case study local citations

Case Study: Sending Local Citations to an Affiliate Site

If you’re in local SEO, you’re likely very familiar with local citations and business directory listings.

In case you’re not up-to-speed, citations are basically directory listings that include the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of local businesses.  Some primary examples of citations are: Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local, Yelp, etc.

Citations are the foundation for climbing up rankings in the Map Pack (now known as the 3-Pack or Snack Pack).  The more times that Google can match your Google My Business NAP with directory citations, the more you’ll see yourself climbing up the map rankings.

snack pack

But what does this have to do with affiliate SEO?  Most SEOs don’t try to rank their affiliate websites locally or in Google Maps.   No one searches for “garcinia cambogia chicago” nor do they look for the closest location they can “get rid of acne before prom.”

Although you might have no incentive for ranking your affiliate site locally, here are 6 compelling reasons why you should consider adding citations to your backlink blueprint.

6 Reasons to Send Citations to Your Affiliate Money Site

1. Pillow Anchors

pillow anchorsPillow anchors are links that cover your non-critical, yet essential anchors that make your backlink profile look natural.  I’m referring to brand, URL, topic and miscellaneous anchors (read more about choosing anchor text properly).

Most SEOs prefer to send their target anchors using high-quality PBNs, while sending their pillow anchors from cheaper low-power sources, such as press releases, web 2.0s, blog comments, and now… citations.

Citations will typically get you either a URL anchor or an image link.  Both are great for anchor diversity.

2. Link Source Diversity

Many people argue that in order for a link profile to look natural, links should come from a variety of different sources, such as PBNs, Web 2.0’s, forums, comments, etc.  I don’t completely agree, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to diversify your link sources, as long as you’re diversifying with links that real websites and real businesses use (more on this in a later article).

Business directory citations are a great example of a common link source that a real business would use.  Blog comments, forum profiles… not so much.  However, citations are 100% natural links utilized by real businesses every day.

3. Branding and Trust

trust meOne of the main problems that affiliate SEOs face is establishing trust with Google.  To deal with this, we typically do everything we can to disguise the affiliate aspect of our sites (such as cloaking affiliate links).

By creating citations for a money site, we attempt to show that this website has a physical office location and is thus a real business.  This is just one extra trust-generating step that can set you apart from your competitors.

4. Establishing Local Relevance

If your goal is to rank in a specific country, then you’re probably making efforts to establish local relevance by getting a country-specific TLD and telling Webmaster Tools that your website targets that country.

Take it a step further and get citations from that country to further establish that your website is relevant in that locale.

I’m ranking in Australia, India, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Brazil.  Each and every time I’ve sent country-specific citations to a website, it’s gone up in rankings.


Here’s a great case study of me sending citations to a Spanish site in order to establish local relevance.

This affiliate site in the weight loss niche ranks in Chile, Peru, and Mexico. On April 21 I sent Chilean citations to the site. Watch the rankings in start to pull in the lead, despite being the most competitive country for the search.

citations for relevance

5. Link Velocity

link velocityThe rate at which you gain or lose links is a ranking factor.  If you’re gaining links, then you’ll see a positive increase in rankings.  If you’re losing links, it’s seen as a negative ranking factor and will affect your rankings aversely.

So what’s the solution?  Add more links.  But it’s not that simple.  Send too many links without the social signals and traffic to justify it, and you’ll find yourself slapped back to page 10.

There are a few link types that can get away with high link velocity and citations are one of them.  Google knows that real businesses will go out and create their own directory listings and most likely in batches.  Therefore, it’s no problem if you go out and create 15-20 citations in a single day.

This additional worry-free increase in link velocity is one of the major bonuses for using citations.

6. Price

Last but not least, one of the best things about citations is that they’re cheap.  You can go out and spend an afternoon making them yourself for free, or simply outsource them for less than $20.

How to Create Citations for Affiliate Websites

Here’s the step-by-step process on how I create these citations.

1) Create a Fake Business Address

Find the address of a commercial business office in the city you’d like to setup your fake business at.


Choose a Suite number that isn’t already registered with Google My Business.

For this example, I’ll use:
2515 Camino Del Rio S Suite 311
San Diego, CA 92108

2) Add Your Address to Your Website and Social Profiles

First, add your fake address and a fake phone number to the Contact Page of your money site.

