Lean Top 50 Best Local Citation Sources in the USA

Lean Top 50 Best Local Citation Sources in the USA

After 3 months, 450 man hours, 6510 search queries, and the review of 45,570 Google+ Local pages, I have compiled a ton of local search data. Data which I believe provides great insight into the most important citations sources available.

Let’s first remember what a citation in local search is. I define a citation as an occurrence of business information, specifically name, address, phone number (NAP) on the web. Citations are important because we local SEOs say so. That and they have shown (when created) to positively influence rankings in local search results.

Some month’s back, two gentlemen whom I have had the pleasure of meeting, David Mihm (Moz’s recent acquisition) and Darren Shaw (Mister citation himself) set out on the local SEO, data junkies wet dream of a journey to find the best citations. They leveraged Darren Shaw’s Local Citation Finder, and developer know how, and dug around, revealing data worth its weight in gold. You can find the results here and here.

I have tremendous admiration for these guys and the work they do, but I thought it could use a third pair of eyes, and so a few months back I eluded to research of my own on my Local SEO blog. Here is why we did it, how we did it, and the resulting…results:

The Why:

It is my contention, that the most influential citations are not only those that appear to be the back bone of those currently ranking (those that appear in competitive analysis) but also, and possibly more importantly (my contention), those that Google scrapes and displays on the Google My Business page.

Additionally, and where I tactfully tie in this posts relevancy to this blog, for you local business owners out there, I wanted to reveal the best citations submitted for dollar/hour spent. The citations I would create if I only had so much time to do so, and those that would garner me the greatest bang for my buck.

The How:

Manually. Painfully manually. Most will scratch their head and say “Why the heck didn’t you build a scraper/bot? Or hire someone with one?” Well, we thought about it. We even knocked on Mr. Shaw’s door, but his tools were booked for months. Sometimes I just prefer the hard way.

My team, in this order, would:

  1. Apply a US, in most cases, city specific IP address
  2. In Google.com search [keyword] + [cityname, state]
  3. Open the top 7 Google+ Local pages in new tabs
  4. Log each occurrence of a scraped directory – issuing them “scrape points.”

For comparison purposes, we surveyed the same categories and cities from the Mihm/Shaw study.

We then compiled all this data into various meaningful lists, like: best overall, best by category, best by city, and many, many others. I realized there are so many different stories that this data can tell that I’ve decided I would let you interpret it. So, I am just going to share one interpretation with you, and should you choose to take advantage, we will forward all this data to you. If you choose to subscribe to our newsletter, we may forward along the results of additional studies once they have been completed.


Without further ado, here are the “Lean Top 50” best citation sources in the USA:

*sorted by the amount of times we found them trusted (scraped) by Google.
*completely unfiltered. This is purely what was found.

This is just a SMALL portion of the data, barely a 5th in fact. You will, as I have, find sources where you cannot get citations, and thus want to dig deeper.

The Strange

It wasn’t until I started noticing strange occurrences that I became a “data-phile.” Things like:

  • There were only 12 occurrences of Yelp. Or maybe the observation was that there are still occurrences of Yelp..?
  • Google scraped IP addresses. I have never seen this, and found many occurrences.
  • Tripadvisor SG, UK, CA and US all in my top 50. Wow! Reminds me of when I often find Qype.co.uk in my comp analysis.
  • Directories I expected to rank high, didn’t. The same directories I had seen in citation list after citation list after citation list.

Now that I am hooked, I can assure you this is hardly the last of such projects. We have already begun working on similar undertakings in .CA and .CO.UK – this time with a bot : )

EDIT: After a long conversation w/ Darren about this study, I think perhaps we need to think about this a bit differently. Many/most of these scraped sites accept reviews, and while we scraped a bunch of directories that don’t accept reviews, the leaders of the pack do. That being said, this list may be more appropriately named the best citations THAT ACCEPT REVIEWS.

It’s impossible for us to say why Google scrapes these directories, and looking a few of them it would make you wonder if they just do it at random. Nevertheless, it has always been my observation that the best ranked Google+ local pages are the ones with the most/best scraped directories. If that is the case, then perhaps these are the directories you need to make sure you are in, and more importantly, those you need to be sending clients to for reviews.
We invested considerable resources into procuring this data, and would appreciate your feedback below, whether negative or positive.


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Updated June 8th 2015 by Adam Steele

About Adam Steele

A SEO & Local SEO by trade, Adam spends the majority of his time creating new efficiencies through smart processes and the leveraging of technology. He is ruthlessly passionate about building smart, lean businesses, and exploring new, lean, internet marketing techniques. Find him on Twitter @AdamGSteele.

