What Are Citations, and Why Are They Important For Local SEO?

What Are Citations, and Why Are They Important For Local SEO?


Citations are basically any mention of your business on another website. These differ from the commonly known term “backlinks” in that a citation doesn’t necessarily have to contain a link to your website. These are a key component of the ranking algorithms for search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, since a large number of citations with the same information about your business helps increase the certainty that the information is correct.

All things being equal, the more certainty search engines have about the accuracy of your business information, the higher you’ll rank in the search results for a given query. It’s simply a matter of the search engine attempting to display the most relevant and accurate information to the user.

Bad Listings are Bad Business

Say your business is listed on multiple local search directories, but several have conflicting information. Let’s say Superpages.com lists your phone number as 586-925-4392, which is your current phone number, but elocal.com shows the number from your previous location as 248-266-2602. This is a major conflict, and the search engines have no way of discerning what the correct phone number for your business actually is. As a result, you won’t rank as highly as you otherwise could since the accuracy of the information the search engines have about you is questionable.


This same principle applies to all information contained in your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone). However, when discussing your address, things get even more dicey. Say your business is located off of Metropolitan Parkway. On Superpages, the street name is abbreviated “Metro Parkway,” on eLocal, it reads “Metro Pkwy,” and on your website it reads “Metropolitan Pkwy.” You’d think that the search engines are smart enough to figure this one out and compensate for the abbreviations. However, especially in competitive markets, even these slight differences of abbreviation can cause one business to outrank the other.

How to check your business listings

There are dozens of local search directories and applications on the market. Of the hundreds that exist, there are 45-50 that really matter. It’s not that the others don’t matter, it’s that the others often draw their information from one of these sites. If your information is accurate across the top-tier directories, it will most likely get updated to the others the next time they run an update.

When checking your local business listings for accuracy, there’s a hard way and an easy way. The hard way would be to check each of these websites one-by-one. A much easier approach would be to use a free business listing scan like this one. This will show all the errors and inconsistencies among the top-tier directories, which will provide you with valuable insight as to how your business appears across the internet.

How to Make Business Listing Corrections

Once you know which directories contain errors about your business, you can go through each one of them and update your information accordingly. However, this approach is very time consuming. The other downside is that the information you provide can (and probably will be) changed as soon as the directory updates their information. For example, if Directory A pulls information from Directory B, C, D, or C, and the information differs in some way, Directory A will update their information from that source. This can become a real headache.


Fortunately, there’s a better approach. Yext offers a PowerListings program, which will sync all your information simultaneously across all the top-tier directories. Additionally, your listings will are locked so your information won’t be changed later. The other benefit is that their enhanced listing feature allows you to add pictures, video, a bio, and additional services to your business profile. It’s like having a webpage dedicated to your business on 50 of the highest ranking websites around. This dramatically impacts your ability to stand out from the competition.

What’s the downside?

The downside with is that there is a monthly fee in order to maintain & manage your listings. Once you stop paying the fee, the enhanced listing goes away and your business listing reverts to the standard NAP. Additionally, the listings are “unlocked” and are once again open to changes.

Is Yext Worth The Money?

The service costs between $70-$95 per month depending on the package you purchase. At first blush, that may seem steep. However, consider what your average customer is worth to you. How many new customers do you need to for the service to pay for itself? You also have to consider that you’re not only measuring the customers that contact you directly from the directory listings. Although sites like Yelp, Merchant Circle, and Yellow Pages are becoming very popular with smart phone & app usage on the rise, you have to consider that when all your listings are synced with great information, your website will climb the ranks in Google’s organic results.

Even the best package at $95/mo will easily pay for itself as you see an increase in traffic to your website. Just keep in mind, that this won’t happen over night. Doing all the right things over time is what will significantly grow your online presence.

If you have any additional questions, or if you would like help setting up your profile in order to optimize for conversion, just let us know. We’re always here to help.

Jeff Bickley

Over the past decade, Jeff has worked with numerous Fortune 100 and Start-Up companies to establish, reinvent, and re-enforce their brand. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Jeff has a passion for leveraging his vast experience to provide solid and timely advice to business leaders at all levels.

  • avatar
    Louis V.
    Posted at 01:36h, 25 April

    I’ve seen a huge jump in my rankings and also in the number of calls I’m getting from various business listings since following this advise. Thanks for the help!

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 13:42h, 25 April

      No problem, Louis! Glad we could help!

  • avatar
    Logan Campbell
    Posted at 09:08h, 15 April

    People search for products and services in so many ways anymore, it’s hard to keep up. This syndicated approach to local business listings makes a lot of sense.

  • avatar
    Jon Green
    Posted at 02:03h, 05 April

    I’ve been building links like a madman with different link building software programs, but it seems like everything I do counts against me.. what am i doing wrong?

  • avatar
    Diana McKenzie
    Posted at 07:36h, 01 April

    Great post. Citations for local SEO are key. Keeping them all synced is a nightmare though, thanks for sharing the yext idea.

  • avatar
    Telly McGuire
    Posted at 11:36h, 07 February

    This is really important. Make sure you run the scan, and fix any errors. Yext is definitely worth the money, but if the budget is tight, at least manually correct any inconsistencies you find. 

  • avatar
    CORE Restaurant Marketing
    Posted at 10:56h, 04 January

    70% of positive search efforts come from citations.