Top-Ranking Google Local Search Results Rely On Business Citations, Study Shows

Local citations —  any mention of the company’s name, address and phone number in search results — not only helps people searching find the information needed, but also assists in ranking the business higher in search query results, according to data released Thursday. Among local businesses, 5% do not have listings on any of the most popular citations sites, according to data released Thursday from BrightLocal. 

Businesses that rank No. 1 in Google local rankings have an average of 86 citations, while businesses that rank No. 10 have an average of 75 citations, according to the research.

The analysis from BrightLocal explores how local businesses use citations and the importance of the practice in local search engine optimization (SEO). The study looks at the average number of citations for businesses in each industry, and the average number of citations for businesses ranked between No. 1 and No. 10 in Google Local listings.



The SEO Citations Study explores profiles of 122,125 local businesses across 26 industries. From the data, BrightLocal created an interactive tool to identify trends. 

The top five citations sites include Facebook, Yelp, Mapquest, Yellow Pages, and Manta.  

Hotels, bars, and restaurants have the highest number of citations. Photographers, tradesmen, and storage businesses have the lowest.

When a business ranks in the No. 1 spot in Google’s search listing, the company on average has 86 citations. In the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, the company has an average of 85 citations. In the No. 4 spot, the company has an average of 83 citations, and in the No. 5 spot the company tends to have 82 citations.

BrightLocal’s study also found differences in the average number of citations between industries. Hotels and B&Bs have 152 citations on average, whereas bars and pubs have 124, and restaurants and cafés have 108.

Photographers typically have 34, while tradesmen have 47, and storage and removal businesses have on average of 51. 

The study also found the popular citation sites for each industry, based on the proportion of businesses in the industry that have a listing. 

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