Next, you’ll be adding Schema markup code to the footer.php of your website.  The markup will include this same exact fake address and phone number.  For more details on this, download my free Onsite SEO Guide from the sidebar of my blog.

Lastly, go to each of your Social Fortress properties and add the address where applicable.  This includes your Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Bonus Points: For added trust, you can take the steps of getting Google My Business (GMB) verified.  I’ve done this a few times for affiliate sites and haven’t noticed much difference, but if you’re a completionist like I am, go for it.

3) Order Citations from PBN Butler

As mentioned before, you can create citations yourself for free, or simply use PBN Butler’s Citation service.  I always go with the 15-citation (non-boosted package).  Turnaround time is roughly 2-3 days for delivery.

Be sure to use the exact address and phone number from Step 1.

citations form

Note: PBN Butler offers a boosted Citation package in which they send a tiered link structure to your citations.  This likely helps for map pack rankings (however, I’ve never tested it), but for all purposes of this exercise, boosted citations are not needed.

4) Index the Citations

The only thing frustrating about this whole endeavor is that citations are a royal pain-in-the-ass to index.  You’ve got to hit them with the kitchen sink.

Here are the steps that I take to get them indexed.


Now comes the fun part: Wait for the results.

Here are results from three live, money-generating affiliate sites.

Case 1: Medium Competition – Health Niche – Foreign SEO – 38% Improvement


Case 2: Low Competition – Beauty Niche – US SEO – 29% Improvement


Case 3: High Competition – Health Niche – US SEO – 0% Improvement


Result Summary

2 out of 3 of these testcases experienced significant gains while one of them (the high competition, high search volume testcase) was pretty flat.  While we don’t have enough data to conclude what was the cause of not seeing gains in testcase #3, we can certainly say that it didn’t hurt. And for $20, it’s definitely worth trying.

I’m interested in hearing more about your results with this tactic.  Give it a shot, come back and please share your results below.

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  • Nice read yet again with some very actionable advice. Will be adding citations to a few of my affiliate sites and wait and see what happens.

  • Great info Matt! I think building citations is indeed only going to help. I’ve never tried it myself to be honest but I’m definitely going to try this now on one of my more challenging affiliate sites!

  • Great case study Matt. I have been wondering about this very thing recently as my client-seo friends have been talking a lot about citations but I didn’t know anyone who was doing it for affiliate sites. The thing that put me off was trying to get the fake address verified, but if that is only required for Google then it’s not such an issue.

  • Great case study Matt, will try it out.
    One Question: For a citation for an affiliate site, would you use a money page inner URL or a homepage URL?

  • This is great! Exactly what I was looking for. Two questions though…

    1. The false address thing seems a little shady to me. Is there any risk in this? What I mean is, is there any risk of the false address being discovered and some penalty being imposed?

    2. If by website targets the US and the UK and I add citations for the US, will be UK ranking suffer?


    • 1) Not nearly as risky as anything else we’re doing in blackhat SEO.
      2) Probably won’t help or hurt.

  • Nice finding Matt,
    You keep bombing us with these great bits of wisdom that I keep coming back for more…
    I’ve got several affiliate sites that I created a brand page for, but it turns out you can’t add a maps listing to them or attribute them to a location, you can only do so if you created the page as a local business page.

    Would you recommend deleting the brand pages and then re-create them as local business pages? Would it even worth all the hassle if I’m not going to verify the maps listing? Last time when I created a local page without verifying it, it didn’t even get indexed.

  • Hi Matt, very interesting read, I had never thought of using citations to add link diversity and URL links. You mention above using your video sitemap trick to get the citations indexed. I’m not sure I understand how this would work for the citations we would create. Could you explain please?

    • Hi Chris,

      1) Use the plugin to create a video sitemap.
      2) Edit the sitemap to include the URLs for your citations.
      3) Ping.

      • Hey Matt,

        I am still confused about using Video sitemap index trick for citations. Lets say that PBN Butler created a citation at Yelp and now how will I index that through the video sitemap index.

        As far as video sitemap index goes, I can do the youtube video trick as you’ve detailed out for a blog but confused about citation sites.

        Thanks in advance


  • Hi Matt,

    Do you suggest only circa 15 citations per affiliate site?

