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Local listings have had a love/hate relationship with local SEOs for a long time.

citations meme

Years ago, you could create 100+ citations and rank pretty well in Google Maps.

This “tactic” no longer works.

If you’re “link building” strategy is citation-driven you’re going to have a hard time.

Say it with me, “citation building is NOT link building”.

Having your correct NAP+W (business Name, Address, Phone number, Website) is a good idea but you don’t need 100+ citations anymore to be competitive.

What Citation Sources Should You Care About?

Major data aggregators:

infogroup logo




neustar locleze logo



factual logo



foursquare logo





You should always start with these major data aggregators, first. Their data is used by search engines, tier 1 citation sources, and other citation sources.

If you find that your business information is incorrect on citation sources, the culprit if often incorrect data on one of these data aggregators.

Tier 1 citation sources:

yelp logo





facebook logo







dun & bradstreet logo




Industry-specific citations:

industry associations

Search operators are your friend to find industry-specific citations. These are the search operators we use to surface potential opportunities:

industry “association”
industry “directory”
industry “directory” “city

Associations and directories often have memberships that cost money.

You don’t need to join every association or directory that shows up.

Here are some criteria we look for when evaluating opportunities:

  • Are the links PRP (PageRank Passing/dofollow)? nofollow is now a hint with Google but this is still something we pay attention to.
  • Can you publish content on the website?
  • Is the association well-known by your potential customers?
  • Are competitors members? Bonus if few are.
  • Is their organic traffic growing or shrinking? If it’s consistent or growing, this is a good indicator it’s a trustworthy site.

There was no mention of Domain Authority or any other third-party metric, why?

We’re trying to establish topical relevance of the business, nothing more.

Some industries have dozens of different associations or directories, trust your gut.

When looking at opportunities, ask yourself if you, as a user, would find the information on [industryassociation].com useful or beneficial.

If you come across a website and it’s riddled with ads or looks spammy, move on.

Hyperlocal citations:

hyperlocal citations

Again, we’re going to use search operators to surface opportunities:

city state abbreviation “recommended links”
city state abbreviation “add your site”
city state abbreviation “add your business”
city state abbreviation “business directory”

When it comes to evaluating the opportunities you find, use the same criteria as industry-specific citations.

The Ol’ Barnacle SEO Approach

Will Scott coined the term Barnacle SEO more than 6 years ago and it’s a great tactic, especially for local search.

Barnacle SEO is a strategy that allows a business to leverage (attach itself like a barnacle) the authority of another website to gain traffic/business.

If you’ve noticed a third-party site ranking well for keywords you want to rank for, why not leverage its authority for your own business?

How To Leverage Barnacle SEO

Barnacle sites

If you’ve done your keyword research and looked at the SERPs for those keywords, chances are you have seen one or more local listing provider ranking.

In the example image above, we see Super Lawyers, Find Law, and Justia ranking organically for the search term “personal injury lawyer Bend Oregon”.

If you’re a personal injury law firm located or have an office in Bend, you should have a listing on each of these sites.

All 3 of them have paid/premium versions that will get you towards the top of their search results.

You can explore their options if you think it’s something you want to explore.

Out of the 3 examples, FindLaw allows reviews.

Outside of adding as much useful information to each of these 3, you should start including your FindLaw listing into your review building mix.

There’s only so much information you can put on each listing but the reviews can stand out.

If a potential customer lands on this page and sees that you have good reviews on this website, you’re more likely to get the lead/business.

What you shouldn’t do is ONLY get reviews on this third-party site. Like investing in your retirement, you need to diversify.

You have no control over the ranking of these third-parties pages. If you “invest” your review efforts to this 1 third-party, what happens if/when their rankings diminish? Your lead pipeline is gone, too.

There is a theory that the higher up you show up on the search results for these pages, the more the citation/link helps your business.

If a search engine bot is crawling the page and crawls your listing towards the top, theoretically, it can help your rankings.

There has never been a study published but nonetheless, it’s something to think about.

My Local SEO Agency Charges Me Monthly For Citation Building & Management


Does your business move every quarter?

I didn’t think so.

You should definitely not be paying money every month for new citations and/or citation management.

This includes third-party providers.

The importance of citations has diminished over the years.

Why Do They Do This?

It’s easy to bill for.

Other Important Considerations With Citations

Citations are not a magic bullet with local SEO.

They aren’t going to magically rank you in Google Maps or local organic search.

Consider them to be table-stakes and nothing more.