*UPDATED* June 4, 2015

From day one of my job as an SEO engineer, I sought to help clients rank higher on the local listings section of the SERPs. One of the things that has a huge impact on ranking your business higher is citation-building. What are citations by definition?

The Definition

Using Citations in Local Search RankingsMoz’s Local Learn Center is an authoritative source to learn more about doing local search optimization effectively.  In the learning center on this site, it says that “citations are defined as mentions of your business name and address on other webpages, even if there is no link to your website.” Now when I think of SEO, I think of link-building. But Moz states that you don’t necessarily need a link to your website for it to be a valid citation.

To shed further light on this concept, the makers of Whitespark, a very helpful local citation finder, puts it this way:

“A citation is any mention of your business out on the web, with or without a link. It can come in various forms:

  • Company Name, by itself.
  • Company name & phone number.
  • Company name, phone number, & address.
  • Company name, phone number, address, & link.

A complete citation should include the company name, address, and phone number.” They went on to say that a citation without these three components is called a partial citation, so even “just the phone number” could be a citation, according to Nyagoslav Zhekov

How Will Citations Affect My Local Rankings?

Moz elucidates that “citations are a key component of the ranking algorithms of the major search engines. Other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.” According to this quote, I’d say that citations are a crucial part of increasing local search rankings. In fact, Moz makes this clear, affirming that “citation related factors make up 25 percent of the top twenty factors in David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors.” And let’s not forget that David Mihm is part of the famous Local Search Dream Team.

Where to Get Citations

Moz states, “Citations (and links) from [a chamber of commerce or a city business index, or … a local online newspaper of popular blog] can dramatically improve your Local search engine rankings.” But to help aid you in your search for high quality sites to build citations, let me first refer you to a more definitive list. This is a long list indeed. The sites highlighted in red are “the most important citations to gather for Google local rankings, regardless or your industry or location.”

To get started from scratch, I recommend submitting your business to the top-priority listings found here. Next, I would refer you to two useful resources by BrightLocal: (1) the top niche citation sites and (2) the top local citation sites for top USA cities. However, if you want to find niche and local citation sites faster, I recommend using Local Mixed‘s Citation Finder Tool. And for other citation sources suited to your business, try WhiteSpark‘s Local Citation Finder. Thanks to Darren Shaw (founder of Whitespark), Myles Anderson (founder of BrightLocal), Brad Gerlach (founder of Local Mixed), you now have some great resources to find additional local directories suited to your business, where you can build more citations and watch your business’s rankings move up in the local pack.

photo credit: w2scott via photopin cc

Austin Lund