A citation is an online mention of a business that features the Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) of the business.
In the context of local search, citations are typically business directory listings such as Yelp, YellowPages.com, and many others. Citations are a foundational ranking factor for local SEO, which means it is essential to get them right in order to improve business visibility online and to potentially influence local rankings.
Citations provide search engines with a digital ‘anchor point’ that gives multiple points of evidence to prove that the business is where it says it is. They also help potential customers find what they’re looking for.
Accuracy is one of the most important factors of citations — you need to make sure that the business’s name, address, and phone number are consistent online. Achieving this gives Google (and other search engines) confidence in the true location of a business, ensuring they can accurately place the business on a map.
Having a range of accurate citations also tells search engines that a business is prominent, or well-known, which search engines also use as a factor to determine the influence that a business has in their local results.
There are many different directories a business could (and should) be listed on, but creating these listings and keeping them both updated and consistent is labour-intensive — it’s a very manual task that takes a lot of time researching and well as inputting.
The BrightLocal Citation Tracker tool can help this by automating the process of finding and auditing your citations, enabling you to quickly see where a business is listed, what data is displayed about the business, and where competitors are listed but the business is not.
Citation Tracker reports display a list of all the sites and directories where a business is listed — these are known as ‘Live Citations’.
For the most important directories (e.g. Yelp, Google, Yellowpages.com), the tool performs a full audit of the core business data (NAP) displayed on the directory, and identifies both errors and inconsistencies in the data, which are then highlighted in red text (see below for an example). This allows you to quickly audit a business’s citations without the considerable hours of manual research or messy spreadsheets.
The Citation Tracker tool also looks at the business's competitors (using the top-ranking businesses in the same business category found on Google Business Profile) and scours the web to identify their citations — this provides the business with a list of citations sites that they might be able to feature on.
Citation Tracker is used by thousands of agencies to audit clients’ digital presences and plan effective strategies. Many customers also use the reports generated to help them educate prospects or clients on their current citation footprint, making it easy to visualize how Google views a business whilst helping the client to understand the value of citation management.