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Local citation building process

The Complete Guide to Local Citation Building for Higher Local SEO Rankings

Getting found online by potential local customers searching for your products or services can make or break your business. But with more competition than ever before, how do you make sure your business stands out in local search results?

The answer lies in local citations – mentions of your business name, address and phone number across the web. Citations act as votes of confidence to search engines like Google that your business is legit, relevant and located where you say it is. The more high-quality local citations you have, the better chance your business has of ranking highly in local pack listings and maps.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll uncover everything you need to know about building local citations to boost your local SEO. You’ll learn what major citation sources to focus on, step-by-step instructions for compiling citations, best practices to avoid pitfalls, how to monitor your progress, and much more.

By the end, you’ll have a complete citation building blueprint you can follow to increase your local visibility and attract more customers from search. So whether you’re a small business owner, marketing professional or SEO expert, you’ll find actionable information to improve your local SEO citation profile. Let’s dive in!

What Are Local Citations and Why Are They Important?

Local citations are essential for any business trying to rank highly in local search results. But what exactly are local citations, and why are they so crucial for local SEO?

What Are Local Citations?

Local citations are mentions of your business name, address and phone number across various websites, directories, review sites and other online properties. Some examples of where you want your business to be cited include:

  • Google My Business
  • Apple Maps
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Yellowpages.com
  • Industry directories
  • Local chamber sites
  • Review sites like TripAdvisor

Essentially, a local citation is any place online that your basic business information appears. Each separate listing of your business NAP (name, address, phone number) counts as a citation.

Why Are Local Citations Important?

Local citations serve several key purposes:

  • Signals to search engines about your business location and industry. The more sites that have your accurate NAP, the easier it is for Google to confirm your physical location. This helps you show up for relevant local searches.
  • Helps search engines identify your business as legitimate. Multiple consistent listings build trust and authority for your business. This improves local SEO credibility.
  • Can improve local pack rankings. The more authoritative, relevant citations you have, the better chance your business has of ranking in the coveted 3-pack of the local search results.
  • More citations make your listing seem more reliable. Think of it like reviews. The more positive reviews a business has, the more real and trustworthy it seems. Citations work the same way.

In short, robust local citations signal to search engines that your business deserves prominence in local results. Given how vital local SEO is, proper citation building should be a top priority.

Here is a 400 word section on the main citation sources to focus on:

Main Citation Sources to Focus On

When starting your local citation building, it’s important to focus on the citation sources that matter most. With limited time and resources, you want to tackle the heavy hitters first before moving down the list.

Here are the top 10 citation sources that should be part of your initial outreach:

Google My Business

This is the foundation of your citation profile. Google My Business listings contain your NAP and appear prominently in Google’s local pack. Optimizing this listing should be step #1.

Apple Maps

Apple’s mapping service is used across iOS devices. Your Apple Maps listing aids with local SEO on Apple platforms.

Bing Local

Microsoft’s directory contains business listings leveraged by their search engine Bing. You want visibility here to cover Bing local searches.

Facebook

Many local businesses now allow customers to check-in or leave reviews on their Facebook page. This is a citation signal Facebook can use.

Yelp

Yelp is a top site for local reviews and research. Ranking well and getting reviews here can drive customer actions.

Yellow Pages

The digital Yellow Pages still receives millions of visitors monthly searching for local businesses. A properly optimized listing is important.

Acxiom

This leading data aggregator provides business data to hundreds of directories and sites. Getting properly listed in Acxiom can massively expand your citations.

Factual

Factual also aggregates business listing data for a variety of sites. Having accurate info here leads to stronger citation consistency.

Infogroup

Another large-scale aggregator of local business listings that you need to be included in.

Neustar Localeze

A data management platform that syndicates listing data. Yet another important aggregation source for citations.

Focusing on these top aggregators and directories will provide the widest coverage as your citations get syndicated across the web. As you expand your efforts, tackle industry-specific, local and regional directories as well. But your initial emphasis should be on the major players above.

How to Build Citations for Your Business

Now that you know what key sources to target, let’s get into the specifics of actually building citations. Follow this step-by-step guide to compile a strong foundation of quality citations:

Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

This is the most important starting point. Make sure your Google My Business profile has:

  • Accurate business name, full address and phone number
  • Categories and services that reflect what you do
  • Detailed business descriptions
  • Good quality photos depicting your business
  • Responses to all reviews from customers

Follow Google’s guidelines to optimize your listing for maximum visibility.

Register Your Business on Key Sites

Search for your business on top citation sources like Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Apple Maps, Yellow Pages etc. If no listing exists, create and fully complete your business profile on each site.

If you find existing listings, claim them by verifying you are the business owner.

Search and Claim Existing Listings

Conduct searches for your business name on Google, Bing and other sites to uncover any listings you didn’t know about. Claim these by having the directory verify your business.

Remove Duplicate Listings

Look for duplicate versions of your business listed incorrectly. Use directory removal request forms to consolidate dupes into a single listing.

