12/27/2017

I will do Local SEO Citations For New Business

Local SEO Citations

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In summary, there is definitely a risk when you decide to cancel an ongoing automated service that was previously in place to correct your citations. It’s important for people to realize that if they decide to do this, they might want to budget for some manual citation building/cleanup in case any issues arise.



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Great question. One of the issues I have with automated tools is just like you mentioned, they miss things and improperly label things. If you're using one of these services, always make sure you also have a human eye look it over. I would never fully leave NAP cleanup to the bots ;)

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Great article Joy!

I've had some outstanding success with Myth 5:
One of the search terms I was targeting returned around 6/10 listings that were all local directories. So naturally, these were the directories I had to target. They were by far the most relevant, brought in a lot of referrals and even if they didn't click through to the clients site, they were still getting calls and bookings from these directories. The beauty with these listings was that when I published the listing, they appeared at the top of the directories for the relevant categories.
What I did find though is that after around 5 weeks, the listing jumped from position 9 to position 2 for a local search " + ". The " + near me" search listing dropped to position 13 due to the local directories having more authority for a "near me" search and the map listing rose to position 1.

All in all, I'd say local directory listings that were relevant and appeared for the keywords we were targeting was actually a huge success. They increased the off-site SEO, referrals, call volume and boosted the listings rankings.
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If your business has had multiple locations and listings in the past, if you have inconsistent and incorrect citations across the web, or if you have had multiple listing owners, you could run into duplicate listing issues on Google. The only way you'll know is if you do a comprehensive search (this article shows you the best ways to find duplicates). If you come across a duplicate, one of the best means to eradicating it is to call Google directly or report the listing.

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You can do what those companies do, but for yourself, manually. Moz keeps a list of places you can have citations from – scroll through it and use that to build out your own citations.

Darren Shaw Published this article 4 Feb, 2015 Darren Shaw is the President and Founder of Whitespark, a company that builds software and provides services to help businesses with local search. He's widely regarded in the local SEO community as an innovator, one whose years of experience working with massive local data sets have given him uncommon insights into the inner workings of the world of citation-building and local search marketing. Darren has been working on the web for over 16 years and loves everything about local SEO. Share this article

Video We create straightforward, whiteboard style video slideshows, with music, pictures and text. These videos are optimized to the fullest extent, including geo-meta data. We then submit these videos to the top video hosting sources, creating high authority, legit links and citations.

This suggested to us that citations are a foundational part of a local SEO program — if your citations are borked, it may be affecting your ability to compete in local packs. But citation work is not a competitive advantage in competitive markets. This makes sense, as pretty much every business out there should have a bunch of citations. So fix your citations fast and move on to higher-value work, like getting links.

Very helpful post, Joy; I'm sure it will kickstart or reinforce a number of conversations within organizations. The suite number one is particularly good; I remember hearing about folks who had a strategy to get redundant listings at suite numbers that weren't actually there in an attempt to cover more categories at the same pin. (yikes.gif)
I do wish it ended with an action plan, of sorts, because I fear skimming the subheaders might leave folks thinking they don't need help, they just have to sign-up for Moz Local for a couple months then they can safely cancel and consider their local SEO to be "done".
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*Note: Yahoo’s local product has changed significantly over the past decade, rendering its citation value somewhat questionable. Nevertheless, it’s ideal to have a correct citation there, and while Yahoo! hasn’t done the best job of promoting its free option for correcting listing inaccuracies, the option does exist.

Citations are publications of your core business data on the Internet. They influence consumer discovery and local search engine rankings. Accurate citations positively impact rankings, reputation, and revenue, whereas inaccurate citations detract from these assets. Due to the high stakes of these assets, active location data management is a necessity for all local businesses, and you can choose from manual, semi-automated, and automated solutions for your business. You must fully research each potential option or service you consider to discover whether your investment of resources will result in meaningful value.

You can also use tools to track which of your competitors are listed on which sites, so you can cover all the bases. Covering what your competitors are doing is important. It lets you take advantage of their research and piggyback your way into some quick wins, and can be built into a longer term strategy if you’ve decided to oversee that yourself.

A citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP). Like links to your website, Google uses them when evaluating the online authority of your business. Unlike links though, citations don’t need to be linked to your business’s website in order for you to be credited for them. So, having your NAP listed in plain text is fine.

Darren Shaw founded Whitespark in 2005. The company specialized in web design and development, however, Darren’s passion and curiosity for all things local search led Whitespark to focus primarily on local SEO in 2010 with the launch of the Local Citation Finder, followed by the Local Rank Tracker.

We’re not going to lie, signing up for citations is a monotonous and time consuming task. It doesn’t take an SEO expert to sign up for citations. It can take as little as a few minutes to up to an hour to complete a citation profile, depending on how thorough the website is. Some companies have enormous questionnaires to fill out in order to get started.

Thank you for your help and the numbers – it will really help. You see, we listed one of our client’s website on around 160 local listing websites over the last year, but an analysis reveals that only 55 links are live as of today. This may go up to 60 or 65, considering the links we acquired over the last couple of months coming into play a bit late, but I guess based on your insights, we will have to consider the DA and activity of the websites before we can expect something fruitful from them.

Hey Chuck,
Great question. One of the issues I have with automated tools is just like you mentioned, they miss things and improperly label things. If you're using one of these services, always make sure you also have a human eye look it over. I would never fully leave NAP cleanup to the bots ;)
You are correct with your assumption that this doesn't matter and is nothing you should stress about. It's similar to the lawyer example Darren mentioned under Myth #2 and since the website, business name, and phone # would all match, you have nothing to be concerned about. Google is smart enough to figure it out based on that.


