Finding citations are an effective way to give your business a good chance of ranking high for web searches in your local area and helping relevant customers find you. In this guide, we show you how.

What Are Citations?

First, finding citations should not be confused with finding backlinks – backlinks link back to your website. Citations can contain a link but that isn’t the objective.

A structured citation is a listing for your business that contains your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). These listings can be placed on websites pertinent to your geographical area or the industry your business is in.

Google crawls these third-party websites and takes data when deciding what businesses or websites to show for geo-targeted searches.

Citations can also be any reference to your business mentioned elsewhere online, through press releases, mentions on blogs etc – these are called unstructured citations, but this article is focused on structured directory citations using the NAP formula.

Citations aren’t rocket science! Learn here with GrowSkills how to find and manage your own directory citations.

Citation Objectives

Citations are particularly important to local SEO (getting local customers to find your business) and ensure Google sees your business accurately represented across relevant sites. This can help boost your rankings for important search terms in your locality (‘plumbers in Lancashire’, for example).

Citations also ensure your business is directly visible in directories and on websites that your customers may be using to find services. This could be a local business directory, or a niche business directory.

Citation Sources

Citations can be placed in several places, the key ones you should sort out first include:

  • Google My Business
  • Bing Places
  • Yell
  • Yelp
  • Thomson Local
  • Yahoo
  • Apple Maps
  • FourSquare

The sites listed above are the ones you should do as a bare minimum, and your Google My Business listing should be treated as a fundamental business asset alongside your website.

Afterwards, you can look for directories that are specific to the area your business operates in. For example, the Lancashire Business Directory for Lancashire businesses. These directories may be based on regions, counties, or your town – have a look for the best ones that represent the areas you would like to promote your business.

Now you have covered directories that list any type of business, it’s time to get more specific and niche.

You should look for directories and websites that are specific to your industry. These may also be local but often you can find national databases for just about any industry, choose a few that look good and add your listing.

There may also be an opportunity to list your business on larger websites that are routinely used by customers to look businesses up. Examples that come to mind are websites like Trip Advisor and Checkatrade.

Managing Citations

It’s a really good idea to keep a list of the websites you have listings on for a couple of reasons. The first is that if any aspect of your business ever changes (telephone number, for example), you will need to update all your listings. If you’ve spent time creating 20+ listings there is no way you are going to remember them all off the top of your head!

A spreadsheet is an ideal way to keep track of your listings – it’s also handy to store your login details on the spreadsheet so you don’t get frozen out when trying to update listings!

Additionally, as some directories require a fee for you to add your listing, a spreadsheet is a good way to store reminders about when listings are due to end so you can renew them.

When it comes to ensuring your citations are ‘healthy’ you are just looking to ensure they are all accurate, consistent, and aren’t duplicated on any websites.

Finding Citations: Things To Remember

When Google scrapes websites for data about businesses, it likes to see consistency. Consistency is trustworthy. Therefore, you must ensure your structured citations are consistently the same. This isn’t possible in all cases as some citations will have more information about your business than more simple listings, but you must ensure you always list your business name, address, and phone number are always displayed in the same format.

It’s worth mentioning here too that your NAP information should be consistent with how that data is presented on your website. This may seem kind of obvious, but you never know! The name, address, and phone number displayed on your website should be the same across the internet.

Another important part of finding citations is to ensure the websites you place listings on are themselves reputable. Listing your business on spammy, out of date websites will not do your SEO any favours.

Before placing a listing on a site, check the Domain Authority of the website (it should be higher than that of your own website) and check the spam score of the website – it should be lower than 30%. Website SEO Checker is a handy tool to check DA’s and spam scores.