9 Secrets for Easier and Faster Local Citation Gathering

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You already know citation-gathering is crucial to your local ranking in Google Places, and you know at least the basics of how to get citations for your business.  That’s not the problem.

The problem is that getting dozens of citations is about as enjoyable as getting a colonoscopy.  You want it to be over with as quickly as possible, so that you can get back to running your business and enjoying life.

Here are some secrets for polishing off citations more quickly and easily:

1.  Keep a master spreadsheet that contains all your login info for every third-party site you list your business on.  It should contain all your usernames, your passwords, the email addresses that you used to sign up with the various sites, and any other info that you may need to log in with like (“secret answers”).  I like to use Excel for this.

The spreadsheet won’t take long to create, but it will save you from a world of pain if you have to log in and change your business info on these sites, change your passwords, or forget your passwords.

Obviously, you can organize the info in the spreadsheet however you’d like.  It doesn’t need to be pretty.  But if it helps, here’s an example of the type of spreadsheet I’ve used.

2.  Have a “status” and a “next step” column in your spreadsheet.  Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where your listing stands on each site and what you have left to do in terms of getting your business listed, verified, etc.  In cases where you’re not able to get your listing completely squared away at once, jot down whether your listing is actually up on a given site, and (if it’s not) any next steps you’ll have to take in order to get your business listed.

3.  Include your business name, address, and phone number in the spreadsheet.  Having your “NAP” easily accessible in the spreadsheet helps you in two ways.  First, all you have to do is copy and paste the info into any fields that you have to fill out.  Second, you avoid typos because you’re not having to type.  Use the same formatting that you see on your Google Places page.

4.  Have a document that contains a long description and a short description of your business.  Some sites only give you a tiny blurb with which to describe your business or services, and others insist that you give them a bigger and beefier description.  I’ve found that one description should be 150 characters long (including spaces), and the other should be at least 300 characters long.  Because most sites ask you for a description, you’ll save time by having yours handy, rather than having to retype anything or hunt around for a version that you’ve already listed on another site.

5.  Have Google Autofill installed on your browser toolbar (if it’s not already).  It can save you time and typing.  Of course, you’ll still want to double-check all the fields to make sure everything’s been filled in correctly.

6.  Know exactly where to login to add your local business listing.  This sounds like a “duh” suggestion, but some sites are very unclear as to where you should log in to add your business: it’s NOT always from the homepage, nor can you always easily get there from the homepage.  When it comes time to add your local listing to the following sites, make sure you start at these pages (rather than at the homepage):

mybusinesslistingmanager.com (Acxiom)

company.angieslist.com (AngiesList.com)

citysearch.com/profile/add_business (CitySearch)

expressupdateusa.com (InfoUSA)

listings.mapquest.com (MapQuest)

business.yellowbook360.com (YellowBook)

By the way, if you’re really on top of your game, you’ll add these login/submit pages to your spreadsheet.

7.  Double-check your info religiously, right after you initially submit/complete each business listing.  Ideally, log out and log back into your profile on each site, to make sure all your info is there and that it’s all correct.  Do this ASAP, so that no incorrect info can spread to other sites (which often share data with each other).

8.  Keep any photos you’ll be uploading in an easy-to-find subdirectory on your computer, like Desktop.  Pretty much every site will have a “Browse” button that you’ll need to click on and use to navigate to the area of your computer where you store the pictures of your business.  It’s faster to upload your pictures you don’t have to rummage through half a dozen nested folders or subdirectory just to find them.

9.  Personal suggestion: don’t try to do all the citations one sitting.  It’s easier to mess them up, and it’s even easier to get totally sick of citation-building and slow down to a crawl.  You can take your time: it takes weeks for your business info to get processed on each site and to result in citations that give your business a boost in Google Places.


I also suggest you use the Local Citation Finder to help find citations.

Obviously, I’ve been talking about how to save time on whatever citations you know you’re going to collect, and finding citation sources in the first place is a whole separate subject.  I’ll probably do a separate blog post on the best citation-hunting techniques.

Still, the Local Citation Finder can save you a ton time and hassle, so it belongs on this list.

Got any personal tricks for easier / quicker / more pain-free local citations?  Leave a comment!


  1. Nice list Phil! The only thing I’d probably add is to use programs like the Whitespark Local Citation Finder to ease the process of finding directories to list your business.

    • @Nyagoslav
      Yeah, LCF is probably worth mentioning—though generally I didn’t want to get into how to find citations, just because it’s a big can of worms. But yes, I’d agree it’s a serious time-saver.

  2. Local citations often get overlooked. A simple Google search for “Area” and “Business Directory” will bring up a comprehensive list of local citation opportunities.

    I also use SEOquake to filter by PageRank etc and start with the more influential sites.

    • @GavHep
      Those are some great techniques. But, here too, my focus is more on how to save time once you know what citations you want: finding them in the first place is practically an art, and it would deserve its own blog post. Maybe that should be one of the next ones: “the definitive guide to how to find citation sources.” (I’d certainly be interested in what you guys would add to that.)

  3. These are some great tips for managing your citation building process. Well done Phil. I might include a link to this on the next newsletter we send out to our Whitespark Local Citation Finder users.

    • @ Darren
      Thanks for your compliments! Incidentally, I was just about to take Nyagoslav’s great suggestion of mentioning the Local Citation Finder as one of the time-savers (which it of course is). Thanks in advance for any link in your newsletter.

      P.S. Keep up the superb work with LCF!

