A Step-by-Step Guide to Local SEO Citation Building

Transcript of the Video

Today we’ll explain how to perform a citation audit for your local SEO strategy. A citation is any reference to a company online. These references often display the business name, address, and phone number, known collectively as NAP. Auditing citations ensures the NAP information for a business is present, accurate and not duplicated across the internet.

Why are citations important? Here are two reasons:

  1. Citations serve as a unique online footprint that helps current and potential customers find information about a business.
  2. Due to recent updates by major search engines, such as Google’s Pigeon update, the proximity of a business’ physical address to the user is a now a significant local search ranking factor. Search engines pull information from citations to determine where a business is located in order to deliver accurate results.

Citations can be divided into two categories: structured and unstructured.

  • A structured citation is a standardized business listing most often found on directories and review sites, such as Yelp and Yellowpages.com. These almost always show complete NAP information, thus must be accurate.
  • An unstructured citation is any other mention of a business that isn’t a standardized directory, such as a blog or newspaper article. Although complete NAP may or may not be included, unstructured citations represent a significant opportunity to boost local branding.

To begin a citation audit, follow these steps:

  1. Record all current and previous NAP information. Any name variations, old addresses and phone numbers can be used to find outdated directory listings that need updating.
  2. Compile a list of up to 50 authoritative, structured citations to review. The Vertical Measures’ blog post on Local SEO for Small Business Owners provides a list to get started with. Additionally, try searching for the business name or primary keywords, and make note of which directories rank well.
  3. Create, or locate and claim existing listings for your business. Some directories may require verification by phone or postcard to prove ownership of the business before claiming the listing.
  4. Update outdated information and remove any duplicate listings. We recommend updating in batches, instead of all at once.

A citation audit is not a one-time task. We recommend reviewing citations every two to three months to ensure information remains current, as directories often pull data from other outside sources.

Learn more about local SEO strategies here.