What are local citations and why is it vital for local SEO?

Manual Local Citation Services


Local citations are the mentions of your brick and mortar business in business portals, map listings, GPS coordinates, data aggregators, directories and various other online properties where potential clients search for your business services. The most important aspect of local business citation is the NAP (Name, Address & Phone Number) of your business is listed consistently in reputed and relevant sites such as Google My Business (GMB), YELP, Foursquare etc. However local citations are not limited to only NAP information, but a wide variety of information from hours of operation, driving direction, reviews and much more.

Building local citations, managing the listings is a vital and ongoing process which is vital for your local business to rank on top of searches. It provides a higher online visibility ensuring your clients find your business service when they need it. With accurate local citations in industry specific niches, and hyper local directories, your business will attract new clients and revenue from online searches. Local citations of your business are vital as your competition may steal your business or even worse tarnish your brand using your business info.



How is structured citation different from unstructured citation?

Structured Citation is a clean format of your business with a mandatory NAP (Name, Address & Phone Number) of your business along with essential business info. GMB, Yelp, Superpages, Hotfrog fall under structured citations. Structured citation listings are your shared online media where you can create, edit, update or delete your business listings. You have exclusive rights over the structured citation and you own them.


Unstructured citation is a random mention of your business on a local news site, blog or in any third party lists, reviews etc. Unstructured citation does not adhere to a certain format to display your business, but may mention your business randomly in the content and may include your competition as well. You may not have any control over these citations but if it results in false information or negative publicity you can contact the webmasters to update or remove the citations.



What information do I need to build local citations?


- Compile a list of reputed and relevant citation sources

The first and foremost step to build citations is to look for reputed online portals where you can get your business listed with as much details as possible. While researching for citation sources, you have to look for highly reputed sources where users trust the data (eg. Google My Business, Yelp, BBB, DNB). These portals serve globally and have businesses in every street listed on them with map and dozens of extra fields related to the business. You can Google for citation list, brightlocal,whitespark and moz have a good curated list of citation sources. The next citation source will be hyper local directories, local chamber of commerce which lists business in a relatively precise locality (eg. tampagov.net). Make sure your business serves that locality to avoid unwanted calls. Another effective citation sources is industry specific portals, for eg.(dentisits.com, hvaclocal.com).


- Prepare data for building citations

Collect accurate data for the below fields and organize it in a spread sheet.

Name of Business: Exact business name as incorporated

Address: Incorporated address where the main business is operated from. Building Name/Number, Street Address, Locality, City, State/Region, Zip code, Country.

Phone Number:Your business Landline number, Mobile Number & Toll free number if any.

Category of Business: Identify the category of your business; in some cases you can build citations under multiple business categories.

Days/Hours of Operation: Indicate the days and hours of operation. This is very important when building citations and if you offer emergency services you can provide 24X7.

Driving Directions: Typically you can mention landmarks, parking lots etc. along with access roads to your business.

About Business: Vision, Mission of Business, History, founders, directors and other information.

Photos & Videos: Multimedia, Photos and videos of events, celebrations etc.

Payment Accepted: Mode of payments eg. Credit Card, Check, Cash, Online transfers etc.

Geo-coordinates: Latitude and Longitude of business location.

Logo &Tagline: Establishing your brand with logo, Tagline.

Email: Business email Id(s).

Social Media Properties:GMB(Google My Business), FB Business Page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

Alternate Phone Numbers: Alternate phone numbers if any.

Certificate: Certifications from trusted organizations like Chamber of commerce, ISO etc.

Awards: Digital copy of your awards.

Events & Promotions: Events and promotions such as founder’s day etc.


What is an automated local citation service?

Automated local citation service involves a custom built platform where you will provide the above business information and use it for building local citations. The automated citation platform will submit the business information to create and update your business listings. Basically you will provide the data initially while creating local citations and whenever you update your business details all you have to do is to provide data once, which will be reflected on all the business portals available in the automated citation building platform. Automated local citation services are fast, easy and consistent to build or update local citations.