    On a slightly seperate topic but sticking with citations, how many would you normally do for a local client or ‘rank & rent’ site? – I’m UK based btw



    • For affiliate, 15 citations does the trick for me. You don’t want to do too many since, you still want your link profile to be similar to the rest of the niche. For local, look at the top 5 rankers and do 20% more than the average.

  • Matt, I just wanted to double check this:
    Do you use the 15 citations package only once on your affiliate sites? (to the homepage)… Or do you use them each time for a different inner page?
    Say for example my site “” has 3 product reviews:
    Should I use the 15-citation package only ONCE (to the homepage)? Or I can use it on each different money page (making a total of x3 times, one per page)?
    Excellent article as usual! Thank you!

  • Could you please be a bit more clear about step 1? I added a fake address to Google map maker but it got denied with the reason that the business is not registered in the Chamber of Commerce (The Netherlands). Am I missing something?

    • You dont need to actually go out and register with Google unless you want to. The basis of this all is to find an address that is not already listed so you can add it to your site (schema) and build citations for it.

  • Hi Matt,

    Interesting case study. I have a question for you. Suppose I create a fake business address in Google places. How would I verify the address? I am from India and here Google sends a letter to the physical address with a pin to verify the listing. Is the process same in the U.S?

  • Matt, it just occurred to me… What if my affiliate site is in Spanish, and I get profitable traffic from both Mexico and Spain.

    Which country should I use for my citations in that case? Mexico or Spain?

    Also… Creating citations from just ONE of these countries (say Spain), isn’t going to mess up my rankings with the OTHER country? (say Mexico)

    P.S. Wonderful One-In-A-Lifetime webinar 2 days ago! 😀 I’m watching the replay right now (and probably will do it again at least x5 more times next month until the info gets buried into my subconscious mind). Thank you so much for sharing your time and knowledge with us, the SEO mortals 😛 haha. Jokes aside, you’re changing lives pal (I know you have changed mine). Thank you, man.

  • Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the awesome information that you are providing in this blog. This is way better than the paid content that i have here in my country.

    I have two questions regarding citations and the Trust Pulling method.

    For example: I have a Local SEO site that i´m ranking in the first page for a lot of terms in different locations like:
    And i´m renting then for different business owners.

    How would you approach the Citations and Trust Pulling?
    A: Create 1 social fortress for the root domain and send some PBN links to it and create some Citations to the root domain also?


    B: Create social fortress for invidual pages like and send Citations to the same individual pages?

    Thanks again for the great work!

    Also thanks for the great webinar that you made for Lion Zion

    Big fan!

    • Thanks for your nice words. Glad to have helped you as much as I have.

      About your question… go with option A. It’s what normal businesses do, and will perform better.

  • Hey Matt was wondering if you could help me locate the ‘text file’ in wordpress, to index my citations I have 1 video embed on my home page currently but unable to find any tags etc or around this. I have followed all 5 steps but struggling at this point. Thanks

    “The sitemap-video.xml file that is created by the plugin is a text file. Copy one of the entries that it created for one of your posts and create a new entry. An entry starts with and ends with . Between the and tags, you’ll edit the URL there and input the path of the URL”

  • Hey,

    If we add a fake address and fake phone number, doesnt google have to verify this information?
    I thought they made a phone call or sent a post code to confirm your address before listing you on the
    local maps listings? How do we get past this?

    • This has nothing to do with getting Google My Business verified. That’s a whole separate story.

      • You said in point #2 that you could also try to get GMB verified, I was wondering how to do this with a fake a address & numbers for an affiliate site as you also said in #2 that you have done it a couple of times. I was just wondering how to do this with a fake address & phone for an affiliate site.

        • Find someone who lives in the city you want to verify in that can help you out with post office forwarding.

  • Hey Matt, how do you value each indexed citation with a link back to your site when running your anchor text ratios?

    For example: If I get all 15 citations indexed, and they all have url backlinks (follow or nofollow), would you count that as 15 addition url backlinks?

  • Hey m8
    Can you send different location citations to different pages with the same affect?

    For example If I had 1 page for fat loss group new york, then another page for fat loss group chicago

    Can you send NYC citations to 1 page and then chicago citations to the other page to help rank each page in each term..

    would this work or look weird

  • Fantastic as usual… Please keep adding such valuable Posts.

    One question to Link Velocity:

    If you added links to quickly and you have been Shot out of Top100 -> will Social Signals afterwards help or what would you Do then?

    Thank you