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Ryan Sciamanna is an entrepreneur in Greater Cincinnati. He started his 1st business in 2009 & sold it in 2018. He's been playing around on the internet ever since making passive income & providing web services to businesses.

How important are citations for local SEO?  How about very?!?  😀

If citations, in general, are very important, then key citations are extremely important, especially for local SEO.

We are about to get you up to speed on citations in no time flat!  This is how you put your business on maps, allow customers to leave you reviews, and more.

What are citations?

Citations also referred to as directory listings, are simply your business’ information on another website that aggregates business data.

Your business’ NAP, or Name, Address, Phone, are the most important bits of info you can house on these 3rd party directory or citation listing websites.  If your business’ NAP is not consistent on these other websites as to what is shown on your website or business Facebook page, for example, they can actually be detrimental as the search engines will lose confidence in the accuracy of your data floating around the web.

The term NAP gets thrown around a lot, but the need for consistency in your business data entends to anything that should be the same no matter where someone finds it online.  This type of data includes your website, business hours, and so on.

Why your listing in their directory is so important

It is so important a small, local business builds out a decent amount of citations to solidify them in their local market and add legitimacy to their business.  You do this by claiming, verifying, and fully populating the listings with accurate and up to date information.

This is such an easy thing to do, it should be a no-brainer, assuming you know about it.  Many of your local, small business competitors may very well not because they don’t have a local SEO expert like us sharing this information with them!

It’s easy, but it can be very time consuming and frustrating to build these out manually.  We have a solution for this we’ll share a little later on and cover more in-depth in next week’s blog post.

The best citations for local businesses

We just mentioned a tool to build citations, but there are some major citations you should actually take the time to build out manually.  We also build these key citations out manually for our clients and use the tool for the less important ones.

Short List of Best Local SEO Citations in Order of Importance:

  1. Google My Business
  2. Bing Places
  3. Yelp
  4. Angie’s List
  5. Apple Maps
  6. Nextdoor
  7. BBB

This list is our expert opinion of the most valuable citations for a local service business.  Some of these platforms may not offer listings for certain business types, for example, Angie’s List only allows service-based businesses to claim their listing.

A quick explanation of our list and order

Google My Business is hands down #1, it’s nearly as important as your website if you’re a local business.  Bing Places is Bing’s version of GMB, it gets you on Bing Maps.  Yelp is trusted and shown high in the search results in Google’s and Bing’s SERPs, so is Angie’s List.  Also, people will actually contact you directly from these citation sites unlike many of the lesser-known ones.

Apple Maps puts your business on Apple Maps but the caveat is your business must have a commercial business address.  Nextdoor is great because this is hyperlocal.  If you get a buzz going in your neighborhood on Nextdoor, it could be a game-changer.  The BBB is the Better Business Bureau for you younger people who have no clue what it stood for!  🤣  The BBB is trusted and valued by older consumers…

Resources and tools for building citations like a Pro

We only recommend one tool for building citations the ‘smart’ way.  There are others such as Whitespark, but our favorite tool, BrightLocal has never let us down so we stick with it.  Since we’ve used it so much, we’ve paid BrightLocal well over $3,000 in the past 2 years to build out citations for our own businesses and our clients.

Whitespark is still a great reference tool for citations as they break down the best citations for each business type by country.  Check out the best citations by business category here.

Then, come back and use this tool to build out the citations for you!

We recommend paying to build out these lesser-known citations because they do still provide a little value, but the sites are finicky!  It takes 5-15 minutes to claim, verify, and populate these listings.  A lot of them glitch as you are populating the data and you need to start over.

Trust us, act like a business owner, and delegate this task to BrightLocal and pay their nominal fee to create them on your behalf!

Word of caution about paying citation sites for advertising

Never pay Yelp.  Ever.  Trust us.  Unless you like throwing money away, then, knock yourself out!

Possibly try paying Nextdoor or Angie’s List.  Angie’s List was great from 2012 to 2015 in our opinion.

Use extreme caution when dealing with HomeAdvisor because they are legitimate crooks in our book but we have clients telling us they love them – all clients that say they have had a good experience with HomeAdvisor signed up prior to 2016, it’s gone way downhill for new users but they seem to show preferred treatment to their longtime users.  Interestingly enough, Angie’s List bought HomeAdvisor in 2016…interesting…

Advanced citation building and data aggregators

Finally, to wrap up this info-packed blog post by Optimized SEO and Websites, let’s recap and then cover a couple of advanced citation building tactics for those who read the whole article!

The most important thing is to build out your ‘key citations’ whether your list matching our list or not.  There are industry-specific citation sites that are great for the business types they serve.  After getting your ‘key 7’ or so fully populated, etc., then build out 20-30 business BrightLocal.

Wait for 3-6 months and consider buying 20 more citations with BrihgtLocal if there are decent quality ones left available.  They will show you the DA of the sites still available, we don’t recommend getting citations from sites with a DA of less than 35 most of the time.

If you bought more citations, wait another 3-6 months, if you did not get any new ones at this time, go ahead and purchase the data aggregator listing service.  It is important to build out 30-50 citations before doing the data aggregators.  By submitting your business info to these aggregators, they will push it out to 10’s if not 100’s of small citation sites.

It’s something so simple but it can make a world of difference for a small, local business’ SEO.

Happy citation building.  If you use our link to use BrightLocal’s tool you will get the best price offered at that time and we will get a small referral commission.  Thanks in advance.