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The Ultimate Local SEO Guide

Local SEO Citations

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There are many ways to boost and improve your online presence and in-person foot traffic, and local citations are just the thing to give your business the improvement it needs to grow.

In fact, 86% of searches are customers looking for a local business.

How do local citations and NAP affect your company and its ranking and what does NAP mean for business directories and business citation?

Let’s dive in!

What Are Local Citations and What Does it Mean For Your Business?

You may be asking yourself, what exactly are local citations, and why would I need them for my business? 

In the business world, local citations are just online listings of information about your business. Localized ranking is considered one of the most prioritized aspects of SEO strategies.

There are many resources you can use to boost your local citations such as Google My Business or (more recently referred to as Google Business Profile)

These tools are specifically designed to help your business rank higher in local SEO search results. 

What does all this mean for your business? Citations appear in many different places such as social media and other platforms like Yelp. It’s basically just a mention of your website or place of business. They help you rank on Google Maps and page 1 of Google. 

You may not notice a huge increase in your ranking from citations; however, if Google sees that you are affiliated with another trustworthy website, then your chances do improve for an increased standing.

Citations help Google’s algorithm verify your businesses trustworthiness. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your business information such as NAP, is correct on every part of the internet. Otherwise, Google may not show your business to its users.

If your website is mentioned on spammy or low-quality citations, then Google might think your business isn’t legit and not feature it either.

Backlinks are important, so make sure that wherever your business is mentioned, that is it a high-ranking and trustworthy citation.


NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone number. More recently, a few terms have been thrown around like NAPU (Name, Address, Phone Number URL) or NAPW (Name, Address, Phone Number, Website).

You’ll want to get NAP citations on relevant directories and directory listings around the web for a few reasons:

  1. According to the recent studies citation signals account for 13% of the ranking factors for local business and 28% of the time this search ended with a customer visiting the location within 24 hours. 
  2. Many people also use these directories to search for businesses on Google 
  3. Many of these directories rank for localized terms and incorporate digital marketing strategies.
  4. You can also get relevant backlinks to your site by creating an industry-specific listing. This will boost consistent mentions of your business

As you can see, having correct NAP citations boosts your ranking in local search results which is important for many reasons.

Why are Local Citations Important for SEO?

Citations are considered a ranking factor for local SEO. Making sure that your website is listed in trusted sources lets Google know that your business is legit and actually exists. 

There are a few different types of citations that can improve your ranking, however, localized citations help your business get noticed by users from your area. Highlighting this aspect of SEO is important for generating qualified leads. 

Many different directories allow businesses to submit business information for free like GMB (Google Business Profile). However, other directories may include a fee for importing images, website links, and adding additional business locations.

There are a few ways to boost your trustworthiness with Google such as being on websites like Yelp, Yellowpages, Google Business Profile, and Google and Apple Maps. By doing this, Google is able to recognize your website and that helps to gain more domain authority for your business niche. 

It’s best to make sure that your business is at least verified using Google Business Profile because that is what shows predominantly in Google’s search results. 

If you are interested in knowing more about local citations, so are your competitors. Local citations are vital when trying to boost your ranking in NAP, Google Maps, and even just on the top page of Google. 

If your business isn’t seen in any local citations or directories, then you are losing on potential leads and sales. That’s why it’s so important for SEO and business.  

Citation Consistency

Citation and business information inconsistency can cause ranking issues in local directories and for your business category. NAP information being the same on all citations boosts your ranking in google search and verifies your business data within Google’s crawling algorithm. 

There are a few ways to get citations for your business. You can either come by them organically or have a team member enter your business information manually. You can pay for them one by one, or you can use services to do all of the hard work for you. 

Whether you decide to throw down some cash for Google’s trust, or you do it yourself. It’s a vital step in the right direction to make sure that your NAP consistency is optimized for the best results. 

Sometimes business can run into a challenge if somethings has changed like your address or phone number. If that happens, then it’s time to do an audit to make sure all your citations are consistent.

Why is that important?

A citation is any online reference to your NAP. It does not need to link to you, but Google evaluates them as a local signal to determine an entity’s online authority.

Having inaccurate and inconsistent NAP can negatively affect your local SEO.

According to Search Engine Land columnist Myles Anderson, citation inconsistency is actually the number one issue affecting local SEO ranking.

