What is Citation SEO – The Complete Guide

on SEO November 01st, 2022

If you’re trying to rank a local business website on Google and other search engines, you need to focus heavily on citation SEO.

Before the digital era, local businesses listed their services and products in printed business directories. Today, modern companies have to take a similar approach and list their services on digital directories to improve their local search rankings. These are a type of citation and they are essential to get visitors from your local area.

But, what are search engine optimization citations? And, how does citation building impact SEO?

In this article, we’ll share the definition of citations in search engine optimization and discuss how these impact local results. We’ll also go over the importance of citation building, claiming listings across all relevant platforms, and optimizing every online reference of your company.

What Are Citations in SEO?

Simply put, a citation is any reference to your business that appears online. These can be categorized into two different types, which are structured and unstructured citations.

Traditionally citations should include basic information like your company name, address, and phone number. This is also known as your local NAP information. It’s essential because NAP details are among the first pieces of information that users look for when trying to find local businesses.

We’ll discuss the differences between these two later in this article, although it’s important to update your business data regardless of the type of citation it appears in.

what are citations in SEOWhy Citations Are Important

Before going any further, it’s crucial to understand the value of citations for SEO.

The right citation can help a potential customer understand your service area and determine how your services work.

Not only this, industry-specific directories like local chamber websites and other local business associations can help Google understand your company and match local searches to your pages more accurately. Which, in turn, can boost your domain authority metrics and increase your chances of getting top local rankings.

Types of Citations

Citations sources vary tremendously, but these can be categorized into two different types. These are structured and unstructured citations.

Here, it’s also important to note that there are dozens of different citation categories. As a matter of fact, the category of the local citation is more valuable than the website having high domain authority.

In this sense, it’s better to build citations from low-domain authority sites that are extremely relevant, rather than high-authority URLs that are not related to your industry or physical location.

Now, let’s take a closer look at structured and unstructured citation opportunities.

Structured Citations

Structured citations show the NAP data of your local business. Business directories, profiles on local search results, Google My Business listings, and social media networks are all great examples of citations with a structured format. Furthermore, most of these platforms allow you to place data beyond basic NAP info, like your business description, website, images, and so on.

These local citations are an essential part of your local SEO strategy because it helps Google verify your physical address and service area. Not only this, local directories can become a sustainable source of potential customers, even if their volume doesn’t match search engines.

Unstructured Citations

Unstructured citations don’t include NAP details or additional information. These simply mention your business name as part of a bigger piece of content. For this reason, it’s common for every unstructured citation to appear on a blog post or similar piece of content.

Although they don’t appear to be as informative as their structured counterparts, unstructured local citations SEO is an important practice. Having your business mentioned on local sites will help balance out your appearance on local listings and improve Google’s understanding of your business.

How to Optimize Citations

Contrary to search engine optimization content, SEO local citations have to look and feel the same across all platforms. In other words, primary data aggregators, local listing sites, and all other citation sources should have the same business information.

Business listings can appear on a huge number of sources, especially when you factor in every local business directory. But, it’s possible to track down all websites that have your name, address, and phone number using a local citation finder.

Once you use this tool to track down every business listing, you can start building citations properly. This can become a time-consuming process if you don’t have the right tools. There are a few ways to accelerate the process, like working with an digital marketing agency that provides directory listings management services.

Here are some of the details you’ll want to update about your business online.

Consistency of NAP

Whether it’s on Apple Maps, Facebook, or Yelp, your NAP data should be the same across all platforms.


If your citations for local SEO allow, include a concise description of the services or products you offer.

Website URL

As part of your citations local SEO plan, add a link to the most relevant service or landing page on your site.

Business Category

Make sure that most, if not all of the citations are coming from either general or industry-specific sources and that your business appears in the right category.


Google local SEO citations and other platforms allow you to add photos to your profile as a business owner. But, it’s also a good idea to encourage customers to share their experiences and images on these platforms as well.


Reviews are an essential part of most directories like Yelp and Google Maps. While optimizing your Google map citations for local SEO, you also need to evaluate your reviews and find ethical ways to increase the number of good reviews on your profile.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Citations Search Engine Optimization

What are Local SEO Citations?

A citation is any mention of your company by name, but this can also include information like address and contact information.

Are Citations good for SEO?

Yes, citations have a profound SEO effect that ranges from better search engine visibility to more engaged traffic.

Is Google My Business a Citation?

Yes, Google is among the most important citation sites to make sure your data is updated with the most recent information.


Updating citation sites is essential for the success of your Local SEO campaign. Need help updating your business profile across all relevant sources? Contact our professional team at Fannit today and our team will be glad to help.

Neil Eneix

My brother Keith and I started Fannit in 2010 and have been very fortunate to work with a wonderful family of clients, watching their businesses grow through the power of digital marketing. At the office, I work with our clients on developing out their business strategy as well as nurturing our relationships. It’s amazing how much influence and power SEO and good content can have over a business’ health. Connect with me on LinkedIn >