A local citation is any mention of a business or store on the web. It is any combination of the company name, phone number, address, zip or postal code, and website address. Local Citations help internet users to discover local businesses and are very important for improving local search results. Local businesses can actively manage many citations to ensure data accuracy.
Local citations can have various forms and levels of details, for example:
- Company name
- Company name & phone number
- Company name, phone number, & address
- Company name, phone number, address, & website
- Company name & website
- Company phone number.
A complete local citation should include the company name, address, and phone number, which is referred to as your “NAP”. A citation that does not include all three of these is sometimes referred to as a partial citation.
You’ll sometimes also hear people talk about a NAPW or a UNAP citation as well. The W refers to Website, and the U refers to URL. The website link you get from a citation offers you additional value, because it provides an extra data point that helps the search engines connect the citation to your business, so some people like to include it in the acronym.
Citations can be divided into two categories, structured or unstructured.
A structured citation is your business information (NAP) on a business listing directory. When you see lists of citation sites, these are pretty much always business listing directories where you can submit your business and get a citation. Example sites for structured citations include:
Why do local citations matter?
- Local citations either positively or negatively impact local search engine rankings. The number of citations a business has, the accuracy of the data they feature, and the quality of the platforms they exist on all influence rankings. Search engines like Google collect data about each business. If the data is accurate, the search engine trusts the validity of the data, which will strengthen the business’ chance of ranking well. However, if the data search engines collect is inconsistent, this trust is eroded, weakening ranking opportunities.
- Local citations either positively or negatively impact consumers. Accurate citations help people discover a local business, which can result in web, phone, and foot traffic, leading to transactions. Inaccurate citations, however, can misdirect customers, leading to loss of reputation and revenue.