If you have too many variations of your NAP scattered around the web or in Google Maps, especially if some or many of those are outdated. This makes it hard for customers and thus, Google, to trust your information. If Google thinks your data is untrustworthy, this could downgrade your local search ranking.

So, how do you check for citation consistency in your local listings and what are the best ways to optimize your NAP consistency?

How To Audit And Optimize Your Local Citations

NAP consistency isn’t the only way to optimize your local citations. It’s way more complex than just putting your business out there and expecting improved results. You need to have great business descriptions, website links, photos, and reviews. 

Here are a few other ways to improve local citation optimization:

  • Verifying or claiming your business
  • Remove listenings from directories that are irrelevant
  • Adding as much business information as possible
  • Including relevant links to your website

As I mentioned before, verifying your business using Google’s directories and citation sources is important to show Google that your business is real. 

However, removing any irrelevant listenings on unrelated directories also shows Google that you are the business owner and your company is legit. Including links and other important information in your NAP is the best way to boost your ranking. 

An additional tip to optimize your NAP so you can get on that first page of Google Maps for your localized area is to get positive reviews. 

Reviews are one of the leading ways of bringing in customers. Just one review can be the deciding factor in a sale. Getting reviews whether they are negative or positive is one of the best ways to boost your local citations.

Local SEO is important for business because it improves foot and online traffic. In fact, according to recent studies, 49% of customers always check reviews and 72% of those customers trust positive and negative reviews. 

SEO audits are important when trying to figure out what needs improvement. If you aren’t sure if you have all of these details down, then the most complete way to know for sure is to do a citation audit. You can do it manually and uncover all listings and variations of your NAP to find out what you can improve on. 

But if you just want to do a quick check, you can use Moz Local.

Enter your business name in the input bar to the left, and your zip code to the right, then click “Check my Business Listing.”

Moz Local Citation

Moz local pulls up all corresponding listings related to your website from the main local indexing platforms (high authority resource listings that will have the most impact) and displays any inconsistencies it finds.

Once you see these inconsistencies, record them in a spreadsheet and make a note to contact the website owners to correct the NAP info with the one that’s consistent with what you have.

The results from Moz local are limited to the top indexing platforms that Moz has tagged, so it is possible that you may still have citations from other less authoritative or structured sources.

These other citations may have less of an impact,  and it will take you time to do a proper audit for every last one, but if you’re so inclined, we created a citation audit and cleanup services that can do a more comprehensive, in-depth job for you.

Another alternative is to use our citation audit service.

Spying on your competitors can also help you improve and optimize your website and local citations. Don’t copy your competitor, just make better edits and content than them. 

There are many different tools you can use to manage your backlink profile if you don’t want to spend time analyzing your competitors.

These tools can also tell you if your competitors have any broken baclinks. If they do, you may be able to sweep in and contact a webmaster and may even earn yourself a backlink in return.

What Are the Best Ways to Improve Local NAP with Citation Building?

There are a few different types of citation building. Unstructured citations and structured. So, what’s the difference? 

Structured citations are mentions of your business on third-party sites that include your NAP. High-authority sites like this include Facebook Business Page, Foursquare, and many others. 

Unstructured citations are listenings on any other random website like blog posts, videos, etc. 

Both are important in their own way and help build citations and rank authority. 

Another great way to improve your local NAP and citations would be to create custom citations based on your industry and area. Two good places to start with creating directory citations are these lists:

  • Top Local Citations By Category
  • Top Local Citations By City

With these lists, you can find the TOP directories that you should be listed in based on your situation.

When building these listings, you’ll want to make sure to fully fill out the profile, including your business description, hours, photos, NAP, and more.

Citations can be a bit of a pain to create yourself and pretty time-consuming (which is why we created a service that will do this for you called HOTH Local).


Local citations are a vastly important part of local SEO and are a vital part of any digital marketing strategy. Whether you are working towards the goal of getting on Google Maps‘ top page or if you’re just trying to get more trustworthy citations. 

Prioritizing NAP and other SEO methods can boost and improve your traffic, business, and legitimacy in the eyes of Google.

Not sure where to go from here? Schedule a call with one of our experts today! You can also sign up for free and check out our awesome SEO resources.

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