Add All Key Business Details

Ensure your listings have your full business name, current address, phone number, website URL, hours of operation and any other important info. This helps citations be consistent.

Make Sure Listings Are Consistent

Check that your NAP details, categories and other information match across citation sources. Inconsistency damages credibility.

By following this structured game plan, you’ll build a strong foundation of optimized local citations that search engines can trust.

Best Practices for Citation Building

As you compile local citations, keep these best practices in mind to ensure you build them the right way:

Focus on Quality Over Quantity

Don’t just try to accumulate as many citations as possible. Instead, focus on getting listed on authoritative, high-quality citation sources relevant to your business.

10 citations on highly-ranked directories are better than 100 citations on spammy or irrelevant sites. Prioritize influential industry-specific and regional directories over generic business listings.

Get Citations in a Steady, Natural Way

Take the time to manually build and earn each citation properly. Sudden surges in low-quality citations can seem unnatural and raise red flags.

Build citations at a measured pace over several months. Let them accumulate organically to appear more credible.

Monitor Listings Regularly

Set reminders to check your key listings every 1-2 months. Update any changed business info, check for duplicate listings, read new reviews and interact with customers.

Monitoring ensures your citations stay optimized, helping sustain your local SEO efforts.

Build Both Online and Offline Citations

Online directories and review sites are vital, but don’t neglect offline sources like chambers of commerce, trade groups and local business directories.

These associations validate and reinforce your legitimacy in the local community.

By being selective with sources and diligent in monitoring your listings, you gain citations that search engines trust to recommend your business.

Best Practices for Citation Building

As you compile local citations, keep these best practices in mind to ensure you build them the right way:

Focus on Quality Over Quantity

Don’t just try to accumulate as many citations as possible. Instead, focus on getting listed on authoritative, high-quality citation sources relevant to your business.

10 citations on highly-ranked directories are better than 100 citations on spammy or irrelevant sites. Prioritize influential industry-specific and regional directories over generic business listings.

Get Citations in a Steady, Natural Way

Take the time to manually build and earn each citation properly. Sudden surges in low-quality citations can seem unnatural and raise red flags.

Build citations at a measured pace over several months. Let them accumulate organically to appear more credible.

Monitor Listings Regularly

Set reminders to check your key listings every 1-2 months. Update any changed business info, check for duplicate listings, read new reviews and interact with customers.

Monitoring ensures your citations stay optimized, helping sustain your local SEO efforts.

Build Both Online and Offline Citations

Online directories and review sites are vital, but don’t neglect offline sources like chambers of commerce, trade groups and local business directories.

These associations validate and reinforce your legitimacy in the local community.

By being selective with sources and diligent in monitoring your listings, you gain citations that search engines trust to recommend your business.

Avoiding Common Citation Pitfalls

As you build local citations, beware of these common mistakes that can undermine your efforts:

Duplicate Listings

If search engines find multiple conflicting listings for your business, it damages credibility. Be vigilant in consolidating and removing duplicates.

Keyword Stuffing

Don’t overload your business name, address or phone number fields with unrelated keywords. This is seen as deceptive.

Inconsistent NAP

Keep your business name, address and phone number completely consistent across citations. Any variation causes confusion.

Buying Bulk, Low-Quality Citations

Avoid the temptation to buy hundreds of cheap, low-authority citations. These get little value and can even provoke penalties.

Listing Outside Service Area

Don’t list your business in citations for areas you don’t serve. Search engines will think you’re trying to scam local customers.

By properly filling out directory listings, monitoring for duplicates, and favoring relevance over volume, you avoid red flags. Remember – trustworthy, consistent citations are the goal.

Stay patient, and let your citation profile develop organically over time. Proper local SEO takes dedication, but the customer rewards are worth it. Avoid shortcuts to build a legitimate profile that search engines embrace.

Measuring the Impact of Citations

Once you’ve put in the work to build citations, how do you measure the benefits? Here are some ways to track the impact on your local SEO:

Rank Tracking Software

Use tools like Moz, BrightLocal or Whitespark to monitor your local pack rankings for target keywords over time. Improved rankings indicate citations are helping.

Local Pack Visibility

Conduct test searches for your top service keywords in Google Maps. Check if you appear more prominently in local packs than before.

Website Traffic

Look in Google Analytics to see if your website gets more traffic from local searches. More citations should drive increased visits.

Phone Calls and Store Visits

Monitor your phone logs and customer visits to see if call/walk-in volume from local searches goes up.

Online Reviews

If you appear on more relevant review sites, you may receive more online reviews over time as well.

Tracking these metrics illustrates the customer visibility and engagement payoff from an optimized local citation profile.

Conclusion

Local citations are a foundational element of robust local SEO. By taking the time to properly build and manage citations on authoritative directories, review sites and aggregator platforms, you can significantly improve your visibility in local search results. This leads to more customers finding and choosing your business. Use the strategies outlined in this guide to start building your citations today.

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