Actually, I believe even just the phone number might be considered a citation. A kind of an evidence could be the appearance of caller complaint directories in the “More about this place” section, when it existed long time ago. Additionally, I think one more element could be added to a citation – “category”. And it’s not necessarily the category in the sense of a business directory listing, where you hand-pick it and it is already obvious that this is the category of the business, but also in the cases of unstructured citations when the search engines need to use semantics to determine what the page on which a business citation is found is about, and thus eventually associate an appropriate category with the business. For instance, if there is an article about gardening DIY tips, and a business is mentioned a few times in it, then it is very possible that this business is a “gardener” or a “landscaper”.

Having a strong citation profile is one of the simplest ways you can optimize for local SEO. Citations are considered part of the foundational basics when it comes to local search. Once you have completed your citations you can move on to other areas like link building, engagement, content creation, and reputation management. You shouldn’t have to worry about your citation profile again, unless your business information changes – such as when you move locations, get a new phone number, change your name, and so on.

Get unstructured citations. Is your business worth visiting? Maybe you are a traveller’s destination, a local favourite hot spot, there are many opportunities to be found in all markets.

With citations such as Yelp, category is very important. Consider it carefully when signing up for the first time. Also be sure to always reference the address on your Google My Business listing, as well as your contact page. Consistency, consistency, consistency.

Building citations are fairly simple. Start your search for places to enter citations with the major places for SEO juice: Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and whatever the big review sites are in your space or industry. Then move on to the four main aggregators, which supply data to all major search engines. In the USA these are Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual.

A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms. Citations help Internet users to discover local businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings. Local businesses can actively manage many citations to ensure data accuracy.

The most important takeaway with building citations is this: quality and consistency. Use unique and original content, and be consistent with the standard information such as name, address, phone number and website.

Add your own statuses, notes, and priorities to manage your campaigns more efficiently Use CitationTracker to manage your citation building and clean-up work. Prioritize sites based on their authorityand& citation value, then add instructions and statuses for your team to follow up on.

Very helpful post, Joy; I'm sure it will kickstart or reinforce a number of conversations within organizations. The suite number one is particularly good; I remember hearing about folks who had a strategy to get redundant listings at suite numbers that weren't actually there in an attempt to cover more categories at the same pin. (yikes.gif)
I do wish it ended with an action plan, of sorts, because I fear skimming the subheaders might leave folks thinking they don't need help, they just have to sign-up for Moz Local for a couple months then they can safely cancel and consider their local SEO to be "done".


While it would be great to have one particular list, the problem is this: If that list is public and a lot of people are using it the effectiveness of links from there will start to decrease. If you've compiled a good list for your own industry, that would work far better than a standard list that someone else has put together.

Nyagoslav Zhekov just recently published a study on cancelling Yext and concluded that most of the listings either disappear or revert back to their previous incorrect state after cancelling. It seems that Yext acts as a sort of cover on top of the listing, and once Yext is cancelled, that cover is removed. So, there does seem to be some risk with cancelling Yext.

Really appreciate the great comment Nyagoslav! Those are some important additional considerations to keep in mind. The idea of an associated citation category is very interesting. With all the work that Google is doing with entities and aspects lately, it makes perfect sense that they would be using this in citation analysis. I know it seems obvious, but seeking out citations and links from pages that are ABOUT your topic is a smart tactic to spend some time on. Thanks for the comment Clark. Glad you find the post useful. 

Much ink has been spilled on developing strategies for increasing a site’s authority. It’s the core focus of SEO, after all, but as search engine algorithms continue to be developed, revised, and refined, the tactics that SEO professionals use to build authority for sites have evolved as well.

Some businesses get some, most or all of their traffic from citation sources. For example, a small restaurant doesn’t have a website, but they have an active Yelp profile with 20 reviews.

If you’ve read any introductory posts about local SEO, you’ve likely heard about how important citation consistency is. Making sure your listings have the correct name, address, and phone number on the most important sites in the local search ecosystem IS important. You want to make sure that you have one, and only one, accurate and complete listing on each of the most important sites.

We have a handy tool called the Local Citation Finder that will complete a competitive analysis based on keyphrase search or business search. When you run a keyword search, the Local Citation Finder returns the top 3 businesses that are ranking locally for that term, then finds their citations, both structured and unstructured. By analyzing these results, you can understand the competition’s citation building strategy, see where they are getting listings, try and get listed on the same sites too.

And, the old phone number thing. This is something most of us do not think about looking into. I guess if you have had your number for 15 years or more, the odds of it being in too many places on the web is minimal if not zero. But if you recently acquired it within the last 5 years, that number could have changed hands several times. Especially if you are using a cell number as your main listing and not a land line. This would be worth searching out and definitely cleaning up.

Major Local Business Data Platforms- Local business owners and marketers can create citations on a variety of important local business data platforms which exist to publish this type of data. Core platforms include Google My Business, Acxiom, Localeze/Neustar, and Infogroup. Key local business listings can also be built on popular social and review-oriented sites like Facebook and Yelp.

You can build unstructured citations by submitting editorials or other material to local newspapers, getting featured on blogs, sponsoring groups or events, or engaging in social media campaigns. Additionally, you can earn voluntary mentions of your business by publishing exceptional content, being newsworthy, or by simply being popular.

