What are local citations? – Their importance in SEO

What are local citations? – Their importance in SEO

Local citation building has been an important part of local SEO for a long time now, but it’s not always clear to business owners what a citation is or why they’re so important. Citations are often confused with backlinks too, creating further confusion.

With backlinks becoming less and less important for SEO, it also begs the question of whether this is the same case for citations and other forms of off-page SEO.

In this blog post, we’re going to discuss what citations are, how they improve your SEO and who’s set to benefit from citation building.

Want help with your local SEO and citation building? Work with a trusted SEO agency to ensure your citations are up-to-date, optimized and relevant. Here at Racer Marketing, we cover all areas of SEO, from on-page to local, ensuring our clients get the best results from their SEO campaigns.

Why it’s important

Understanding what citations are and how they benefit your business will help you get a better understanding of how local SEO works. This knowledge will help you better understand any local SEO work done on your website, be it work performed internally or work done by a marketing agency.

What are citations?

Citations are mentions of your company’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information on relevant external websites. These listings are often on important directory websites like Google My Business, Yelp and Yellow Pages, but other sites like Facebook are also used.

An image of our Google My Business listing in the Google SERPs


Citations are often location-specific, with larger international directory sites like Yelp clearly displaying a company’s location on their listing. This helps make it clear to Google and other search engines what area your business serves.

That being said, it’s also common for businesses to build citations on directories specifically related to their industry. For example, a plumber adding business listings to plumbing directories, or a local corner shop adding their business to a directory site for shops in their city. This helps build topical relevance as well as relevance to your location.

Citations vs backlinks – What’s the difference

It’s common for people who are new to the topic to get confused between backlinks and citations. The main difference between the two is that citations are built for the purpose of creating clarity about your location, your industry and the area you serve, whereas backlinks are built for improving a page’s ranking directly.

Even though citations added to large directories can also have a backlink pointing to the website, it’s not the main goal of a citation and most search engines have a good idea of what the major directories are.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of similarities too, like the fact they can both be used to drive more traffic to your site and they can both build trust and authority.

How do citations help your SEO?

Citations help you build your website’s local relevancy, meaning it helps improve your local SEO. By making it clear to search engines what area you serve and clearly showing your NAP information in the right format, search engines get a better understanding of what your business does and where it operates.

An example of NAP information on our own website

That being said, local citations generally don’t help a company rank their website for non-local search terms.

Other benefits of local citations include providing potential customers with the correct information on different websites, improving your page’s rankings for branded search terms and driving referral traffic to your site from the directory sites. 

Best practices

Although we can’t give you an entire local SEO course in this blog post, we can cover some of the best practices when it comes to citation building. Google bases local rankings on relevance, distance and prominence so these are the main things you should focus on when building citations. Below are some of our top tips!

Pick the right websites

It all starts with picking the right websites to build citations on. You want to pick sites that are relevant to your location or relevant to your industry, ideally both. Some of the most important directory sites for SEO include Google My Business, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Facebook and LinkedIn. 

Consistent NAP information

It is vital that the NAP information is consistent across all of your citations. Not only is it important to keep all of your citations up to date, but you should also ensure the same format is used on all pages. 

Add a well-optimized description

Most directories will allow you to add a description of your business. It’s important to optimize this description for your main keywords. This can help Google and other search engines better understand what your business is about.

Fill everything in

Adding images, logos, reviews etc. can help your business listing stand out. Not only can this help the listing rank better but it can also help you drive more referral traffic to your site from the listing.

Who can benefit from citation building?

Citation building is a part of local SEO, so any company that targets a specific location is set to benefit from citation building.  This includes local shops and contractors, but also other local businesses that serve a specific local area or operate from a physical location. 


Local citations are still an important part of SEO, with extra mentions of your business’s NAP information on relevant directories helping you to increase your local relevance and boost your rankings for local keywords.

By building the right kinds of citations in the right way, and optimizing them for your most important keywords, you can improve your local SEO results.

Need help with your local SEO? Here at Racer, we’ve helped many businesses improve their performance in search engines. Local SEO has always been a big part of this. If you’d like to see how we can best support your business, please get in touch.

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