  • http://ezlocal.com Dave Cosper

    If you have category-specific data, I would be interested in seeing that. Thanks for this list.

    • http://www.leanmarketing.ca Adam Steele

      Hey Dave, if you download the list you will find in fact that we have organized a tab by category. All you will have to do is use the sort function and tada! Let me know what you think : )

  • http://www.parkseo.net Gary Downey

    Thanks a million Adam. Thanks for sharing this information. To put so many man hours into research and share this information free of charge is a rare thing in todays world of business. Much appreciated.

    Best regards,
    Gary Downey

    • http://www.leanmarketing.ca Adam Steele

      Well, I am not totally a saint, I am capturing emails ;)

      So many times in the past others have shared with me. This is merely my way of paying it forward.

      Thanks for stopping by Gary!

  • http://www.localvisibilitysystem.com Phil Rozek

    Awesome stuff, Adam. Thanks for being the coldhearted boss who made your team work on weekends and holidays to do all the research that the rest of us can use. I think in a past life you built the Pyramids :)

    Glad to see CitySearch at the top. Not because I have some love for the site, but because what you found completely squares with the research I did last summer on the “Local Reviews Ecosystem” and how CitySearch reviews are huge because they get fed to like 15 other sites. The site as a whole doesn’t get enough attention in local-SEO circles.

    Love the Super Troopers pic, BTW.

    • http://www.SmallBusinessOnlineCoach.com Matthew Hunt

      agreed on Phil’s points. Especially Super Troopers. ;)

  • http://www.touchpointdigitalmarketing.com/local-seo.html Touch Point

    Wow, awesome list, Adam. Thanks for taking the time to do that and share it with us. It’s definitely a list that Local SEO-ers will keep around and use. Thanks.

  • http://www.poweredbysearch.com/ Dev Basu

    Oh snap! I love a good ol’ large scale study especially when it’s about Local SEO.

  • http://twitter.com/mitchellbwright Mitchell

    That’s hot man! Thanks for putting in the work Adam. Can’t wait to play around with this data for a bit.

  • http://www.ferreemoney.com Neil Ferree

    A nice Top 50 Citation resources Adam. I like the 1st column a lot more than the 2nd ♦ both is better. BTW, found your connection via Inbound.org which may or may not help amp your Author Rank, I suspect it will.

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  • http://www.marybowling.com Mary Bowling

    Gosh Adam, thanks for doing all this work! Very, VERY useful data.

  • Marie

    LOVE this kind of data!! That is a lot of man hours! Does your team still talk to you??
    Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work! :)

    • http://www.leanmarketing.ca Adam Steele

      For now…we’ll see for how much longer : ) Just got started on part two!

  • Chris

    Im sorry, but can you explain this a bit more “Google scraped IP addresses. I have never seen this, and found many occurrences” Does this mean, google scraped the ip of the reviewer? To see if same reviewer is in multiple sites? Would google then be able to omit multiple reviews with same IP?

    • http://www.leanmarketing.ca Adam Steele

      Though we never recorded the specific examples of places pages where this occurred, it is my assumption that the domain itself was an IP address, and Goog then scraped that instead of your typical mydomain.com.

      Does that answer your question?

      • Chris

        Yes it does Ty very much

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  • http://www.SmallBusinessOnlineCoach.com Dat To

    Thanks Adam for this great list. Can’t wait for the Canadian list ; ) Think you are trying to be the NEW “Mr. Citation” and conquering some territory!!

  • http://etravelphotos.info/ Amy Smith

    hey thnx for such good and useful list

  • ajaytheone

    Hey adam. Thanks for the citations lists. I was looking for it, I am going to put my hand in local citation for my usa client may be these bring sites bring new profit for my client. I will always be looking forward for your help..

  • http://FiveStarReviewSystem.com Bob Sommers

    Thanks Adam
    Great work. Thank you for taking the time to do this research. I also want to acknowledge Phil’s comment about CitySearch. They’ve had some issues recently, but boy do they do a great job of distributing reviews across the Internet. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of your next project.

  • Steven

    Adam, You are da man!

    Mil Gracias,a thousand thanks to you for giving back by trading your valuable research for my humble email.

    Very interesting results, especially when one does a side by side comparison of “citation list after citation list after citation list.”
    I’m curious, there are currently 20 comments (21 counting mine.) What’s the ratio of hit-and-run* DLs vs those that say anything?

    *Guilty as charged;^)

  • Steven

    Oh crap!!

    I did not mean to upload that large Interpol pic of me below my post. (Just when being “Steven” was feeling safe.)

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    Hello Adam Steele,

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