How to Build Local Citations (Complete Guide)

. Get listed with the ‘big three’ data aggregators Many SEOs believe they’re important for local SEO.

Citations appear in business directories, social networks, and other places where local businesses are searched.

This is a NAP citation, showing the shop’s name, address, and phone number.

This guide teaches:

Why cite locally

Types of citations


Why precision matters

Why are citations important?

Citations serve two purposes:

Helping people find your business online (maybe)

How citations help with local SEO

Citations help search engines verify your business’s existence, legitimacy, and trustworthiness. If the same details appear on many relevant and trusted websites, Google may have more confidence in your business’s existence, operation, and claims.

Moz says citations are the fifth most important local ranking signal.

This survey does have a few flaws, however.

It’s older. 2018 survey Since citations have likely lost importance over time, they may be less important today.

Some SEOs don’t value citations. Even in 2018, many SEOs said citations weren’t that important and didn’t move the needle.

We agree with this last point.

Local citations from anywhere won’t boost your local rankings. There’s still value in getting citations from relevant, trusted sources where people expect to see your business.

Google’s John Mueller on citations:

A company’s mention doesn’t mean it’s good or bad. If you think people will see it and search for your business, that’s great.

How citations help people to discover your business

Local businesses aren’t always found on Google. They use Yelp, Yellow Pages, and That’s why it’s helpful to get on these sites.

Business directories dominate local search results.

Try “plumber nottingham”:

Plumbers’ websites aren’t among the top results. They’re mostly plumber directories.

Because Google returns these results for local searches, searchers must see your business there.

What types of citations are there?

Before we discuss citations, let’s look at the two types.

Structured citations

A structured citation lists a business’s NAP. These include directories and social media profiles. Each company’s data is displayed consistently, and the page is built around it.

Unstructured citations

Unstructured citations mention businesses in context. They appear in blogs, forums, or press mentions.

How do I build citations?

Structured and unstructured citations benefit most businesses. You don’t need them from every site. Quality beats quantity.

Follow these four steps to create citations:

  1. Get listed with the ‘big three’ data aggregators
  2. Submit to other core sites
  3. Submit to popular industry and local sites
  4. Pursue unstructured citations

Step #1. Get listed with the ‘big three’ data aggregators

Web business directories are plentiful. If they relied on business owners submitting NAP information directly, they’d have data gaps. Business owners won’t submit to thousands of websites.

Data aggregators help. These companies distribute business information to hundreds of websites. If they have your info, you’ll be cited everywhere.

US data aggregators include:

Express Update (by Infogroup)



SIDENOTE. Acxiom was a big data aggregator, but they discontinued their product in 2019.

InfoGroup (Express Update) and Neustar Localeze are free to use. If your business is listed, claim it. Otherwise, try again.

Before submitting a new listing, search for and claim your business. You must claim duplicates and correct information.

You can’t edit listings directly in Factual. You must use a Trusted Data Contributor (TDC), which costs money. Check their directory for your business’s info. If true, no problem. If it’s wrong, a TDC like Yext or WhiteSpark can help. Factual isn’t worth it for most businesses, so don’t worry about it.

Step #2. Submit to other core sites

The ‘big three’ data aggregators distribute NAP information to many well-known sites. Submitting to core sites in your country is often helpful.

Sites like:


Facebook \sYelp

Google Maps


BBB \sFoursquare

Find a list of US and international citation sources here.  While there is overlap, these lists are rarely identical.

Personal opinion: don’t submit to all these sites. Most I’ve never heard of, and some get little traffic.

Given how this site looks, not surprising. I can’t imagine using this to find a local business (maybe in 1995?

Look over this list and submit to the sites that seem worthwhile.

Who knows? If you’ve heard of them, submit (if it’s free). Google “[your industry] in [location]” to see if they’re in the top 100 results.

Thumbtack and AngiesList appear in search results for “new york plumber.”

Submit manually

If you have time and don’t mind mundane tasks, submit to each site individually. Search for your business on every credible site. If it’s there, ensure accuracy. If it’s not accurate, claim it (most sites allow this) and correct the errors. Add what’s missing.

You can claim the listing to add more business info. After claiming a Yelp listing, you can add photos and other details.

