Citations for Local Business – What, Why and Where?

by | Oct 16, 2020 | Local SEO

If you’re running a local business you may have heard that you need citations and directory listings. But before you go out and list your business in every directory under the sun let’s dive into exactly what they are, why you need them, how many you need and which ones you should get listings on.

What are listings and what are citations for local business?

This can be where some people get confused. A listing in a directory is a citation but the term citation actually means any mention of the business. This may be on a website, in printed media or in a document. Citations for local business can include a link, your contact details, a description of your business etc etc, or it may not!

Listings are just one kind of citation and lucky for local business owners, they’re not hard to generate and can give you a boost in terms of local SEO.

Why build citations for your local business?

Citations are a great signal for search engines and they can drive real, relevant traffic directly to your site or your store. Citations often contain links to your website and contact information that matches up with other info around the internet. These links and the information in your listings can help to confirm that you are a real business, give clues on the geographical area you serve, what you offer and produce more trust from search engines and customers. What’s more, in many niches people just aren’t investing the time in building citations so you have the opportunity to get ahead. As part of your local SEO strategy citations help you to get your business’ name and contact details out there.

How many citations do you need?

There is no set number for how many citations or directory listings you should create for your business. The effort dedicated to building citations for local SEO will depend on your type of business, the competition and your location. For more competitive locations and sectors, the number of listings needed depends on the number of listings your competition has. In most cases, once all the core directories are covered, a small business has enough listings to appear in the local search results.

Types of Directories for Local SEO

Core Directories

Core directories are the must-have listings for all local businesses and they should be the first ones you focus on. The core directories include Google My Business, Apple Maps, Facebook, Bing, and Yelp. Other core directories may exist for your specific country; in the US aggregators such as Factual, Acxiom, Localeze, and Infogroup will be important, in the UK these would be Cylex and the Scoot Network.

citations local seo - core directories

Primary Directories

Primary directories have high traffic and are usually recognised in your country, these would be things like BBB, Angie’s List, Yellow Pages and in the UK, and 118information. These kinds of directories usually send traffic directly to your website and they may also include the option for clients to leave reviews.

Citations for Local Business - What, Why and Where? 1

Niche & Regional Directories

Niche and location-based directories do exactly what it says in the tin. They should be used with caution as it is very important that you only list your business in relevant directories. These kinds of site often provide excellent opportunities to give location and sector relevant information to enhance your listing, you may be able to add an appointment scheduler, provide information about opening hours, parking and other information that customers may find useful.

Secondary Directories

Secondary directories usually have low-traffic and won’t provide a great return for your time. If you have high competition you may consider listing in these directories but I wouldn’t waste time on these until you’ve organised listings in Core, Primary and Niche/Regional directories.

How to get started

Many people use local SEO services to build citations for their business but if you want to invest the time yourself there is a simple formula. The manual way to build local citations is to use the search string “location + business directory”. This is also likely to bring up blog posts with lists of the top directories for your country or region which should contain the Core and Primary directories. For niche directories, you would perform a similar search using “niche + business directory”.

If you’d like help building citations for your local business, or any of our other SEO services you can reach out to us at



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