The more you get your name out there, the more likely you are to appear prominently in local searches by consumers.  This can lead to increased business volume, allowing you to build on your successes and flourish, unlocking the potential to grow your company further in the future.

Good overall review of Citation myths. I am not convinced that Suite myth is accurate or not. My advice when it comes to Suite is to use # instead of Suite or Ste.

The way you control Suite is to have it listed on the same line as the address 1 line.

Example (Good)

1800 Main Street, #A
Austin, Texas 78703

As opposed to (Bad)

1800 Main Street
#A
Austin, Texas 78703
Google My Business recognizes this as a valid address and sends the verification card with that.

Some citation services omit the 2nd address line, that is why you should always put the Suite on the first line.

If you have 2 businesses that reside at the same address, you should use Suite to make the address unique for one of the businesses. In most cases as long as the businesses are unique, you will have zero problem with this.

For Myth #2, again I am not convinced.

Consistency of name has been been a rule for a while. You are using Google as an example, but there is Bing, Apple and probably others. Maybe Google has gotten smarter, but I wouldn't assume that is the case for the other Search Engines.

I have a few clients that have citations showing 2 different businesses listed at the same location as well as variations of their names. I am not convinced that Google would be able to distinguish the variations from duplicates. Cleaning this up IMO is important.


A duplicate listing is when your business has more than one listing for a single location within an online directory. Duplicate listings often include old or incorrect and misleading information and frequently this information is "transmitted" to other sites, thus spreading the "plagued" information to other data providers and networks, ultimately reaching Google's local data cluster; which can have huge negative impacts on a business's local search rankings.

If Google doesn’t think you are relevant to what people are looking for in their area, you won’t show up on the map. If your company isn’t on that map, you are dead in the water.  If you’ve got a physical location that clients are going to visit to buy a product or service, you need local SEO.

There are several options for dealing with your core citations. You can build and manage them manually, keeping track of their ongoing status in a spreadsheet. You could also pay a third party to do this for you. Finally, you can opt for the convenience of an automated citation management service like Moz Local, which not only builds citations but also alerts you to any changes made to them and tracks your progress over time.

Long story short: citations matter. Without them, it becomes an uphill battle to get noticed on the Internet when it comes to local searches, and you’re not doing yourself or your business any favors by flying below the radar. Make sure you pay attention to the status of your citations if you want to be successful.

There are dozens if not hundreds of services out there, SEO citation building is a multi-billion dollar industry. Companies like YEXT and Yodle employ thousands of employees and have been in the citation building business for years. The collect your data including name, address, phone number, company title & description, and use their “custom platform” to sign up to 100’s of different citation sources.

David,
I doubt local citations would do much to increase the national presence of a business. I would suggest doing them if you also care about the business ranking locally in addition to nationally. For example, an SEO company might service clients nationwide but it could still help them to show up for things like "SEO Company Denver" (if they're in Denver).


I absolutely agree that the more accurate the business information is, the better. However, the myths you mention tackle extreme situations in which people are very worried that minor differences might cause huge problems and tend to spend too much time and/or money rectifying them, while the return on that investment in terms of SEO value would usually be minimal.

There are business directories, social media sites, review platforms, even blog posts and other similar sites, all of which can provide excellent resources for building search engine authority. Keep in mind, though: the more citations you have, and the further they’re spread over the Internet, the more burdensome it becomes to ensure that they’re all accurate and up-to-date.

I'm agree with Joy Howkins and personally i think that citation and classifieds have very little difference during post or submission. sometimes, i could not identify when i see a new website in classified that it is classified or business listing website or citation.
so there is any specific difference between citation and business listing websites, please share with me.
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I'm a freelance SEO consultant who specialises in SEO for small businesses. I have helped many businesses get more visitors to, and make more sales from, their websites. I can help your business achieve this too. If your business's website is under-performing, and you need an SEO service to help you reach its full potential, then contact me.

OK, now that you understand why it is useful, let’s talk about the tactics of what have to be done to get citations. I am going to tell you all the ways to build citations so that you will be able to do it yourself or pay to have it done at the lowest possible cost.

In short, citations can be defined as mentions of your website on the web, in some cases even if there is not an actual backlink to your website. Citations have been considered one of the top SEO ranking factors for a very long time, particularly with local business websites.

Listing your business in those directories is a good start, but you shouldn’t stop there. You should find out where your competitors have citations and try to replicate them. You can find your competitors’ citations by searching on Google for a competitor’s name and their postcode. To do this, search Google for the keywords you want to rank for. Look at the Google My Business page for each business on the first page of the local business listings and note down each competitor’s name and postcode.

It’s very important in Local to get the basics 100% before diving into advanced tactics as in most cases (in the UK at least) that is more than enough. Though, when it is competitive (hotels as an example) looking for more unstructured citations from high quality and relevant sources is a solid strategy (especially when everything else is being done right – earned links, reviews, website quality overall).

And here’s an example of an unstructured citation right here on this blog post! The Walrus and the Carpenter is a fantastic restaurant in Seattle located at 4743 Ballard Ave N.W.. Their phone number is 395-9227. The Whitespark team loves to eat here when we attend MozCon. Awesome seafood. Highly recommended! Note that there is no link. As described above, a mention of the business without a link is still a valuable citation. Why Citations Are Important for Local Search Rankings Verification & Trust Citations help search engines, like Google and Bing, verify that your business exists. When multiple credible sources have the same accurate information about your business, it signals to search engines that your business is legitimate. Listing your business on the prominent national and local sites helps your business create authority, establish trust, and will improve your business’ ability to rank in local search results. Prominence Local ranking algorithms used by both Google and Bing factor in citations when it comes to local search rankings. In the latest Local Search Ranking Factors survey, local search experts rated citation related factors as making up approximately 13.31% of the Top 50 factors.

