Local Citations: The Overlooked Listings That Boost “Near Me” Search Results

Written by The Valve+Meter Team / July 2, 2023 / 9 Minute Read
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Are you a local business owner looking to improve your online presence and attract more customers? Learn what local citations are and how marketers use them to boost local SEO and get your business found by potential customers in your area.


What Are Local Citations?

A local citation is any online mention of a business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP).

Consistent and accurate NAP across websites, business directories, social media, apps, and other online platforms is especially important for local businesses.

Local SEO agencies including Valve+Meter Performance Marketing prioritize local citation building because:

  • High-quality citations help potential customers find your business.
  • Accurate citations improve visibility in local search results.
  • Consistent citations build trust and authority with search engines.

Common challenges in managing citations include inaccurate or inconsistent information across the web, and duplicate listings. Like many successful SEO tactics, many website owners and businesses can struggle to build processes, tools, and allocate internal resources for off-page SEO.

Using local citation management, or local citation building, can expedite results and improve the health of your online visibility for the long term. Local citation management includes a range of practices including claiming and updating profiles on major platforms like Google Business Profile and utilizing directories that are specific to your industry and local community.

In this article we will provide a deeper understanding of local citation building, how business listings enhance your local SEO, and offer advice on when to both build local citations through your own marketing and when to partner with professionals.

Key Moments

  • Local Citations Enhance Online Visibility: Local citations, including mentions of a business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) on various platforms, are crucial for boosting local SEO and attracting potential customers.
  • Structured vs. Unstructured Citations: Structured citations are found on directories and review sites, while unstructured citations appear in news articles or social media posts. Both types play a vital role in local SEO.
  • Importance of Consistency: Consistent NAP information across the web is essential for building trust and credibility with search engines, leading to improved local search rankings and increased online visibility.
  • Tools for Managing Citations: Utilizing tools like Moz Local, BrightLocal, and Whitespark can help businesses monitor, update, and maintain their local citations, ensuring accuracy and consistency.

Understanding Local Citations

Unlike some complex digital marketing practices, local citations are easy to understand.

Just like any advertisement, your business information needs to be correct for people to find you. In the online world, this includes Google, Bing, and other search engines.

If your name, address, phone, website, social profiles, and other business information are not consistent across the internet, then your reputation suffers.

Search engines are more likely to reward the local business that is more relevant and prominent in search results including the Local Pack and Google Maps.

Where Local Citations Appear in Google Search Results:

When people search online for services or products you offer, local citations appear and business websites. When someone searches your business name, the results typically feature the knowledge panel, Google Business Profile, your website, and directories. Let’s examine a few:

  1. Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business): Absolutely critical for any local business, as it often powers Google Map results and the “Knowledge Panel” in search. A fully optimized and accurate Google Business Profile gives your business online visibility and credibility through reviews.
  2. Bing Places for Business: Microsoft’s equivalent to Google Business Profile, this is important for Bing searches and voice assistants that use their data.
  3. Apple Maps: Drives results on Apple devices especially for local businesses that provide service within your location like retailers and restaurants. Creating a listing is particularly vital if your customers skew towards iOS users.
  4. Facebook: While technically a social media platform, businesses need a page with accurate NAP for local relevance across Meta and other social channels.
  5. National Directories: Online business directories include review websites like Yelp and Angi. Other examples are more traditional business listings like Yellow Pages and Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  6. Local Directories: These include local Chamber of Commerce websites, networking groups, industry specific directories, local media websites (TV stations and newspapers), and any relevant regional directories.

Although not all business directories drive direct customers or leads to your website, ensuring accurate and consistent local citations across these platforms is best practice.

Online Search 97%
97% of users find local businesses online.

Why Local Citations Matter

When all business listings across the internet feature a consistent NAP, you build prominence and credibility for your business online. Studies show 97% of people find local business information online.

Local search citations create trust and reliability among potential customers.

Business leaders should also understand how Google and other search engines rank results. Each local citation essentially functions as an endorsement from that website entity to search engines. Accurate business listings demonstrate authenticity.

For a local business, larger local competitors and national brands can dominate search results. Since 80% of people who discover a local business online use search engines, you need every advantage to increase online visibility.

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Types of Local Citations

Structured and unstructured are two main categories of local citations, also known as structured and unstructured citations.

The previous examples are varieties of structured citations. Structured citations are listings of your business’s information on relevant directories and third-party websites.

In contrast, unstructured citations are mentions of your business’s information found on websites and apps, such as news articles or reviews.

Both types of citations play a crucial role in local SEO, as they help search engines trust and connect your business to the right audience. Let’s take a closer look at each type of citation.

Structured Citations

Structured citations are online mentions of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). You’ll find them on local directories, review sites, and similar platforms. Managing structured citations can be done manually, but citation building tools offer a more efficient approach.

SEO professionals help local businesses optimize their citations and monitor them regularly for accuracy and best results.

Unstructured Citations

Unstructured citations refer to mentions of your business’s information (name, address, phone number, etc.) on various websites and apps, such as news articles, reviews, and social media posts. While they may not follow a specific format and can be harder to track than structured citations, they still positively impact local SEO and may include valuable backlinks to your website.

Although they may not follow a specific format or be as straightforward to track as structured citations, unstructured citations can still positively impact local SEO, often including backlinks to your business’s website.

SEO professionals uncover unstructured citation opportunities by conducting thorough online searches for your business name and variations of it.

Online Reviews 73%
73% of people trust online reviews.
Local Buyers 80%
80% of people who discover a local business online use search engines

Building Citations and Optimizing Directories

Now that you better understand the different types of local citations, you can find relevant business directories and begin optimizing your NAP and business data.

