Digital Insights

Why You Need Citations and Links for an Effective Local SEO Campaign


Published: May 8, 2014

Although organic SEO (search engine optimization) and local SEO share a common goal of increasing website traffic by improving visibility and relevance in the eyes of the search engines, there are fundamental differences that local marketers need to take into account when planning an SEO campaign.

The major emphasis in organic SEO is on relevant and trusted content. The site owner could be a national company or an Internet-based company without a geographic location. The general goal is to rank as high as possible for relevant keywords.

In contrast, local SEO is all about relevant and trusted locations. Signals of relevance are built around a local brick-and-mortar business. The goal of local SEO is to position the local business as highly relevant for a given geographic area.

In addition to on-site optimization, or how well your webpage is designed to be found and indexed by the search engines, two of the most important factors that will determine the ranking of your website for local SEO are:

  • The authority and relevancy of the links that point back toward your site from an authority site. These provide the critical proof that your site is an important resource that deserves better rankings because of the quality and trust associated with the site that you are linking from. Links remain the dominant ranking factor for local as well as organic SEO.
  • The citations that validate your position as a local business. Citations are primarily found in the various online business directories, and include your business NAP (name, address, phone number) information as well as other important details about your business that prospective customers are looking for.

The Best Methods for Acquiring Links

A word of caution before you start any link-building campaign: think quality over quantity. Google is cracking down on spammy backlinks, and is penalizing websites that engage in questionable linking practices such as

  • Links from low-quality sites with little or no useful content
  • Excessive use of the same anchor text
  • Linking that appears to be unnatural, such as adding hundreds of backlinks overnight

One of the best strategies for acquiring links is through guest posting. With this method, you create quality content to be posted on other sites in exchange for a link within the text itself or at the end of the article in the author’s bio box.

  • Again, you need to focus on quality and relevance. Some possibilities for guest posting include local community blogs and other local partners who serve your niche or industry.
  • In addition to guest posting, these same sites may have a local resource page where your link could be added.

How to Get Citations

Create a basic profile of your business information and save it in a separate file. When you add a profile to a new business directory, simply copy and paste your saved information; this ensures that your information is identical across all directories, and will keep your profile from getting flagged for inconsistencies that could cost you traffic.

  • A Google search for your niche or industry will give you an idea of the most popular local directories for your area that your business should be listed in.
  • Don’t forget to create a listing for your business among the various review sites.