Hi there codeart, thanks for asking a question! It sounds like your question might find a better home in the Q&A forum. It will get more visibility with the community, and there are many experts there who can help crowdsource an answer for you. Best wishes and hope that helps!

Once they have a list of these relevant companies, they decide how to rank them. There are several factors, including the distance to a business from where a user is, the general authority of a business’s website, and the number of positive reviews a business has on various sites. However, one of the most important ranking factors is the number of citations Google can find for a business.

Instead, focus on earning new unstructured citations from noteworthy websites and apps, as they can introduce your brand to new audiences and bring new traffic and transactions to your business. In competitive markets, valuable unstructured citations (like a mention in a major online news piece) can be competitive difference-makers.

Sometimes citation sites allow business owners to claim their listing and/or verify the accuracy of the information. When you’re claiming citation sites you must consistently use the exact same name, address and phone number. For instance, the search engines would see these two addresses as separate locations because they’re not consistent:

General sites will only take you so far, you need to find out what resources your audience uses.
For example if you are a real estate agency who specializes in one bed apartments in cities you are likely targeting young professionals who want to live in the city. University Graduates might well be one of your big demographics (I am just guessing here it would require research).
So what I would do from there is try to find some discussions from university graduates about where they want to live and how to find places to live and what sort of reviews etc they look at - this ideally would lead on to a list of websites that they consider as the first places to visit, and the starting point for your citations.


While it’s tempting to think of your website and citations carried by review sites as unconnected, nothing could be further from the truth. Gerrid Smith, CEO of digital agency Black Fin, which specializes in local SEO in the legal niche, categorically said, “To be brutally honest, the things we do on a client’s website will typically only account for about 30% of the SEO effects we’ll generate. The other 70% happens offsite.”

In local SEO accurate and quality business listings are critical factors that impact your local rankings. Investing time in cleaning up inaccurate information, duplicate listings, and creating new listings can result in positive wins for many local businesses.

Good question, I would also like to know a list of citation sites. And for the question about ratings stars in google my bussines I think that the reviews has a lot of power in the local search, but only in google (not in bing ans others). Please I'm also interested in the same question. Anybody can help us?

Strategies For Finding Citations Sources Now that you know what citations are and why they are important for local businesses, how do you go about finding local citations for your business? We have good news, Whitespark has already done the legwork for you! We have been putting together citation resources and lists for years. Here are our recommendations: #1. Start with Whitespark’s List of Top Citation Sources by Country (USA, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia). These lists were carefully curated by Nyagoslav Zhekov, one of the foremost experts in the world on citations. You can learn more about his methodology for determining the most valuable citations here. You can reference the lists on our site, or download the information in a spreadsheet. Work your way through all of these listings based on your country. (Note, business directories are more plentiful in the USA so this is why you are seeing a Top 50 list).

When signing up for new citations, be take note of your competitors permalink and category. Remember, the name of your business will determine what your URL / permalink looks like.

The preferred way to build SEO citations is to build them manually. This means navigating to a place like Yelp.com, signing up for an account, registering, and confirming the result. The pros to building them yourself manually is you won’t make any mistakes when entering in your data.

I always thought that business names in my citations should all be the same, I even corrected them, if I found out that I had rephrased the name somehow. But now I understand that it's not that strict. thanks!

Good overall review of Citation myths. I am not convinced that Suite myth is accurate or not. My advice when it comes to Suite is to use # instead of Suite or Ste.

The way you control Suite is to have it listed on the same line as the address 1 line.

Example (Good)

1800 Main Street, #A
Austin, Texas 78703

As opposed to (Bad)

1800 Main Street
#A
Austin, Texas 78703
Google My Business recognizes this as a valid address and sends the verification card with that.

Some citation services omit the 2nd address line, that is why you should always put the Suite on the first line.

If you have 2 businesses that reside at the same address, you should use Suite to make the address unique for one of the businesses. In most cases as long as the businesses are unique, you will have zero problem with this.

For Myth #2, again I am not convinced.

Consistency of name has been been a rule for a while. You are using Google as an example, but there is Bing, Apple and probably others. Maybe Google has gotten smarter, but I wouldn't assume that is the case for the other Search Engines.

I have a few clients that have citations showing 2 different businesses listed at the same location as well as variations of their names. I am not convinced that Google would be able to distinguish the variations from duplicates. Cleaning this up IMO is important.
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I previously shared a few short lists with best citation sources for other countries (besides the main English-speaking countries), and one of them was Spain. You could find the post here. You could also find lists with country-specific citation sources, one of which is for Spain, here.

