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Level Up: What's a Citation?

Let's face it - we all like to sound smart. In marketing, we often get caught up in using industry lingo with our clients; but I feel like it's bad form to use marketing speak with people who may not quite understand what I'm talking about.

As a small business owner, one of the words you've probably heard a lot in regard to local SEO, is 'citations'.

So, what's a citation?

Put simply, a citation is the mention of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on an online directory. Yelp is an example of a citation.

I use a lot of analogies because I feel like they make marketing more relatable, and one of my favorites is on this topic.

In high school you're asked to write essays, and with those, normally you had to cite your sources and include a bibliography.

Citations in marketing are pretty much the same idea, but for your business. You can't expect search engines to take your company seriously if you don't have reputable citations.

What makes a citation reputable?

Well, search engines assign an authority value to citations. The greater the authority, the more important it is for your business to be listed on that citation. Your industry and location can also affect the importance of a citation.

For example, if you're a restaurant, it's less important for your business to be listed on Houzz. While a contractor probably doesn't need a listing on Spoonful.

There are tools you can use to help find out which citations you have and which you need to create or correct. We automatically provide this service for all of our clients, but if you're not a client of ours, I would suggest taking a look at this citations list from Moz.

What do you mean, "correct" citations?

While it's extremely important that you business be listed on the top citations, it's also important that the information reflected is correct.

For example, if your business is listed as Smith & Son's Plumbing on Yelp but then your Google listing says "Smith and Son's Mechanical", then search engines aren't going to trust your business as much and they will opt to show your competitors above you.

Ranking on search engines is all about trust. The search engine has to trust that they're providing the searcher with the correct information.


A citation is as simple as a listing with your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on an authoritative online directory. Although they seem simple, citations are an ever important staple of local SEO for small business marketing.

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Level Up: Marketing Basics for Beginners. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel for new videos and updates. Also, please don't hesitate to ask questions!

Sarah Nelson

After years of studying literature, Sarah discovered her true love; marketing. She is a firm believer that educating small business owners about marketing empowers them to make smart business decisions. When she's not busy saving people from marketing faux pas, you can find her reading or slaying pixel demons in far off lands.

We build small business websites

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