This starts with the most prominent major local business listings: Google Business Profile, Bing Places, and social media sites.

There are a number of tools to build local citations, but working with professional marketers ensures your business name is accurate and each relevant business category is completed.

Claiming and Updating Business Profiles

Search engines are the first place to start. Google Business Profile and Bing Places are the primary local business listings prospective customers find when searching your business name on search engines.

For entrepreneurs and leaders, the process of optimizing your Google Business Profile requires a number of steps.

The most important thing to know when you plan to build local citations is claiming your business and making certain that all of the data on your profile matches your website.

What’s the importance of these online directories? According to a survey of 1001 local businesses, directory searches account for 84% of local business appearances.

By claiming and updating your business profiles, you can ensure that potential customers can easily find and contact your business, improving your online visibility and local search rankings.

Utilizing Local Directories and Niche Websites

Besides claiming and updating major business profiles, local SEO citations include smaller directories and niche websites.

Professional marketers study citation sites for accurate business information and identify the niche or industry-specific directories to suit your business.

Hyper-local directories, such as those of the local Chamber of Commerce or other local business associations, can also be valuable resources for building local citations.

The primary goal is to build local citations with directories and websites that are reputable.

Monitoring and Maintaining Local Citations

Finally, monitoring and maintaining your local citations is crucial for ensuring consistency and accuracy in your business’s information.

Monitoring your local citations is important because data can be revised and changed over time. Both manual changes and automation can lead to data inconsistency.

Data consistency is an important part of Google’s local search algorithm, so tracking your listings across the internet, monitoring citation growth over time, and identifying NAP errors and duplicate listings that could be detrimental to your local SEO efforts is crucial.

Additionally, encouraging customers to review your business on their favorite directories and profiles can help improve your local search rankings.

Common Pitfalls and Challenges in Local Citation Management

When building your Local SEO strategy, local citation management should be carefully designed.

Local searches are growing in popularity and 72% of consumers who perform a quick Google search will visit a business within 5 miles of their location.

Research and planning help avoid common pitfalls and challenges you may encounter.

These issues can be difficult to address, but there are some steps you can take to help ensure accuracy and consistency.

Inaccurate or Inconsistent Information

One common pitfall in local citation management is providing inaccurate or inconsistent information across different local citation finder sources. This can lead to confusion for potential customers and reduced local search results visibility.

To avoid this issue, match your business name, address, and phone on all directories to match your website. When you create listings do not change abbreviations or use different symbols. For example: If your business name is “A2Z Construction,” a directory listing error of “A to Z Construction” could create confusion for search engine crawlers and users.

Dealing with Duplicate Listings

Duplicate directory listings that confuse customers and negatively impact your local search rankings can appear more often than you might think.

To identify and resolve duplicate listings, search for your business’s name, address, and phone number on various websites, directories, and platforms, and remove or consolidate any duplicate entries you find. This is common when businesses move and use multiple phone numbers.

Citation tools can help regularly monitor your local citations and help prevent the creation or recreation of duplicate listings.

Tools and Resources for Local Citation Management

In addition to the best practices and strategies discussed above, several tools and resources are available to help you effectively manage your local citations.

Data Aggregators

Data aggregators are organizations that collect data from multiple sources and distribute it to various websites, helping to centralize and maintain accurate information across the web. Foursquare and Localeze are two well-known data aggregators.

They provide a comprehensive view of contact details, location maps, and reviews.

Utilizing business data on aggregators can save you time and effort by automating updating your business information on various websites.

Local Citation Management Tools

Local citation management tools like Moz Local, BrightLocal, and Whitespark can help small businesses monitor, update, and maintain their local citations.

These tools track your listings across the internet, monitor citation growth over time, and identify NAP errors and duplicate listings that could be detrimental to your local SEO efforts.

By leveraging these tools and resources, you can effectively manage your business description, local citations and improve your search rankings.


Building local citations is a core component of local SEO. Having the same business information across as many directories, websites, and profiles as possible build your online reputation.

Valve+Meter provides comprehensive digital marketing strategies including local SEO and citation building services.

As part of a free assessment, our team provides insights into your current situation and how our SEO professionals may be able to reach more local listings, improve your visibility in Google, and ultimately, drive more leads for your business.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A local citation refers to any online mention of a local business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on various web pages, including business directories, review sites, and social media platforms.

Building local citations is crucial for enhancing your online presence.

Local citations serve as online references to a business, providing search engines with detailed information that helps build trust and improve the business’s local search rankings, ultimately leading to increased visibility.

To locate local citations, search for your business’s name, address, and phone number on different websites, directories, and platforms.

This helps you identify existing citations and ensure their accuracy and consistency. Additionally, seek opportunities to create new listings on relevant sites to boost your online presence and local search rankings.

Consider working with professional marketers or using specialized citation tools for a thorough audit of your local SEO.

Local citations are important as they build trust and credibility for a business, improve your local SEO rankings, and increase online visibility.

By providing search engines with consistent and accurate information about your business, citations help build trust and credibility, leading to improved local search rankings and increased online visibility.

They also help customers easily find local businesses and access additional information.

A local citation service assists businesses in building, managing, and maintaining their local citations to optimize local SEO. Popular services include Moz Local, BrightLocal, and Whitespark.

Yes, citations help local SEO by providing search engines with consistent and accurate information about a business, helping build trust and credibility.

This, in turn, helps search engines authenticate the business and is considered a ranking factor for local SEO.

Local citations are a Google ranking factor, as they assist search engines verify and rank businesses in local search results.

According to Bright Local, local citations are the fifth most significant ranking factor for local pack visibility and the fourth for precise ranking on Google’s local search interfaces, making them an essential part of local search ranking factors.