Why Quality Trumps Quantity When it comes to Local Citations

Citations are characterized by mentions of your business name and your address on other web pages, including mentions that don’t link back to your website. An example of an unlinked citation might be an online directory where your business may be listed but not necessarily linked to. Citations are commonly found in a local chamber of commerce pages as well as in local business association websites that include your business information and profile.

Citations, much like links, are key components of search engine ranking algorithms, at least for major search sites like Google and Bing. Other SEO factors being equal, websites or businesses with greater numbers of citations are more likely to rank higher than those with fewer citations. Additionally, citations coming from well-indexed, authoritative, and well-established portals also help the degree of certainty and trust that engines have about your business’ categorization and basic contact information. They help search engines confirm your business for who they thought you were.


Local citations are of particular importance when it comes to less-competitive niches like electrical or plumbing services where many providers don’t (yet) have websites themselves. Because search engines don’t have much other information to refer to about these businesses, they rely heavily on whatever data they can find about the business/service, making citations extremely essential for these kinds of providers. More than this, citations validate a particular business’ belongingness to a community because it is hard for an entity to fake membership in a city/county business index or a chamber of commerce. Blog and online newspaper mentions are also hard to falsify, making citations of these kind tremendously valuable in improving local search engine rankings.

Citations may look the same, but they are not created equal. In fact, there are many different types of citations your business can have, and they are as follows:

  • Structured Citations – these are the most common citations found on many business listing sites, where you have your business name and contact details all in a structured format.
  • Unstructured Citations – these are citations that can be found on newspaper websites, blogs, event listings, job portals, government sites, and similar types of locations.

Submitting your business to local directories increases the number of your citations and mentions. However, it should be noted that quantity isn’t everything when it comes to their use in SEO. Much like links, search engines also put greater merit on the quality of these mentions rather than their mere quantity. A mention of your business’ name and contact details on a well established site like whitehouse.gov, for instance, is worth far more than a mention on a spammy directory created solely for some blackhat link exchange.

Both quality and quantity of your citations are important when it comes to your site’s overall performance in searches. However, the degree of their importance largely depends on whether you are building publicity for a business that has been residing in the same address for years or for new premises. This is because your NAP details may already be listed in different local sites, while new businesses can benefit from numerous mentions even when they are coming from low value sites.

The big quantity versus quality debate can go either way, depending on whether you are building citations for a new or an established business. Quality and quantity may be equally important for a new business with a new address while quality might be more important for an established business, whose address may already be listed in various sites. The correctness of these listings can greatly impact the effect of local citations in your search rankings.