Citations for SEO: How to Improve Your Rankings in Local Organic Search

Citations for SEO: How to Improve Your Rankings in Local Organic Search

Do you operate a brick and mortar business and wish to rank for local listings?

I bet you do!

Here’s the point; most businesses today operate on a local level. So it’s of utmost importance to optimize your website to target local customers in your area.

This is because local citations are the backbone of any good local SEO strategy, and you don’t want to joke with it if you really want to stand up tall in your industry and show up in local listings.

It all begins with having a NAP (name, address, and phone number) that’s consistent across all of your online properties.

And in this article, you’ll learn the importance of NAP and how to improve your rankings in local organic search – so you can always get more leads, increased conversions, and generate more revenue.

How to Improve Your Rankings in Local Organic Search

1. Audit Your Citations

The point is this; most businesses out there (your included) probably have existing citations.

However, some of these will often be incomplete and/or incorrect.

For some businesses, their business name and address will be correct, but they’ll be using a wrong phone number. While others will have the correct phone number and business name, but an old (outdated) address.

And some may even have partial information such as an address, business name, but no phone number at all.

For instance, Europcar Sheffield shows their phone number on their website as +44 (0371) 3845930.

While 0871 384 5930 is what’s showing on their yelp listing.

This is an excellent example of inconsistent NAP information across the internet – and corrections must be made.

Now, you have to find the correct NAP for your business and the incorrect ones you’ve entered all these years and find business listings where you entered the different variations. Also, confirm NAP variations that Google My Business acknowledges as yours.

To do this, simply search for your NAP on Google and find out the websites where your business is listed.

When you’re done with the manual search, you can also use Moz Local, BrightLocal, or WhiteSpark to find additional websites where your NAP is mentioned.

For example, Moz local will comb the key data aggregators in your location (country) and unveil any duplicate, incomplete, and inconsistent listings.

Simply visit the site and enter the required information:

Here’s a perfect example of some inconsistent listings it found for Europcar Sheffield here and here:

In this case, the phone number seems to be the problem. They each show the 0871 version of their number instead of the 0371 number displayed on their official website.

To fix these, simply click on the “Claim Now” button on the listing, then update.

Or just use a paid tool such as BrightLocal to supply data to lots of these data aggregators in one go.

Finally, you can also do it manually by including them in a spreadsheet and filtering out the wrong listings so you can make the necessary corrections afterward.

The goal is to list down all the business citations with your NAP on them – correct or otherwise – to have a clear idea of how your NAP is spread across different listing sites.

2. Clean up your citations

Now that you’ve audited your citations and probably found all the error listings, the next step is to perform citation cleanup. In this step, you want to visit each website and ensure that each NAP is the same as your GMB listing – this will help to improve your local search rankings.

To start, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your current business address the same as the ones listed in all your legal paperwork?
  • Have you ever changed your business address (moved to another location)?
  • Did your business go through some rebranding?
  • Have you ever hired lead generation service providers?
  • Did you work with 3rd-party agencies on building an online presence?
  • Did you previously dip your toes in phone number tracking?

Any of these questions could have contributed to irregular NAP listings.

Now, the next step is to identify where the NAPs were added.

Ask the Website Owner for Information

If you’re working for a client as an SEO, the first thing should be to ask the website owner if they have a copy of where their citations are posted.

Although, the possibility of them having that information is lean.

But you still have to ask anyways.

Sometimes, website owners save the information if they’re somewhat organized.

Check Updates on Google Maps

Google previously had a feature known as “Google Map Maker,” which they have since integrated with Google Maps.

The Map Maker had functionality that lets users see the history of the changes made to a business listing.

You’ve probably made an edit to a business listing previously, you never can tell. To check this, log into your Google account and go to “Google Maps.”

Then select “Your Contributions” from the menu:

Click on the Edits tab:

All the suggested edits are stored in the Edits tab.

And if you’re lucky here, you will see all the changes you have made to your GMB listing.

On the other hand, you can also go to options, and click on “Your Places” tab:

 And click on “Maps” to see if you’ve made edits there:

Here, you want to see if your business name, phone number, or address, had been changed over time.

3. Build your citations

Using the information you’ve gathered so far, find business listings where your business isn’t listed yet and enter it there.

You can start with geographically-relevant citations like the ones below:

  • The local chamber of commerce in your country (here is a list of UK Chambers, and here for a list of US Chambers)
  • Community hubs
  • Other local business directories and associations such as local networking events

Also, check out some relevant industry-specific citations like the ones below:

Here’s where you can also find more listings to list your business.

Basically, just look for any online publications related to your industry.

Here are some ways to find these:

Finally, you can also use Whitespark’s citation finder tool to identify suitable opportunities based on your keyword and location.

Just enter some keywords related to your business and your location, and the tool will do the rest for you.

But ensure that the listings are in your country/region.


While it can be tough to achieve, a citation audit and cleanup will let you perform much better in the search engine result pages (SERPs), so it’s really worth all the time and effort.

Like I mentioned earlier, it all starts from performing a citation audit to identify all the places you have inconsistent NAP, then cleanup your citation and get rid of all the wrong information in your previous listings.

Once you’re able to get to this step, you’ve already won half the battle. The final step will now be to build more citations for your business.