How Many Citations Do Local Businesses Need?

One of the most essential parts of every decent local business SEO effort is citations. First, they are affecting the way Google is displaying the top-ranking positions for local results. And second, they provide crucial information for potential customers to find you. While the importance of citation is mostly understandable, there is no abundance of information about how many of them you actually need. Mostly because it can depend on the type of industry you are in, and on how competitive your local area is. To clear this up, AZ Citation Services brings you some guidelines about how many citations do local businesses need, depending on the circumstances.

The approximate number of citations local businesses need

Obviously, there is a strong connection between the number of citations and local search engine ranking positions. Those businesses that occupy the top positions usually have a large number of citations. And if you compare the numbers, almost each of them has a higher number than those below them. This makes citation building an essential part of SEO for every local business. However, it can take a significant amount of time and effort to optimize all your local citations. Especially if you are in a highly competitive industry that requires 80 citations and more, on average. It’s no small job and you are going to need seasoned citation builders to help you set the stage for your business success.

Before we discuss the mere numbers, let’s see what citations are and how they can benefit your business.

What exactly are citations?

Citations are, simply put, online mentions of your business. But, not any mention is a citation. If you want a strong profile of structured citations, they need to have a specific form. That’s why on a basic level they provide NAP information about your business, which is:

  • Name of your business
  • Address
  • Phone number

Citations can also include additional information like your website address (URL address), but it will depend on the citation source. They can be submitted in various places, from online directories to social media networks. In addition, you can have a complete business profile like on Google My Business, with working hours, reviews, posts, and other information provided.

A girl confused by looking at the “sale” sign without any additional info.
Citations help people find all the necessary information about your local business.

How can citation benefit local businesses?

Citations can help your business in more than one way. First, they will influence your search ranking with a good balance of quality and quantity. Second, citations can help increase your business’s online visibility. Third, an optimized and maintained citation profile can gain the customers’ trust and improve their opinion about your brand.

Now, what we are most interested in is the number of citations local businesses need. With a sufficient number of citations on quality sources, you will increase the validity of your business in Google’s eyes. This, among other things, can help you win those valuable top-ranking positions in both search results and top packs. The more mentions your business has, the more legitimate it appears. And the more likely potential clients will get in touch with you.

The approximate number of citations regarding local rankings

If you check the number of citations across different industries in a specific area, you will notice a certain pattern. Those that rank high for local results have more citations than their competitors. All businesses in the top ten positions have at least 70 citations on average. This is a decently high number of citations. However, that’s just the start. In almost every competitive industry, the top three businesses have 80 citations minimum. And if you are aiming at position number one, you will need way above 80 to even consider it possible. Of course, this is not due to citations only. Local citations work the best in combination with other SEO factors. So, you will also need to fully work on your local SEO if you want to stand above your competitors.

The industry-related average number of citations

Now, the general citation requirements may not be the same for every industry. There are types of businesses that don’t require such a high number of citations. It all depends on how high is competition in local. At the bottom of the list, you can find photography businesses, for example. To be competitive in this industry, you might usually win the top positions with only 40+ citations.

On the other hand, if you are in highly competitive fields like restaurant and hotel businesses, you will need much higher numbers. Since the nature of this industry relies on promotion and marketing, in some cases, the number of citations can go way above those average numbers we mentioned. For example, you won’t do wrong to build about 100 citations in large cities with plenty of restaurants. Remember, everything you do regarding boosting your local rankings, your competitors are doing the same.

Several similar “retro-style” restaurants next to each other.
It can be hard to remain competitive in a restaurant business. You can use citations to stand above competitors.

What are the best places to build your citations?

While the sheer number of citations means a lot, their quality is equally important. That’s why you need to ensure building your citations only on popular and relevant places. Globally popular websites, niche-specific sources, local press releases, government websites, chambers of commerce, and more, will be crucial for your business.

Here are some of the most popular places for citations overall:

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook
  • Apple Maps
  • Foursquare
  • MapQuest
  • Yelp
  • Bing
  • TripAdvisor
  • Yellowpages
  • and many more

There are a plethora of citation websites at your disposal. Some are free while others might require you to pay for submission. But, you should always focus your effort on quality ones.

Don’t forget citation consistency

Remember, the accuracy and consistency of your citations are a fundamental part of optimization. If you are changing any information like your business address, make sure to update it everywhere. It can be overwhelming to manage your citations on a large scale, but it’s necessary. You don’t want to lose potential clients because of wrong information. Also, Google will lower your rank if they find inconsistency in the data. In addition, focus on other SEO elements as well. Your content, link profile, and high-performing website are also crucial on your way to success. Finally, pay close attention to reviews because they can also affect your ranking positions and the way people perceive your business.

An “Update” button on a keyboard.
Always keep your citation information up-to-date.

Search rankings, especially for local searches, can be highly competitive for some. If you want to compete with others, you will have to know how many citations do local businesses need in different circumstances. That’s why the best way to start is to explore your competitors, explore the market, and see where others are standing. You will never go wrong if you build more citations than others, but you must not disregard the quality as an important factor.

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