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What Are Citations in SEO? (5 Steps to Build Them)

What Are Citations In SEO? Featured Image

Citations are an integral part of local SEO and, when done right, can improve the local rankings of any website. They are also valuable and can give your business wider exposure and quality traffic. As a seasoned SEO professional, I will discuss the value of citations for SEO, the types, and why they are essential to your website.

Quick Summary

  • Citations in SEO are instances where your business is referenced online by various platforms.
  • Using citations in SEO will only be relevant to your business if you get listed on trustworthy sites with high authority.
  • Unstructured citations are more valuable than structured ones because they are challenging to get and will require you to put in much effort before they can positively impact your business.

What Are Citations In SEO?

Citations in SEO are online references of your business by relevant platforms, such as social media platforms and business directories. These platforms include social media sites, directories, and even local websites.

Local SEO Citations

Apart from your business name, these sites usually have other information about your business, such as its phone number and physical address.

These details are called NAP citations because they show your business name, phone number, and address.

Why Are Citations Important in SEO?

Citations are important in SEO because of the following reasons:

1. Improves Local Rankings

Citations help search engines like Google determine whether your website is credible enough for a decent ranking.

Google Listings

Your local rankings will rise if various platforms across the internet reference your website, which gives search engines confidence that it is reliable.

The quality and accuracy of your listings also determine how Google will access your online presence and where to rank you, so do well to get your citations from high-value sources.

2. Helps Users To Discover Your Business

Users can quickly discover your business by being listed on top directories and specific sites, such as the Yellow Pages. These places are always the top choices for finding local businesses.

Another thing to note about these top directories is that they constantly dominate the search results for local queries, so getting listed on them gives your business a good chance of being discovered.

3. Get Referral Traffic

Many people often prefer to use specific directories to gain information about a particular topic before even using Google.

Web Traffic

This shows that they are loyal to those directories, and if your business is listed in them, it could generate quality referral traffic.

Types Of Citations In SEO

There are two main types of citations in SEO, and they include the following:

Structured Citations

Structured citations are the type that lists the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of a business. This type of citation is found in directories and on social media platforms.

The businesses listed in these directories usually display their information similarly, with their pages built around them.

Unstructured Citations

Unstructured citations are circumstantial mentions of a business. Businesses with this citation type are usually mentioned as passing comments on blog posts, forum posts, and press releases.


If your business has this type of citation, it shows that people know about it and have chosen to talk about it.

Top 5 Strategies For Building Citations

These are some useful strategies to start building citations:

1. Know Your Competition

To know your competition, search for the keywords you want to rank for and see the top businesses ranking for them.

Find out if they are listed in any directories and the types of citations they use. Then get your business listed in those directories and replicate the same citation they use.

Analysing Competitors

2. Get Your Business Listed With Top Data Aggressors

Top data aggressors specialize in collecting information from high-value businesses and submitting it to directories to keep it relevant and help close the information gap.

Essentially, they serve as a middleman between these businesses and directories, so providing your business information is a great way to have your business cited in the right places.

3. Claim Listings On Quality Sites

Quality sites like social media platforms and others like Yelp or Google My Business are always great for finding local businesses.

They are also good citation choices and will be worth your effort when you claim listings on them.

You can search for your business to see if it has a listing option. If there is, claim and manage it properly by adding relevant details such as pictures and service information and correcting any wrong or outdated information.

4. Focus On Unstructured Citations

After getting your business listed on all relevant online business directories and sites, you now have excellent structured citations. Next, you will need to focus on acquiring unstructured citations.

Influencer / Blogger

These types of citations are usually tricky to get and are very valuable because people need to care about your business well enough to say a few things about it.

The best way to do this is to take advantage of blogging sites and create high-quality content you can share across social media platforms for people to notice [1].

You can partner with influencers to help by getting people talking about your business, which will also serve as an unstructured citation.

5. Ensure Your Website Is Up-To-Date

Perform an audit to ensure that the information presented is up-to-date. Add relevant information that customers find helpful to your contact and about pages [2].

You should add a page containing content about your business’s history and other valuable information.

The Importance Of Citation Accuracy

Citation accuracy is essential for your business, regardless of the type of citation you use. Your business information (name, address, and phone number) must be consistent across all platforms and websites.


Failure to do this can negatively affect your local SEO and eradicate your customers’ trust in your business.

Of course, there can be slight variations in some areas, but as long as your business name, address, and phone number are consistent, you have no worries.

Why You Might Need Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools are invaluable, especially when you have made incorrect listings across multiple sources that it becomes virtually impossible to correct manually because of time constraints.

These tools can come in handy and help make these corrections at a much faster pace. They can also help improve your local SEO efforts, which is another plus.

Popular local citation management tools include MozLocal, BrightLocal, Yext, Whitespark, and N.A.P. Hunter. Choose one with the features you need to meet your objectives.

NAP inconsistencies can adversely affect your local SEO because search engines won’t be confident about the information you provide. Search engines won’t trust you.
– Zach Thompson, Digital Marketing Expert and CEO of MediaSmack


Do Citations Matter For SEO?

Yes, citations do matter for SEO. They are one of the vital factors for local SEO and are helpful for any business online seeking to gain better local search rankings.


Do Citations Have An Impact On Ranking?

Yes, citations do have an impact on ranking. So long as relevant websites and directories mention your company, they will improve your ranking.

Do SEO Citations Count As Backlinks?

No, SEO citations do not count as backlinks. They are two different metrics that are important for local SEO.

Get Started With Citations In SEO For Your Business Today

Citations in SEO are essential for your business and should be addressed if you aim to get wider exposure and better rankings.

Understand that both structured and unstructured local citations have their benefits, and one should not be favored at the expense of the other.

Once you combine citations with other relevant SEO factors, such as keyword research and on-page SEO, your business will thrive even more digitally.


Article by

Matt Diggity

Matt is the founder of Diggity Marketing, LeadSpring, The Search Initiative, The Affiliate Lab, and the Chiang Mai SEO Conference. He actually does SEO too.

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