  4. Great Article. My domain is 10 years old. I moved a number of times in the last 10 years. My citations are a mess. One thing that has helped me a lot is Roboform. I don’t sell nor am I affiliated with it. There are others that are just as good or better. It really helps on the form fill out and login info. I agree having a folder with descriptions, pictures, logo, and a spreadsheet is a great idea. I do have a question. I have been told that Whitespark is very useful. If I use it, do I still need to go back and use other techniques to find more?
    I did contact a rep at Localeze and he said yes Localeze can help in correcting them, but I still need to go in and do all the ones I can find manually. Some citation places have glitches in their claim and edit process. I have noticed that when you have a problem some of them don’t get back to you. While others don’t seem to change them even after you go in and manually change them. A example of this is Rateitall.com. I went in and changed my info. However there is a glitch in their form and it wont let me edit city and state. I have wrote them and no responds. Does Localeze help with getting those stubborn ones changed. I would love to hear from someone with some experience on how to deal with the stubborn ones. Thanks, Mike

    • @ Mike
      Good call–I probably should have said in the blog post “…or whatever autofiller you like.” I’ve heard Roboform and LastPass are good.

      Whitespark is very useful: it will save you a lot of time and digging. You’ll still want to do whatever you can to find more citations, simply because your local competitors may themselves not have all the citations they should. One way to do this with Whitespark is to run a scan on OTHER markets–either ones in your same vertical but in a different city, or even markets that are totally unrelated to yours. This will show you at least some citation sources that the local competitors in your market simply don’t have. Outside of Whitespark, yeah, you’ll want to apply every technique you can to find citations–but this likely won’t be too time-intensive, because at that point you’ll mostly be encountering stragglers, not dozens and dozens of citation sources you had no idea existed.

      In my experience, LocalEze won’t smooth over all the “stubborn ones,” though it does help. The thing is, you have to make sure your business name / DBA is 30 characters or less for LocalEze, or else it and all the sites it feeds will cut your name short–which spells trouble in terms of making sure all your third-party info is consistent and accurate. Anyway, I’ve found that if you can get a handle on LocalEze, InfoUSA, and possibly fork over for UBL.org, the “stubborn ones” should be few and far between.

  5. You mention just about everything that I do and or use with the exception of a nice clipboard widget that can help you with all the cut and paste. I like it better than the autofill widgets.

    • @Chris

      Yeah, autofill often leaves much to be desired. If you know of a particularly good widget, just let me know and I might include it in the post. Same thing with other tips / suggestions: I’d love to hear any that you’d add.

  6. I like to use LastPass a add on for Firefox/Chrome.
    You can index each site under a folder there and not have to worry about remembering your login info. Makes the process a lot faster.

    Great article BTW!

    • Good call – LastPass is a great tool, and shaves a ton of time from the whole citation-gathering process. Still worth having everything written down as well, obviously.

      Thanks for the feedback and for the compliments!

  7. Nice thoughts put together Phil. I have been doing tons of local citation building myself. I came across a fact that if the descriptions are unique on each sites, it helps to get placed higher. Is it true?

    • @Labdhie

      Great question. My short answer is I’m not sure whether having unique descriptions for each site is any help.

      My longer is although I can see on an intuitive level why it might help – Google’s organic algorithm has 200+ factors, and Google Places has a ton as well – I just haven’t seen any evidence first-hand or second-hand that unique descriptions help. My general approach is to have several different lengths of descriptions, because each site has different word-count limits. Google Places only gives you 200 characters, but AngiesList gives you like 5000. I try to err on the side of having each description as full (i.e., long) as possible. The more info you provide, the better. Also, some sites give you space in “keywords,” “tags,” or “services” boxes in which to list all the services/search terms you want to be found for, in which case you don’t need to try to fit everything in the description.

      The bottom line is the rules for descriptions vary from site to site, and if you’re trying to load up each site with as much relevant info as possible, then your descriptions will naturally vary a little. But beyond that level of variation, I just don’t know that it helps to write a zillion unique descriptions.

      I’d be really interested in hearing if you put it to the test, though!

      • Can’t imagine why anyone would write a 5000 word description besides keyword stuffing. I write tons of articles & have difficulty staying within my natural style of 600 to 800 words, which is still more than most people want to read … so I use headers, bold & bullet lists to help readers scan for relevant content. Most directories don’t allow the html so I doubt anything beyond say, 300 words gets read by humans … just the search engines, although I’ve also read google really only analyzes first 100 words

        • 5000 words is a touch excessive, I agree. A much better use of that space than keyword-stuffing is just to write something really compelling.

  8. Phil,
    I’m so happy I found your site. So many useful tips and resources.
    I have two small time-saving tips. I, like you, keep a spreadsheet for easy reference and cutting & pasting. In addition to your recommended content, I also include social site addresses cause you now sometimes have the opportunity to include those with your listing. I also note the domain authority of the citation source, so I can eyeball to ensure I’m acquiring a “balanced” assortment of links and citations.

    • Hi Donna,

      Thanks for the great feedback! Glad my stuff has been useful so far. There’s a LOT more on the way.

      Excellent call on including your social URLs. I actually do that, but not on the spreadsheet; for me it’s in a separate document labeled “IYP info to add.” Hadn’t thought of doing so (though I just might start).

      Hadn’t thought of putting domain authority on there, either. That’s kind of like what the Local Citation Finder does. I just go after a core list of citations – the BIG ones – and worry about the niche or local/hyperlocal sites later. That ensures a pretty good mixture, but I can certainly see how you might want to go by domain authority as well.


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