Local Citation Building SEO Strategies For Small Business




If you’re running a local business, setting your focus on local citation building is critical. A lot of your online marketing efforts will focus on getting the essential information about your business in front of the people that matter… i.e. your prospective customers and adding your business to local directories is an important task to undertake.

Often called a “NAP” for Name, Address, and Phone number, local citations normally feature the basic contact information for a business.

This is the information you would typically find in a business listing like Google My Business, Thomson Local or on Yelp.

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What are local citations and why are they important?

A local citation, or a business citation, is a reference to your business’s general contact information.

They can appear all around the web, including directory sites, websites, social media platforms, maps (such as Google Maps or Apple Maps), and anywhere else where users could be seeking information about local businesses.

Local citations not only help users find local companies but can also play a vital role in SEO, as they build credibility with search engines via off-page optimisation.

Search engine crawlers scan online citations to help validate the legitimacy of local businesses so that it can rank their websites for important location-based keywords in their niches.

When Google gives your business more authority that’s how you rank higher in local Google results.

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What does a local citation look like?

They can look different depending on the website, but they will always have those three (NAP) basic pieces of information. However, it’s always helpful to include the website URL, a contact email, and business category.

There are three main types of local citations that should be used together to maximise the impact that they have on SEO rankings.

  • Local Business Data Platforms– the first tier of local citations is posting business data on the biggest and most important local business platforms that list local companies and their most relevant information. Some of the sites that should be posted on include Google My Business, Infogroup, and Yelp, but there are plenty others that you could consider.
  • Geographical or Industry Directories– next, you should post your local citations on local sites like your Chamber of Commerce or professional associations.
  • Various Websites– finally, to maximize the potential of citation building, you should post to blogs, websites, social media, maps, and anywhere else you deem relevant.

Citation styles can also differ. Let’s use Pimlico Plumbers, a recoginsed firm of plumbers in London. It appears that they have set up local citations in two key ways: structured citations and unstructured citations.

Structured Citation

Structured citations are business citations listed on websites and directories that are built specifically for this purpose. This could be Yell, Facebook, Google My Business, Thomson Local and more.

Example of local citation building for small business owners

(source: Facebook)

Local Citation Building


As you can see both local citations have the name, address, and phone number (NAP). Their Facebook listing also has their web site address and business category – if these options are given, it’s best to take advantage of them.

Note: You can see that the name of the business is listed differently in the two listings. That’s okay as long as the majority of the information is consistent. Google is smart enough to piece together that Pimlico Plumbers and Pimlico Plumbing & Heating Merchants are the same things when the rest of the NAP is consistent.

I would normally recommend though that you stay consistent when adding your NAP details to the local citation sites.

Now let’s look at some unstructured citations.

Unstructured Citation

An unstructured citation is simply a mention of a business, with at least the NAP level of information, anywhere on the web that isn’t intended to be a structured business listing.

This can be a news article, feature on wikipedia or even a blog post article from an SEO agency such as this one <img draggable=” />…

Pimlico Plumbers are the largest independent service & maintenance company in London. They are a multi-skilled, multi-trade, workforce of over 250 and offer an unequalled response time proving that size really does matter. Their Call Centre is manned 24/7, 365 days a year and serves customers up to and beyond the M25. You can reach them on 020 7928 8888 or visit them at 1 Sail Street, London SE11 6NQ.

Even without linking to their webpage, this is still a valuable local citation that will help Google see Pimlico Plumbers as a more credible business, thus ranking higher in local searches.

Both structured and unstructured citations are a big help to getting your webpage ranked higher on Google.

How do you build a local citation?

Local citation building is straightforward and something you’ve probably already begun for your business. Take Yelp for example. Most business in their first few weeks will take to listing themselves on Yelp, adding the correct address, phone number, website, and a logo or storefront photo to help customers find them.

But while this information is undoubtedly essential, nowadays it’s necessary to add more details so that users can gain a better understanding of what the business is about and can have more options for reaching it.

Some additional info that should be present includes a website address, a contact email, a short business description, geo-coordinates, working hours, business categories, and user-generated reviews that provide more insight into what the business is all about.

To start building your own citations first prioritize reaching out to those platforms used by customers most often, then move down the list we’ve provided below:

Priority 1:

  1. Google: Set up your Google My Business here (this will list you on Google Maps)
  2. Bing: Set up your Bing Places listing here
  3. Apple Maps: Email them here, share your NAP and ask them to set up your listing

Priority 2:

  1. Yelp
  2. Facebook
  3. Yell.com
  4. Yahoo!
  5. Thomson Local

Priority 3:

  1. Foursquare
  2. Mapquest
  3. Manta
  4. Local.com
  5. 192.com
  6. UK Small Business Directory

Priority 4:

  1. Look for more localised listings like local newspapers
  2. Find industry-specific business listing sites like theplumbingandheatingregister.co.uk 

The list goes on and on. If you have any questions about setting up your local citations please reach out and we’ll be happy to help you with this further.

What makes an effective local citation?

Consistency in the data

Make sure your NAP is always the same – this helps Google identify and group us your local citations. Google is intelligent and can understand a few differences in a name (Acme Ltd. vs Acme Limited) and it knows ‘st.’ means street.

But if the address or phone numbers are different it will cause a problem, so be sure that information is identical.

Take advantage of all available fields

If the listing allows you to add a contact email address and webpage, absolutely add it. If it allows you to add a logo, picture, or industry absolutely add it. The richer the listing the most authoritative you will appear to Google and users alike.

The number of citations

Google likes to see consistency and recent activity. If you are constantly adding additional SEO citations to different websites Google will see that your business is still active and is more likely to rank you high in search results.

The quality of the listings

Above, we’ve listed out the priorities for building local citations. It is more important for you to claim and clean up your listings on the most authoritative and used sites first, then you can continue on with adding additional business citations.

Local Citations Summary

Local citation building plays a vital role in any comprehensive SEO strategy for local businesses.

But in order to achieve the best results with your local citation building efforts, you must not only understand how to craft citations that are appealing to both prospective customers and the search engines but also know the most important sites to post them and how to effectively monitor their activity and implement changes.

Now that you know the basics of SEO citation building for local businesses, it’s time to go try it out and measure the results.

Here at AWC we know this process can feel like a lot of set up and upkeep, but that’s why we’re here to help you.

We are passionate about SEO and growing our client’s businesses. We would love to help you build your local footprint and track the growth from this work.

Ready to nail your local citation building?

For more information on SEO tips and resources, check out our FREE 5-Day Local SEO Game Plan!

About the author, Andrew Wallis

From two decades in the corporate world to finding my freedom in fitness, I'm known as Braveheart—a Personal Trainer turned marketing maestro for Fitness Professionals. I'm all about unlocking potential and empowering Fit Pros to grow their businesses. 'Finding Your Freedom' isn't just a mantra; it's a collective journey I embark upon with my clients.

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