you put your company in these directories, Google will be more likely to give it a high page rank, increasing the possibility that prospective clients will find it.

You may use the following list of specialized and popular local directories to start establishing local citations:

  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Angi (formerly Angie’s List)

You can also use other industry-specific directories relevant to your niche sites. For instance, healthcare link building can occur when organizations complete business listings on directories like Vitals, HealthGrades, RateMDs, and other sites. 

A quick web search should turn up a few suggestions. Listing management tools may aid with general directories.

Ensure that your company’s name, telephone, address, URL, and operation hours are all correct, up-to-date, and consistent when placing entries on these directories.

If you update your telephone, modify your citations to reflect your new contact information. 

If Google identifies different addresses or duplicate listings, they may not show you at all to avoid giving their consumers an unpleasant experience.

3. Review Sites

Inviting consumers to submit reviews is a great way to boost your local search engine results.

Local search algorithms place a lot of weight on customer feedback, and companies with more positive ratings tend to rise to the top of the list.

Here are some suggestions for getting more reviews from satisfied customers:

  • Make it simple: Ensure your website, social media pages, and follow-up emails connect to your company’s profile on reviews like Facebook, Google, and Yelp, where customers may leave reviews.
  • Request the reviews: You may ask clients on social media, in person, or by email if you want reviews. Demonstrate that you’re considering their suggestions and appreciative of their patronage.
  • Give feedback: Get back to people about their experiences, good and bad. Respond to client comments by fixing any problems they may have encountered. This demonstrates that you care about your client’s needs and are dedicated to meeting or exceeding their expectations.

4. Data Aggregators

Websites known as “data aggregators” collect data from several citation sources and submit it to multiple databases and search engines.

This consolidates company information, making it more straightforward for search engines to provide up-to-date details about your company. They increase your online exposure and bring in more clients.

Here are some top data aggregator networks for local companies to submit their business information to:

  • Neustar Localeze
  • Data Axle
  • Factual
  • Foursquare

Keep in mind that there are plenty of different data aggregators available. For some, you may need to pay, but for others, you can list your company for free. It’s crucial to weigh your choices and make decisions based on how well they serve your company’s budget and long-term objectives.

5. Whitespark

Local search engine optimization specialists should include Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder in their citation builder tools. It makes it easy to find your company’s most significant citation prospects. 

You can save time and energy by keeping tabs on your current listings and discovering new chances based on your top-ranked competitor’s citations.

6. Social Media

Social media can increase your online visibility in your local area. This can be achieved by building local citations by including critical data in your profile. Be sure to ensure consistency across all platforms. You can also use the location tools on the platforms (like Apple Maps).

7. Monitor and Update Your Local Citations

You can’t just throw in a few references and call it a day. Once you have cited anything, you must keep track of and update your existing citations. Citation inconsistencies and errors may harm user experience and local search engine results.

Use a citation management tool to ensure all your references are current. BrightLocal, Whitespark, and Moz Local can assist you in keeping track of your citations throughout the web and quickly rectify any mistakes you find. 

This will guarantee that your company’s details are correct and uniform across all important sites and relevant business directories.

Elevate Your Business Today 

In summary, local citations are essential for boosting internet exposure and attracting possible new clients for small companies and service providers.

Your local business can build citations successfully and gain the confidence of its audience by using the valuable advice provided in this article.

In the long run, local citation building will be essential to your local SEO since it helps search engines recognize your company as an expert.


Citation Building FAQs 

What Is Citation Building in SEO?

Citation building in SEO involves creating online mentions of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on various websites and directories. These citations help improve local search visibility and boost your business’s credibility with search engines.

What Are Some Examples of Local Citations?

Local citations may be found in newspapers, press websites, and blogs with a regional focus. For instance, the website LeftLion is an excellent marketing tool for pubs, bars, clubs, and restaurants in the area. Social media platforms can also be used to build local citations.

How Do I Build Citations For A Business

You can get local citations from internet resources like Yelp, social media channels like Facebook, and search engines like Google Business Profile.

Are Local Citation Building Services Important for SEO?

Local citations are crucial for small companies since they can boost local search engine optimization immensely. Local citations validate your company information and help search engines like Bing and Google establish trust, credibility, and standing in the neighborhood.

What Are Citations in Link Building?

A citation mentions your company’s name, phone number, and address online. Name, Address, and phone number (or “N.A.P. details,” for short) are the minimum for any successful interaction. 

What Is the Difference Between Citation and Link Building?

The most noticeable distinction between citations and local link building is that the citations do not need a hyperlink. Your organization may be referenced appropriately, even if it is just mentioned in passing in a blog piece.