Hey folks, some really solid comments here. Mike makes an interesting point regarding bulk citation services and we are already starting to see a lot of those services cropping up. That is going to mean that the quality of unstructured citations is really going to become a competitive difference maker. If we can think along the lines of Nyagoslav and look for unstructured local SEO citations from high quality and authority sites/pages that are well aligned with our business category then this can only help. If Penguin and the recent link updates have taught us anything it is that relevance is a key factor in traditional ranking so it only makes sense that this would be the case in local (if not even more so). It’s very important in Local to get the basics 100% before diving into advanced tactics as in most cases (in the UK at least) that is more than enough. Though, when it is competitive (hotels as an example) looking for more unstructured citations from high quality and relevant sources is a solid strategy (especially when everything else is being done right – earned links, reviews, website quality overall). Cheers Marcus

Zain has been in the internet marketing space for several years helping businesses of varying sizes increase their online visibility. When he’s not analyzing rankings, traffic and conversions, Zain likes to travel the world and visit exotic new countries. Zain is also the founder and CEO of Search House Media, which is a digital marketing agency. Search House Media

Claiming and optimizing citation sites is a big job and can be very time intensive. Many business owners or agencies choose to go in and manually find, claim and correct any inaccuracies in their online directories themselves. First, calculate how much time it will take you to claim and optimize the top 50 online directories (national, niche and local.) And then figure out how much your time is worth. When they think about it, most people conclude that it’s a better use of their time if they have another company do this work for them. BrightLocal offers citation claiming solutions as do many other sites. Your time is money. Use it wisely.

Let’s dive into an example that I've seen. Local.com is a site that feeds to hundreds of smaller directories on newspaper sites. If you have a listing wrong on Local.com, it might appear that your listing is incorrect on hundreds of directories. For example, these three listings are on different domains, but if you look at the pages they're identical and they all say “Local.com” at the top:

Thanks for this, I like the usage of Unstructured and structured citations. I’ve never thought of it that way. I think that Unstructured citations are used often too heavily for over optimization in Local SEO. Anyway, Great content, and thanks again.

Hi Darren, Thank you for your help and the numbers – it will really help. You see, we listed one of our client’s website on around 160 local listing websites over the last year, but an analysis reveals that only 55 links are live as of today. This may go up to 60 or 65, considering the links we acquired over the last couple of months coming into play a bit late, but I guess based on your insights, we will have to consider the DA and activity of the websites before we can expect something fruitful from them. Thanks again – hope to talk to you sometime soon again 

If you want to keep going into the Tier 3 and Tier 4, enjoy yourself. It’s not going to hurt, but it’s also not going to make or break your SEO. A few incorrect listings on some of these less important sites are no big deal.

It's definitely important to ensure accuracy with your citation listings as noted above. The most important myth busting point to drive home is that the only links you need to build for local sites are citation type backlinks. The strategy doesn't even sound like it would hold value. If I told you to stop getting backlinks, just focus on citation type backlinking, you'd probably be hoping I were right because of the diminishing workload you'd take on. Google is making it harder to rank, not easier. Relevancy is key.


David,
I doubt local citations would do much to increase the national presence of a business. I would suggest doing them if you also care about the business ranking locally in addition to nationally. For example, an SEO company might service clients nationwide but it could still help them to show up for things like "SEO Company Denver" (if they're in Denver).
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Darren Shaw is the President and Founder of Whitespark, a company that builds software and provides services to help businesses with local search. He's widely regarded in the local SEO community as an innovator, one whose years of experience working with massive local data sets have given him uncommon insights into the inner workings of the world of citation-building and local search marketing. Darren has been working on the web for over 16 years and loves everything about local SEO.

We use Yext to achieve speed and efficiency in the distribution of our client’s local business data.  With Yext, you get instant access to 55+ local business directories.  Your local business data will also be distributed to major mapping applications such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo, & Yelp.

You can find a list of the most important local citation sources by country (for US, UK, Canada, and Australia) here. You can also find the most important citation sources by industry (for the same countries) here, and by city - here.

Tired of doing things by hand, but you understand the foundational concepts? Well, its time to use Scrapebox. This nifty little tool will automate the process for you.

In order to keep its users coming back, Google’s search algorithm is doing its darndest to figure out how to provide the very best information to the searcher. To make sure the search results they offer are relevant, Google first tries to determine whether the searcher is looking for a local business.

One of the biggest reasons why most local SEO citation audits, optimizations, and cleanup services take so long is because people never have their information handy. When signing up for new citations, keep everything organized. There are a few ways to look at local SEO citation organization. The easiest way is to use the same username / email and password combination. This is probably the easiest way, but the least secure. If not, at least store your information in a spreadsheet. Your future self will thank you!

One of the search terms I was targeting returned around 6/10 listings that were all local directories. So naturally, these were the directories I had to target. They were by far the most relevant, brought in a lot of referrals and even if they didn't click through to the clients site, they were still getting calls and bookings from these directories. The beauty with these listings was that when I published the listing, they appeared at the top of the directories for the relevant categories.

And just like links, they’re useful for people, too. It’s not just search engines that browse through local business directories, looking for a plumber, cafe, carpet retailer, chiropractor or other business in their area. That’s how a lot of businesses get found these days.

The Wider Web- Supplementary citations can either be built or earned on a wide variety of publications, including blogs, news sites, apps, maps, government databases, and more. You can either intentionally develop these citations for your business, or simply earn them based on merit and public interest/sharing of information.

Good question, I would also like to know a list of citation sites. And for the question about ratings stars in google my bussines I think that the reviews has a lot of power in the local search, but only in google (not in bing ans others). Please I'm also interested in the same question. Anybody can help us?


For example, Yext has a fully automated solution to control citations in its network of 60 or so big and small local search sites; MozLocal focuses on automatically getting your data into the aggregators and several of the big local search sites and reporting. Advice Local takes a manual approach to updating, claiming and fixing citations on hundreds of big and small local listings sites in combination with using publisher APIs where available. And so on.

In 2013, if you did a quick search for “boca raton restaurants” it yielded a SERP primarily populated by citations. 100% of the listings for the majority of these local keywords on page 1 were citations. That’s right, not one actual restaurant website. Performing the same search query in 2017 reveals similar results:

Very often at the start of any new SEO campaign, begins a discussion about how to build citations. There are times when some citations already exist, other times there are no citations (clean slate) and other times when most citations are already built. There are a few different ways to get or build citations.

