Local SEO citations: Start building your local entity

March 24, 2023
Casey Cuene
Read in
3 minutes

Momentic works with a lot of hyperlocal businesses. A recurring topic that almost always comes up when we start building SEO roadmaps for these clients is what business citations are going to be most effective for their specific local SEO goals. "Effectiveness" is why we always start with the essentials, then move on to a more targeted approach to building citations.

Remember: just because you can build a link, doesn’t mean you should build the link.

Before we get too deep into which citations are most important, let’s do a quick refresher on what we mean by “citations” and why they’re important.

<div class="post-note">What are citations?<br />A “citation” is a mention of your business’ Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) on a website other than your own. They can sometimes include other elements like a website link, bio, hours, services, and more. But at a high level, the NAP is the only requirement.</div>

<div class="post-alert">Why are citations important?<br />Consistent mentions of your business’ NAP from authoritative websites build credibility for your brand in local search algorithms and help Google piece together information about the business in its knowledge graph. Achieving both of these usually results in better rankings in local search results.</div>

Choosing citations for your local business

The sky's the limit for places on the internet to obtain links for your business. But when it comes to citations, what's important is quality and relevance; not quantity. Remember, we're trying to help customers find us and help Google understand the business' entity.

<div class="post-note-cute">Related reading<br />Entities are why you should focus on topics instead of keywords<span class="material-symbols-outlined">open_in_new</span></div>

Must-have citations for all local businesses 

  1. Google Maps/Google Business - The free listing service provided by Google is an absolute must. Claiming your profile will also give you control on how your business appears for branded searches. Read Momentic's Google Business Profile Guide
  2. Bing Places for Business - This is the Bing equivalent of Google Business and is just as important. But make sure you login at least once every six months or else your business may be marked closed by Bing due to inactivity. 
  3. Apple Business Connect - With Apple working on a search engine of their own and Apple Maps being the default map app on iPhones, it is going to be important to claim your business on Apple’s new listing service.
  4. Yelp - Yelp has reigned supreme as far as directories go that aren’t affiliated with a search engine or map service. The problem with listing your business on Yelp, though, is that it’s hard to get positive reviews unless you pay Yelp. (Yes, we know… bad business practices) Negative reviews can significantly impact your online reputation and potentially deter potential customers.
  5. Facebook - Even if you don’t anticipate being active on Facebook, establishing a page for the sake of having the citation is recommended. It’s also good for brand credibility and reputation management. 

Focus on citations within your niche

The websites and services previously mentioned are recommended for all businesses. But there are plenty of industry specific websites and directories that you should strongly consider creating a listing on. The easiest way to find these websites is to perform a non-branded search for your industry and city.

<div class="post-action">For example, a pediatric clinic located in Milwaukee, WI could search for “pediatric doctor Milwaukee” on Google and they’d see Healthgrades and U.S. News.</div>

Screenshot from Google search for "pediatric clinic milwaukee" that shows healthgrades.com and health.usnews.com in the search results.
Google search for "pediatric clinic Milwaukee" | Google, March 2023

When you find industry specific directory websites, you’ll have to look to see if they accept new submissions for the directory. The footer is a great place to start your search.

A screenshot of the Healthgrades.com footer showing the link to the "Claim Your Free Profile" page
"Claim Your Free Profile" example | Healthgrades, March 2023

Most industries are going to have directories focused around your type of business. If you are having trouble finding them, you could also try searching for one of your competitors by name and looking through the search results for search results that are directories. 

Don’t forget hyperlocal citations!

An easy and often overlooked citation opportunity are websites that are local to your specific area. Those could be local chamber of commerce websites, business organizations, and local media outlets. These types of websites send strong local signals to the search engines and are highly relevant to your business. Below are some additional hyperlocal sites to consider.

  • Neighborhood Associations
  • Newspapers
  • Radio and TV Stations
  • Business Districts
  • Building Owner of Shared Spaces
  • Digital Media Companies

<div class="post-note">Learn more SEO tips specifically for small and local business websites</div>

Citations to avoid

Focus on relevancy and location before anything else. You’ll save a ton of time and you’ll be better off in the long-run. The internet has endless citation opportunities. There are a large number of citation websites that are going to provide little SEO value and probably won’t help real users discover your business. Work smarter, not harder and focus on building citations locally and within your industry. 

<div class="post-alert">Be wary about citation building packages from Local SEO providers. Make sure you ask the question, "How will building these citations help real customers find my business and help Google understand more about the entity behind my business?"</div>

<div class="post-note-cute">Dominate Your Business' Local SEO market with Momentic<span class="material-symbols-outlined">open_in_new</span>. Set up a consultation with the Local SEO experts.</div>

Bar chart showing increase over time with Momentic logo