Yext’s Business Scan can help with this time-consuming process. It automates checking for listings on “important” sites. Enter your business info to see a report like this:

If there are any “missing” or inaccurate listings, just head to the site, search for your business, and add or correct it.

Use a submission and management service

Submitting the same business information by hand is no fun. Few companies have built solutions to ease this process. Yext is the most well-known. They integrate with hundreds of sites, so you can submit and manage citations from one place.

Some sites only allow Yext submissions.

Not only Yext offers submission and management services. BrightLocal and Whitespark provide them.

Hard to say if submission services are worth it. Every SEO will disagree. Given how expensive these services are, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. I’d manually add listings to the few most important sites.

Step #3. Submit to popular industry and local sites

After completing “baseline” citations, look for industry- and geo-specific citation opportunities.

Hotel owners should be listed on TripAdvisor. Attorneys should be on Realtors should use Imagine. Industry-specific citations.

Your business’s location will boost citations. You should join the local Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

You can find these opportunities in several ways.

a) Use Google

 [location] chamber of commerce
[location] business directory
[industry] business directory
[industry] business listings

You needn’t submit to every site. Choose worthwhile sites using your best judgement.

b) Use an industry citations list

BrightLocal’s is one of the best online. It lists 40 business citation opportunities.

c) Use Ahrefs’ Link Intersect tool       

The business’s name, address, phone number, and website URL are typically cited. This is a NAPW citation (W for “website”).

These nofollow links can be used to find citation opportunities. Search Google for competing businesses, then paste their homepage URLs into Link Intersect. In the bottom field, type your homepage URL and select “URL” for all modes.

These are sites you don’t link to. That means you’re not listed.

Click a site to see its SEO metrics, including organic traffic. This can tell you how popular the site is and whether listing is important.

Step #4. Pursue unstructured citations

If you’re here, you’ve likely already beaten most of your competitors in structured citations. Unstructured citations haven’t been discussed.

Unstructured citations are unique. They’re harder to obtain than structured citations. Someone must care enough to write about your business.

GQ’s article on London’s best coffee shops mentions Milk Beach.

Use Google

Supplier pages provide unstructured citations. These are common. They link to suppliers.

Google has them. Make a list of your suppliers, then search for:

You can browse their website. These pages are usually easy to find.


HARO connects journalists with story sources. Free and easy to use:


Journalists’ questions arrive daily via email.

You answer/quote.

If they use it, you’re cited.

It takes time and effort, but you’ll get high-quality citations and links.

Use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer

Most unstructured citations include a link to the company’s website, so check your competitors’ backlinks.

Consider a London coffee shop. Enter a competitor’s domain in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, switch to URL mode, and filter for “Dofollow” links. From here, look for opportunities in trends. Milk Beach’s report includes many links and citations from lists of London’s best brunches.

This helpful? Possibly. Unless your coffee shop serves brunch. If it does and your customers rave about it, you may want to contact bloggers and journalists.

This blog’s author lists her five favourite brunch spots.

If she hasn’t mentioned our coffee shop, she hasn’t been or didn’t like it. Send her a friendly email and invite her to dinner. She may add the shop to her post or write a standalone review if she accepts our offer.

Another Backlinks citation:

Gluten-free blogger created this recipe. Now that she’s moved, it wouldn’t make sense to contact her. Assuming we have tasty celiac options, we could contact gluten-free food bloggers in London.

Here’s one London gluten-free blogger page I found on Google. It references many companies:

This process requires common sense and creativity, but it can yield great results.

Every business? No. If you’re a one-person band in a small town, your competitors probably haven’t been mentioned in the media. If so, it’s a sign of low competition, so you can outrank them by using structured citations.

Why it’s important to keep your citations consistent and accurate

For structured and unstructured citations, be accurate and consistent. That means not having two different phone numbers.

This hurts local SEO and consumer trust. One study found that 80% of consumers lose trust in local businesses if they see incorrect online contact info or business names.

We can see why. If a business doesn’t maintain its online presence, you may assume it closed or is unreliable.

No need to be too consistent. If one directory lists you as “Beanies Coffee Shop” and another as “Beanies,” that’s not a problem. As long as everything else matches (address, phone number, website, etc.), Google can connect the dots.

Final thoughts

Citations help local SEO, but they’re not everything. You need to optimise Google My Business, do keyword research, and more.

Our Local SEO Guide can help.

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