Track organic, mobile, and maps rankings on Google, Google Maps, Yahoo, Yahoo local, Bing, and Bing Local. View search rankings across ‘000s of locations in one report and benchmark your progress against your main competitors.

As far as the suite number is concerned, it has no SEO value as part of the address. As Joy mentions in the article, Google (and other search engines that collect and compile structured and unstructured business data from a large number of sources) do not pay that much attention at the actual words used in the address field as compared to how the address location can be translated in structured terms - which is usually done using the Geo coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the address. The suite number doesn't affect the lat-long of a place, so it is in practice excluded from the NAP consistency equation. However, you are totally right that from a user's point of view, or when postcard verification needs to be done, having the full and accurate address that includes the suite/unit/apartment number is essential. Otherwise problems, similar to the ones I mention in my answer to myth #6 might occur.

Getting your citations accurately published in these four data sources can help you scale the distribution of your local business data across hundreds, even thousands, of local business end points.  And since you can control the accuracy of your local business data in Moz Local, you can control the accuracy of your business data in these four major sources.

If you ask a local SEO marketing company whether your business needs their services or not, they will most likely say yes no matter what. They’re happy to do work for your business. However, you might be paying money for something that you don’t need. When you understand local SEO, you’ll be able to decide what you don’t need, what you can do on your own, and what you should delegate. My hope for all small businesses is that when you hire someone, you’ll know enough about marketing that you will be able to request specific services proven to be effective for businesses like yours.

It's definitely important to ensure accuracy with your citation listings as noted above. The most important myth busting point to drive home is that the only links you need to build for local sites are citation type backlinks. The strategy doesn't even sound like it would hold value. If I told you to stop getting backlinks, just focus on citation type backlinking, you'd probably be hoping I were right because of the diminishing workload you'd take on. Google is making it harder to rank, not easier. Relevancy is key.

General sites will only take you so far, you need to find out what resources your audience uses.
For example if you are a real estate agency who specializes in one bed apartments in cities you are likely targeting young professionals who want to live in the city. University Graduates might well be one of your big demographics (I am just guessing here it would require research).
So what I would do from there is try to find some discussions from university graduates about where they want to live and how to find places to live and what sort of reviews etc they look at - this ideally would lead on to a list of websites that they consider as the first places to visit, and the starting point for your citations.
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We’ve defined citations as any web-based reference of your local business’ name, address, and phone number, and we’ve explained how they affect search engine visibility and rankings. Now, let’s outline a plan for building and earning these vitally important references.

I’ve worked with a lot of SEO’s in the past few years, and the general attitude when working with local businesses is to “build citations.” This is a one-track mindset that you need to build as many relevant citations as possible, in order to please the gods of Google. This is a really outdated mindset that must be shed from your repertoire.

And on and on and on. The business is booming. I imagine, as an industry, every month there are thousands of hours and millions of dollars spent by Local marketer types (along with several entire villages in the Philippines) just doing citation work.

Yes, it is. But it works a little differently than traditional SEO. “Long distance” SEO is increasingly about content optimization and integration, while local SEO is far more about citation building – getting your name and address mentioned by local sites with authority. David Daniels, in an article on Search Engine Watch, calls citation building “the new link building.”

While it would be great to have one particular list, the problem is this: If that list is public and a lot of people are using it the effectiveness of links from there will start to decrease. If you've compiled a good list for your own industry, that would work far better than a standard list that someone else has put together.


The good news is, even if your citations aren’t consistent, you can fix them. Just round up the citations you already have using a tool like Moz Local. Then go through site by site and update them.

What a fantastic post, Joy! And I completely love Darren Shaw's queen bee analogy. It is really creative and descriptive of the situation.
I'd add one thing about the small variants in name. Completely agree that this is unlikely to impact SEO, but in terms of branding cohesion, I'd say you do want customers to see the same version of your brand in as many cases as possible. I've seen cases where there are so many differences, even on a company's own website, in the way in which a business is referring to itself that it's confusing. Are they The Green Tree Guys, or The Guys, or The Tree Guys? So, while I wouldn't suggest wasting time on low level citations with small discrepancies, I'd urge a business to be sure their branding is as consistent as possible across their website, core citations and social references, for the sake of maximizing the memorability and clarity of the brand.
This article is one for the books! What a super piece.
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Hi Susmit, it depends on the sites you submitted to. If they seemed to be of relatively decent quality, I’d expect to see about 70% to 80% of them go live. If of questionable quality, maybe 50%. Many of the lower quality sites aren’t really managed by anyone, and they just don’t care. They set up the site with a feed of local businesses from one of the aggregators, then never bother with additions, updates, removals. They just have the site for lead gen and hope to get a trickle of leads from it.

It's definitely important to ensure accuracy with your citation listings as noted above. The most important myth busting point to drive home is that the only links you need to build for local sites are citation type backlinks. The strategy doesn't even sound like it would hold value. If I told you to stop getting backlinks, just focus on citation type backlinking, you'd probably be hoping I were right because of the diminishing workload you'd take on. Google is making it harder to rank, not easier. Relevancy is key.
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Thanks so much for this post Darren. As Nyagoslav said, it was very much needed. Unstructured citations (to me) will always be an interesting and exciting part of Local Search. The reason I like them is that they are what separate the men from the boys. A little bit like with link building, it takes quite a bit of creativity to hunt down some of the best unstructured citations. I have to say the the Local Citation Finder is absolutely invaluable for this. With the tool, we can see when a competitor has gone and gotten (whether deliberately or not) a highly valuable citation source from an authoritative site. This makes the LCF very powerful for us! Thank you to you and your team Darren!

