#13 Building local citations

by | Feb 12, 2024

In this guide, you will gain a deeper understanding of local citations, including what they are and why they are crucial for your business.

Additionally, I will provide you with various options for building and managing your local citations.

If you prefer to take a hands-on approach, I will also walk you through the process step-by-step and share a template to help you get started.

Make sure you read my starter guide if you’re just starting local SEO.

Let’s get to citations!

What are local citations?

A mention of your business’s Name, Address and Phone (NAP) number on external websites. Not necessarily linked.

Alex at Search Friendly

Why are local citations important?

Search engines use data from respected online directories to understand your business better and determine its authority.

According to a 2023 local rank factor study by Whitespark, Citation signals are a ranking factor.

How many citations do I need?

A general rule is that you start with 10-25 local citations. 50-80+ is considered a strong portfolio. But it depends on how many local citations competitors in your niche have.

How important is NAP consistency?

As you already know, NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number. Historically, NAP consistency was considered crucial for a strong citation portfolio.

Darren Shaw of Whitespark wrote on LinkedIn today stating that…

Citation consistency has NOT mattered for SEO for over a decade. It used to matter a lot, but not anymore.

Darren Shaw‘s post on LinkedIn

At the same time he later mentions that…

Citation building is still very important. You need to be listed on the places Google expects to find your business. If you’re not, you’ll have a hard time competing.

Darren Shaw‘s post on LinkedIn

The takeaway for you:

  • Build citations because they are still an important local ranking factor.
  • Don’t worry about inconsistent local citations using citation audit tools like Moz or SEMrush.
  • Follow the process below to ensure your citations are consistent when submitting.

Do you need a local citation sites list?

If you’re building local citations yourself, then yes, starting with a list is a good idea. Here’s a couple of lists you need to look at:

  • Top citations by country – this will give you a list of countries. Choose your country of business to get a list of the most potent local citations in your country.
  • Top citations by category – this link will show you citations by country and category of business. Choose your country and category to get a list of local citation sites to submit to.

Types of citations

There are general and industry-specific citations.

For example, a listing of your business in Yelp is considered a general citation.

Meanwhile, if you are an attorney, you also want to be listed in an industry-specific directory like HG.org or Martindale.com.

Submission options

You can order local citation building as a local citation service from Whitespark. They know what they’re doing and charge for that responsibly.

Or you can build citations yourself. Here’s a template to help you do that.

The rest of this article is based on my experience filled with sweat, blood and tears :).

DIY local citations

Here’s how to build citations using the citation builder template (button above).

Complete the Setup tab

The Setup tab includes all your critical information, including NAP (we want it consistent across all citations) and additional details.

Find the correct list of citations

Check the Sources tab to locate the most relevant list of citations for your country and niche.

Use the Tracker sheet

As you review the list of sources individually, utilize the Tracker sheet to manage the process.

The process of manual citation building includes the following steps.

1. Prepare the information

Complete the Setup sheet with all the relevant information and assets (links to logo, images and videos).

2. Submit for citations

Use your Setup sheet information to submit to your chosen citation sources. Go one by one, starting from the top. Copy/pasting usually works best to avoid making typos. Remember, NAP has to be consistent. All other details should be free of grammar and typos.

Most citation sources on the lists will be free, but some will be paid, ranging from $10 to $200 and from one-time to recurring annual or monthly subscriptions. It’s up to you to pay. If you’re on a tight budget, first cover all free options. Then go for the most authoritative (by domain authority) and less expensive.

3. Verify/validate

Once you submit, most directories will ask for a verification. You must ensure you can access the email address you provided to verify.

Email verification is usually a message that lands in your inbox. That message contains a link. Click the link to verify.

There might be phone verifications. Again, the citation source (the website you submitted to) will use the phone number you provided. They will either call or text.

4. Confirm the live link

The link to your newly created profile will rarely be live immediately, even if you verify it immediately. So, it’s a good idea to use the status column in the Tracker sheet to mark the process stages.

You can then return to the Tracker sheet weekly or monthly to test if the link has become active.

Some directories will notify you that your link is active, and some will not. Here’s how to check if there’s no notification.

Go to Google. Get the citation source domain and your company name ready. Enter site:domain.com “company name”. This

For example, you want to check if your company Simply Elegant is listed on Yelp. Here’s what you’ll enter in Google search field: site:yelp.com “simply elegant”.

Timelines

Some citation sources list immediately upon verification and provide you with a link. Others will take 1-2 weeks. Yet others might take 1-2 months to verify and list. Please note that this is normal.