I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had the fortune of receiving citations for not coming to a ‘complete enough’ stop at a sign. There was also that issue a few years back in Memphis where the right foot was a little heavy… Thankfully we’re not going to talk about that kind of citation.

If you are or represent a SMB with the desire to do well in local search, a citation is an important, if not the most important, contributor towards your quest for local prominence. Let’s explore…

So we’re all on the same page, the following post assumes that you are have claimed and are managing your LBL with the major SEs. If not, we will be covering how-to in future post.

A citation is a ‘mention’ of your business somewhere on the web. A citation does not require an inbound link to be useful (but its always nice!). The basic idea of a citation it that your business name and critical info, address – telephone – hours, are listed in various directories. These directories can range from data providers like SuperPages or OpenList to sites that focus on getting hyper-local like Yelp or Foursquare. As it should, web crawl happens and the data collected from the crawls helps the search engines validate that you are who you say you are in your LBL profile. As hard as it my be to believe, in the hyper-local super niche neighborhood scene, the search engines need every bit of additional assistance these citations provide. Further, it is believed that the more quality citations you have, the greater your possibility for ranking well in a local business listing.

For the sake of this post, I cruised the ol’ interweb looking for ‘burgers and fries’ in the blisteringly hot Austin, TX.

Anatomy of a Citation | Data Providers

As you will be able to tell from the screenshots below, these citations all meet the common criteria with the business name and information nestled together. None of them offer a link to the businesses sites. However, this does not diminish the value of the listing. The addresses are consistent and where available, post experience user generated reviews and ratings are displayed.


Superpages resutls for Burgers and Fries - Austin

Superpages resutls for Burgers and Fries - Austin

InsiderPages Search for Burgers and Fries - Austin

InsiderPages Search for Burgers and Fries - Austin

OpenList Search for Burgers and Fries

OpenList Search for Burgers and Fries

Anatomy of a Citation | Local Directories

Once drilled down to a specific business on sites like Yelp, the quality vs. quantity argument starts to kick in for local business ranking orders. Reviews at this level are, for all intent and purpose, real post experience feedback. If a business has a high overall opinion, the SE’s will want to serve the profile higher in the local business listings. If every review is about how horrible the business is…

Yelp Listing for Might Fine Burgers

Yelp Listing for Mighty Fine Burgers

Foursquare Listing for Mighty Fine Burgers

Foursquare Listing for Mighty Fine Burgers

outside.in Listing for Mighty Fine Burgers

outside.in listing for Mighty Fine Burgers

Anatomy of a Citation | SERPs

In the same way I used these various sources to find my way to the goodness that is Mighty Fine, the SE’s must perform something similar. Citations from these data providers and reputable directories blend in the SERPs for business name specific queries. These associative citations give the SE’s the confidence to offer what is near the ultimate compliment a search engine is willing to provide; a Authoritative Local Listing. (aka a 1 pack)

Google SERP

Google SERP Mighty Fine

This is a great snapshot to consider. Additional citation sources included in the SERP are video sources like Chowhound and YouTube. Linkjuice or not, citations are a required strategy moving forward in local search. In David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors Ed Reese stated that citations could be the single most important factor outside of IYPs to positively influence business local rankings. Words Go Here agrees.