Along with links and reviews, citations are a primary factor that Google uses when deciding on which order to rank businesses in their local search results. To them, it’s logical that a business that’s mentioned a lot online deserves a higher ranking than one that’s hardly mentioned at all, especially if those mentions are on websites that are relevant in terms of location and/or topic.

If you run local SEO campaigns for small businesses, you have certainly heard of "citations." Local citations, as the name suggests, are mentions of your business across the web on local directories, websites or associations. These have to be on either relevant or authoritative websites or portals (preferably both). Now let's take the concept one step further. Citations are mentions of a business along with the NAP (this stands for Business Name, Business Address and Business Phone Number). This ensures that search engines can accurately collect information on your specific business. With so many company names similar to each other, search engines need information that is unique to your business entity. And what better piece of information then an address and a phone number of a company along with the business name? The IRS and other governing bodies use this information as well, so its a pretty standard data collection process.

About the Author: Zain Shah Zain has been in the internet marketing space for several years helping businesses of varying sizes increase their online visibility. When he’s not analyzing rankings, traffic and conversions, Zain likes to travel the world and visit exotic new countries. Zain is also the founder and CEO of Search House Media, which is a digital marketing agency. Search House Media

#1. Start with Whitespark’s List of Top Citation Sources by Country (USA, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia). These lists were carefully curated by Nyagoslav Zhekov, one of the foremost experts in the world on citations. You can learn more about his methodology for determining the most valuable citations here. You can reference the lists on our site, or download the information in a spreadsheet. Work your way through all of these listings based on your country. (Note, business directories are more plentiful in the USA so this is why you are seeing a Top 50 list).

An unstructured citation occurs on any website or app that isn’t specifically structured for the publication of local business listings. For example, mentions in a news article, a blog post, or on a social media platform act as a reference to your business, just like a structured citation.

Verified Citations: A citation that has been verified by email, phone, or postcard. Manta.com for example, requires you to verify your business listing by phone before you listing goes live. This helps validate the real businesses vs the fake ones. Other websites such as Google My Business requires either a phone call verification or a post card verification.

In the early days of Google Places/+Local/My Business, it was likely helpful for Google to use local citations as a partial proxy for links, as most local businesses had few or no backlinks. This started a gold rush for local citation work with lots of competitors. Here is but a partial list of the likely thousands of companies that offer local citation-related services (in alpha order):

#2. Now look for citations based on your Industry/Business Category (think Accountant, Lawyer, Coffee Shop) and the City your business operates in. We’ve done hours of research, and searched hundreds of terms to find the best citation sources based on business category and location.

A complete local citation should include the company name, address, and phone number, which is referred to as your “NAP”. A citation that does not include all three of these is sometimes referred to as a partial citation.

Professional SEO’s know that building citations is not a race, or something to skimp on. There are no “points” for getting them done as quickly as possible. Furthermore, automated tools and services aren’t able to give proper attention to the details of each individual directory. Most of them have standard fields to fill out then move on to the next.

For a citation to help with your local SEO strategy, it’s important that it exactly matches the NAP on your website and on your Google My Business page. What format you choose for your citations isn’t important, but picking one format and sticking with it is. You need to be 100% consistent in the name (abbreviations? Ltd?), address (suite number? floor?), and phone number (+44? spaces or no spaces?) used when building citations.

These tools can search online for you, identifying places where your citation isn’t uniform or where it’s missing, making it easier to target your approach to building and managing your citations. These citation checkers and citation finders can often be enough to keep your citations organized and in line, especially if you don’t have a large volume of citations to manage.

Loved this article Joy! We run into these myths all the time in the industry. You do a great job collecting the most pervasive ones and dispelling them.
We will be forwarding this to clients who get confused about where to focus their time, energy, and money. You're going to help a lot of people get bigger bang for their buck with this!
Keep myth busting!


Thanks for the very useful information in your article.
One major point of confusion in my experience is what happens when you have a service area business and indicate so in GMB and in the citation sources that allow you to do so. These sources then properly omit your street address from your citation, while all other citation sources will list your street address, because they don't give you the option to indicate that you are a service area business and thereby hide your street address. If you then do a scan of such a business using an automated citation service, they will flag the citations that don't list your street address, i.e., the few that are correct, as incorrect and offer to "clean them up." Unfortunately, I don't want these "cleaned up," so I'm somewhat afraid to use these services.
Perhaps you could address this situation in the form of a myth #8: does having two forms of citations for a single business, with and without street addresses, create a problem with Google, or not? And, as a followup, what is the best approach a service area business can take when using a automated citation service that may try to "cleanup" the properly formatted service area address listings that omit the street address?
One possibly encouraging sign is the GMB has an input on the backend to enter the full address of your business, including the street, along with a checkbox to hide it. So it must be aware of both formats…


Great stuff, Darren. And the 2nd post in the same month, no less. Now we’re talkin’! I really liked this point: ” It also helps you understand the competition’s citation building strategy by showing you where they are getting unstructured citations as well.” Methinks you could write a great post on all the different (or at least the most-common) strategies for citation building – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Google My Business recognizes this as a valid address and sends the verification card with that.Some citation services omit the 2nd address line, that is why you should always put the Suite on the first line.If you have 2 businesses that reside at the same address, you should use Suite to make the address unique for one of the businesses. In most cases as long as the businesses are unique, you will have zero problem with this.For Myth #2, again I am not convinced. Consistency of name has been been a rule for a while. You are using Google as an example, but there is Bing, Apple and probably others. Maybe Google has gotten smarter, but I wouldn't assume that is the case for the other Search Engines. I have a few clients that have citations showing 2 different businesses listed at the same location as well as variations of their names. I am not convinced that Google would be able to distinguish the variations from duplicates. Cleaning this up IMO is important.

