The buyer’s journey no longer follows a simple, step-by-step process. Buyers now consult over 20 online sources before making a purchase decision and businesses need to show up at each touchpoint or risk losing potential leads. Renters begin their searches online, which means your business needs to perform in local organic search in order to win over new customers. Citations, or business listings, need to be maintained in order to achieve top positions in local search and for you to show up throughout the buyer’s journey.

What are Citations/Business Listings?

A business listing with your contact information within a directory is known as a citation.  Citations are critical to local search. They inform searchers and search engines of who you are and how to contact you. Citations include your business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP). Google and other search engines use citations to evaluate the online authority of a business. Many factors can impact your citation score, which, according to Moz, accounts for 10.8 percent of local pack ranking factors. Rebranding, address changes, inconsistent phone numbers, outdated information, and duplicate listings can affect your citation score.

Why You Need to Manage Your Citations

You need to manage your citations for a number of reasons. First, search engines rely on citations to ensure businesses are open and they do what they say they do. The more your NAP appears on authoritative, trustworthy websites, the more likely search engines are to reward you with higher positions in local search results. Maintaining your citation on your Google My Business (GMB) page helps get you more real estate in Google search results, which makes it essential to your local search strategy.

In addition to local search, many citation platforms incorporate reviews into your local business listings. You need to maintain your citations to be alerted to incoming reviews so you can manage and respond to public feedback. Some citations can be edited by competitors or the public, enabling bad data to be published about your business. Inaccurate data in one place naturally spreads to others, which increases the importance of maintaining citations. Catch errors if they occur and prevent the flow of bad data by maintaining your business listings online.

Best Practices for Maintaining Citations

  1. Correct Inaccuracies and seek removal of duplicate listings. Frequently audit your citations in order to discover new inaccuracies, new duplicates, and new citations that have been automated. Update all citations to reflect your accurate NAP and request the closure of duplicate listings.
  2. Add your business listing to important sites for citation building. Your business should have a citation on the following important sites: Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Bing Places, Apple Maps, FourSquare, Yellow Pages, Citysearch, DexKnows, and the Better Business Bureau. Industry-specific websites like, for example, should also include a citation for your business.
  3. Size up your competition. Find out where your competitors are listed and write down every local listing you see them on that you are not. Scan the first 10 pages of search results and then start getting your business listed on these sites.
  4. Choose how you will maintain your citations long-term. You have several options for citation management — do it yourself, outsource it to a company that specializes in citation management and SEO, or automate it. If you opt to maintain your listings yourself, be prepared to reevaluate and audit your and your competition’s citations every six months.       

Rank Better in Local Search

Rank better in local search by actively maintaining online citations and business listings. Google and other search engines use this data when evaluating the online authority of your business. Your properties need to have consistent NAP citations across the web in order for you to show up and rank higher in search engine results pages. If you want a top position in local search results, it’s essential your citations are kept up-to-date.

Download the 20 Digital Touchpoints eBook to learn more about the role citations play in the buyer’s journey.