What is manual local citation service?

Manual local citation service provide you with unlimited opportunities as you are your own boss and not dependent on any third party software. You need to manually search and identify local citation sources which may take a significant amount of time. As and when you find a reliable citation source, you have to check if your business exists there. In case your business is listed in the citation source, you have to check if it is listed with current, accurate business information. If not you will have to claim your business or contact the webmaster of the citation source and request access to your data. You have to repeat this process on as many directories you wish to build local citations. You will have to create exclusive accounts in the citation sources for your business, confirm your business and save it for future reference. Similarly when your business information is changed (you may have changed your location or phone number), you will have to login to every account and manually update the data. This sounds like a daunting job but no pain no gain

Automatic vs. Manual Local Citation Services


Data Submission Process for Automatic & Manual Citation Services:

Automatic citation service requires you to fill data in a single form which will be used to submit to various business directories and data aggregators. Depending on different automated citation platforms, the number of directories varies from 20 to 119. The master data filled in the single form will be accurately displayed in all the local citation sources.

Manual citation services involve in filling out several forms (a citation source may have a registration form and more than one form to submit business data), confirming the data and claim the listings. Data preparation is not limited to a set of fields but is dependent on the citation source of your choice. The manual citation process is much more complicated and requires lot of human intervention to get your business listed in the directories.


Time Consumed for Automatic Citation vs. Manual Citation Service:

Automated citation services saves a lot of time as all you have to do is to prepare the master data for citations and let the automated platform do the rest of the job. The time taken for 20 citations and 200 citations using an automated citation service is almost the same as the number of directories does not impact the time to build citations as the platform takes the data from the master data form.

Manual citation service is a time consuming job as from registration to confirmation and entering business data requires lot of time and effort. The time depends on how many business directories you submit the business data to and the various form fields on those directories.


Precision and Accuracy of Data:

Automatic citation services have accurate data on all the directories as they utilize data from a single master source. The data is 100% accurate in all the citations. When it comes to precise data like the business category or any custom fields not mentioned in the master data, automated citation services try to match the closest possible relation.

Manual citations are done by humans and prone to data mismatch, errors in the listings. On the contrary manual citations are very precise as every field is custom filled by Human's who understand the business better than automated tools.


Quality and Number of Citation Sources:

Automatic local citations have a fixed number of citation sources and you do not have any control over it. You cannot add your favorite citation sources here.

Manual citation services provide you the opportunity to explore more specific and niche citation sources to highlight your business which is a big advantage.


Price for Automated and Manual Citation Services:

Automated citation rates are generally ongoing with a monthly or yearly subscription rate which varies from $30 to $499 depending on the citation sources in the platform. This is a lot more than the rates of manual submission service.

Manual citations service is absolutely free if you have the time to build the citations in your leisure time, which is interesting or a onetime fee initially if you hire an agency to do your citations. Any update will require additional time and rate which is billed by the hour. Manual citation service charges are much lower compared to using automated citation services.



So what should you opt for? Well it depends on how much time you have, how big your business is, how competitive your Industry is. For startups and small business please try building your citations manually by yourself and then can use your staff or hire a local SEO agency to do the job. Manual citation will be an advantage over your competition as you can be your boss for your citations compared to you and your competitor having the same citation sources with automated citation service. If you are an agency looking to build white label citations for your clients please feel free to contact our team.


Category :

SEO News

Tags :

Citations, local business

About Guna Nadar

Guna Nadar

Brief Info about Guna Nadar +

I mostly write technical aspects and not much into creative writing. For the past decade I worked along with top notch SEO & Internet Marketing professionals which naturally lured me into the world of Search Engines. When I am not writing I read from comics to philosophy.Antiques, Fishing, hunting are my passions. Currently I am working on Google Penalty protection and .... more info