The Ultimate Guide to SEO Citations

Citations are one of the key factors in local and technical SEO, forming the foundations for a successful strategy. Considered a ranking factor by search engines, SEO citation is all about listings in authentic and authoritative online directories that can bolster your business – in the eyes of users, Google and other search engines.

When set up correctly, citations can be fairly simple to manage and can lead to improved local rankings. However, if done wrong, unpicking incorrect citations can be lengthy, so getting it right early on is crucial.

To help you get on track, our team of SEO experts has created this guide on everything you should know about citations. That way, you can quickly start logging your listings and reap the rewards.

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So, what are citations?

Think of citations as an online log or reference to a business online. Usually, it will feature their name, address, and phone number – known as NAP – with ‘citations’ referring to listings across several websites.

The most common form of citations is in an online business directory, but others do exist – with varying amounts of additional information if needed.

You can also have ‘brand’ or ‘image’ citations. This is where a website might reference your business or use your photography within their locally optimised content – hopefully with a link back to yours ‘citing’ their usage.

Both of these can be quick SEO wins, but ensure you’re mindful of which directories or websites are housing your citations so Google doesn’t think you’re being ‘spammy’!

Why are citations important?

As well as being a crucial part of local SEO, citation offers plenty of wider benefits.

Boost rankings

When it comes to citations, ranking is the main reason why we love it so much in local SEO. Getting your website listed in trusted directories is the easiest way to show authority to Google, improving ranking signals and sending your business to the top of SERPs when users are looking for related terms.

However, you must be selective with your citations. This is because the quality, quantity, and accuracy of listings all play a role in how search engines rank your online presence.

Easy wins

Take the title with a pinch of salt. However, one perk of listings is that it’s fairly easy to nab high-ranking search positions by ‘piggy-backing’ off popular online directories. For business citations, Yelp or Trustpilot often rank on page one for local searches – making it easy to be cited in top place with very little effort.

Gain referrals and traffic

Humans are creatures of habit. Many people turn to tried and trusted directories to browse citations, choosing where to go or shop through many different authority and trust markers. 

As such, getting listed in as many trustworthy directories can give you ‘referral traffic’ – which could turn into conversions or footfall very quickly.

Picking the best citations for you

With so much on offer, you won’t be able to get your business in every citation. And frankly, you don’t want to. Although citation is seen as a numbers game, our experts stress that a “quality over quantity approach” is paramount to success – or else you could face penalisation from Google for spamming.

To help you narrow things down, start with online business directories that are most relevant to your industry and, in turn, your audience.

Once this list has been nailed down, you can begin to collate some of the best

After establishing your list of industry-specific online business directories, you’ll want to get a list of general citations. BrightLocal and Moz both have excellent lists for you to explore.

Improving your citations

Although citation seems straightforward, there’s more to it than throwing your business’s name out there and getting it listed. Actively managing them is all about optimisation, which starts with a little housekeeping.

NAP Consistency

No one likes outdated information. So ensure NAP consistency across all of your listings by having a consistent name, address, and phone numbers – which can have a significant impact on your rankings.


Need an opportunity to add top keywords? Use your business descriptions to help improve local rankings by adding relevant search terms to help search engines contextualise your offering.

Website Link

Obvious? Yes. Important? Even more so. Although you might be tempted to link straight to the homepage, go directly to the location page instead to boost SEO citations. This reduces bounce rate as users – and search engines – get the information they are looking for much quicker, rather than navigating your whole website.


As visual learners, adding a photo that is relevant to your listing – such as an image of your business and services – can encourage conversions and help you rank, if the image file name, alt texts, and descriptions have been properly optimised.

Final thoughts

Logging and improving your citations is one of the easiest aspects of local SEO, but it’s also crucial to manage them well. From cross-checking your details to focusing your efforts on securing high-quality directories, you can fix outstanding problems and quickly boost rankings.

However, if you need a little extra help – or would like us to talk about all things SEO for more clarity – our experts can help.

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