Truth: Google doesn’t even recognize suite numbers for a whopping majority of Google business listings. Even though you enter a suite number in Google My Business, it doesn’t translate into the "Suite #" field in Google MapMaker — it simply gets eliminated. Google also pays more attention to the location (pin) marker of the business when it comes to determining the actual location and less to the actual words people enter in as the address, as there can be multiple ways to name a street address. Google’s Possum update recently introduced a filter for search queries that is based on location. We’ve seen this has to do with the address itself and how close other businesses in the same industry are to your location. Whether or not you have a suite number in Google My Business has nothing to do with it.

The more places your business information appears online, the more prominent your business appears to Google. It makes sense. If the search engine algorithms see that your business is mentioned on hundreds of websites, compared to competition that is only listed on a few dozen, this can make you seem like a more popular business, and give you a boost in the rankings.

Truth: SEO companies use this as a scare tactic, and it works very well. They have a small business pay them for citation cleanup. They’ll do a scan of your incorrect data and send you a list of hundreds of directories that have your information wrong. This causes you to gasp and panic and instantly realize you must hire them to spend hours cleaning all this up, as it must be causing the ranking of your listing on Google to tank.

A citation is your business name, full address, and phone number. Established companies have citations all over the internet: on their website, in relevant directories, and even on forums where a past customer might be recommending them to someone else. These citations are good indicators that your business is reputable. Below is an example of a Google search that returns a “local result.” There are more results below this list, but these are the three that most people are going to look at.  How does Google figure out relevant searches to show?

Over the years, Google’s definition of a “local document” has most certainly evolved. And as usual, local SEO practitioners will have to continue to track that evolution so they can focus on what’s most important for their clients’ success.

While it would be great to have one particular list, the problem is this: If that list is public and a lot of people are using it the effectiveness of links from there will start to decrease. If you've compiled a good list for your own industry, that would work far better than a standard list that someone else has put together.
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I always thought that business names in my citations should all be the same, I even corrected them, if I found out that I had rephrased the name somehow. But now I understand that it's not that strict. thanks!
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You are correct with your assumption that this doesn't matter and is nothing you should stress about. It's similar to the lawyer example Darren mentioned under Myth #2 and since the website, business name, and phone # would all match, you have nothing to be concerned about. Google is smart enough to figure it out based on that.

Great article Joy!

I've had some outstanding success with Myth 5:
One of the search terms I was targeting returned around 6/10 listings that were all local directories. So naturally, these were the directories I had to target. They were by far the most relevant, brought in a lot of referrals and even if they didn't click through to the clients site, they were still getting calls and bookings from these directories. The beauty with these listings was that when I published the listing, they appeared at the top of the directories for the relevant categories.
What I did find though is that after around 5 weeks, the listing jumped from position 9 to position 2 for a local search " + ". The " + near me" search listing dropped to position 13 due to the local directories having more authority for a "near me" search and the map listing rose to position 1.

All in all, I'd say local directory listings that were relevant and appeared for the keywords we were targeting was actually a huge success. They increased the off-site SEO, referrals, call volume and boosted the listings rankings.


Unstructured Citations Generally speaking, an unstructured citation is your business information (NAP) on any other site that’s not specifically a business listing directory. Common examples where you’ll find unstructured citations are blogs, magazine/newspaper sites, wikis, and so on. Here’s an unstructured citation example for the same restaurant on seattletimes.com:

One major point of confusion in my experience is what happens when you have a service area business and indicate so in GMB and in the citation sources that allow you to do so. These sources then properly omit your street address from your citation, while all other citation sources will list your street address, because they don't give you the option to indicate that you are a service area business and thereby hide your street address. If you then do a scan of such a business using an automated citation service, they will flag the citations that don't list your street address, i.e., the few that are correct, as incorrect and offer to "clean them up." Unfortunately, I don't want these "cleaned up," so I'm somewhat afraid to use these services.

Do you have a Google My Business listing (Google+ Local page) for your business? If no, go get one now. When you have a listing on Google My Business it means your business now has a higher chance to show up in Google searches that are related to your business, location, product offers, and services. Your company also has the potential to show up in Google Maps, Google+, and organic search results.

In this module, we create careful, manual submissions, adding all media and content which again results in high authority, legit links and citations. We submit to powerful & authoritative social media sites.

What a fantastic post, Joy! And I completely love Darren Shaw's queen bee analogy. It is really creative and descriptive of the situation.
I'd add one thing about the small variants in name. Completely agree that this is unlikely to impact SEO, but in terms of branding cohesion, I'd say you do want customers to see the same version of your brand in as many cases as possible. I've seen cases where there are so many differences, even on a company's own website, in the way in which a business is referring to itself that it's confusing. Are they The Green Tree Guys, or The Guys, or The Tree Guys? So, while I wouldn't suggest wasting time on low level citations with small discrepancies, I'd urge a business to be sure their branding is as conhttps://www.fiverr.com/arifulislam958/local-business-listing-google-map-citations
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