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Citations & Local SEO: The Ultimate Guide

Read the ultimate guide on Citation and local SEO

Are you new to citations management? Citations are a key ranking factor for local search. Learn the ins and outs of how to manage and optimize citations. Citations are one of the key factors in local SEO. Many new SEOs begin their careers managing citations for stakeholders.

When set up correctly, citations can be really easy to manage and can lead to improved local rankings. However, if done incorrectly, citations can be a nightmare to clean up. In this guide, I’ll walk you through every facet of citations to help you improve your local SEO strategy.

What Are Citations?

Citations are an online reference to a business that features the business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP). Typically, when an SEO refers to citations, they are talking about a group of individual business listings on various sites. Most citations take the form of an online business directory, but other types of citations exist.

While the minimum amount of information required for most citations is just a name, address, and phone number, most websites offer many more opportunities to add additional information.

Types of Citations

There are several different types of citation websites out there and many SEOs argue about which are more valuable than others.

However, for local SEO, the SEO community generally agrees that the following Citations are “must-haves.”

There are hundreds of potential websites to list a business online, but not all of them may be relevant for your business. That’s why citation categories exist. There are many types of citations for many different types of businesses. Attorneys, healthcare, real estate, you name it; a category of exists.

While some citations have a higher domain authority than other, the category relevancy is more important than the domain authority. That’s why getting listed in these industry categories is critical.

Link Building vs. Citations

Some SEOs mistakenly group citations management into link building.

While this does involve building links for a website, the intent is much different. Search engines like Google claim to be able to know the difference.

Why Citations Are Important

Improve Local Rankings

Citations are considered a ranking factor for local SEO. Having your business listed in trusted online directories sends signals to Google to improves their degree of certainty that your business exists.

The quantity of listings, the accuracy of your listings, and the quality of the online directories can affect how Google perceives your online presence. This is why it’s important to pick your citations wisely.

Piggy Back Page One Results

Another underreported benefit of building citations is that some online business directories dominate page one of local search. Sites like Justdial and IndiaMart tend to consistently rank high for most local searches in India.

So if you can’t beat them, join them! These online directories provide other opportunities to earn real estate on page one.

Earn Referral Traffic

Many people are loyal to different citations, such as Yelp for restaurants. Many service seekers are trained to go to Justdial when looking for services like plumbers, electrician, local service providers, and fmcg supplies before going to Google. IndiaMart receive the most traffic for manufacturer and suppliers search query from people searching on Google for their need.

Getting listed in as many potential directories as possible may earn valuable referral traffic.

How to Pick the Right Citations

With all of the citations out there, you may not be able to get your business listed in all of them. Whether it be time or cost restraints, you may find yourself struggling to narrow down your list.

Just because quantity of citations is important, you shouldn’t stress yourself out because you can’t list your business in all of them. Guess what, that’s probably a good thing! If you’re using a tool, you may have limits to how many directories they sync with. When deciding which citations to list your business in, a good rule of thumb is to start with the online business directories that are most relevant to your industry.

There are several online lists of top industry citations by business category:

After establishing your list of industry-specific online business directories, you’ll want to get a list of general citations. BrightLocal has a great list of some of the most popular directories.

The best online business directories are ones that potential customers actually use.

For example, many people use directories like HealthGrades to actively search for a doctor. This directory not only establishes relevance for healthcare companies, but also can drive referral traffic.

Tools to Help Manage Citations

There are many different tools out there to help you manage your online business directories. All of them vary in costs, features, and functionality, but most of them use the same citations.

This can make it difficult to decide which tools to use. However, there are several things to consider when looking for the right listings management tool.

What to Look for in Citation Management Tools

Here are some things I always look for when deciding which tool to use.

Citation variety

  • Does the tool offer the option to select industry-specific directories?
  • Does the tool allow you to select specific directories or does it pick for you?

How does the tool setup the citations?

  • Does it have a direct API to the directories?
  • Does it use aggregators?

Does it offer duplicate suppression?

  • How easy is it to manage suppressing duplicates?
  • How accurate is the duplicate detection? 


  • What kind of tracking features does the tool offer?
  • How accurate is the tracking?
  • Can it sync to other tracking tools?


  • Does the price per location fit my budget?
  • How does it compare to other tools with the same features?

How to Optimize Citations

Citation management is more than just putting your business out there. To really optimize your online presence, there are a few factors to keep in mind.

NAP Consistency

NAP consistency refers to having consistent name, address, and phone numbers across all listings. There have been several independent studies that have shown that having a consistent NAP listing may be a factor to local SEO.

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