Getting the word out about your business can be tough, but there's a method that might not be on your radar: Citation Building. While SEO and adding keywords can help your pages appear in Google searches, citation building offers a more direct approach.

You can't always control every mention of your business online, but citation builders like BrightLocal can help you maintain a consistent name, image, location, and even operating hours across various platforms.

Citations play a crucial role in local SEO and Google search rankings. While you can't always ensure your website will show up when someone searches for your industry in your area, citations increase your chances of being found. There are countless review sites, directories, and local blogs that can boost.

Managing all these mentions on your own can be time-consuming. That’s where BrightLocal comes in handy. You choose the sites, pay the fee, and they handle the rest. This is particularly beneficial for local businesses serving specific areas. However, it's important to be strategic about where you build citations to avoid wasting time and money.

Remember, while citation building is valuable, it’s most effective in low-competition niches. It’s a smart move to invest in it, but don’t expect it to work miracles in highly competitive markets.

Let me go over what BrightLocal does for their clients and whether their service is worth the cost. Is it worth paying $2 per citation with BrightLocal?

What Is Citation Building?

So, we already went over a brief explanation, but let me break it down for you. While Yelp and Google Reviews might seem like the only business directories, that’s not true. There are countless sites that highlight specific industries, local businesses, and other categorizations you’ll never be able to predict. One blogger might list the best restaurants in Venice, CA while another lists the best wind chimes you can buy in Boston, MA. A “citation builder” can help identify, monitor, and ultimately optimize profiles or listings on those websites. To say that’s a great asset is an understatement.

Citation builders ensure that whenever your business is mentioned, users have all the information they need to contact or hire you. It could be links, details, or even your website link. No matter the detail, it makes the profile much more valuable to you and your business.

Citations are like backlinks where one business is directly talking about another. The more mentions, i.e. citations, that your business gets the more likely and relevant it’s going to appear in Google search results.

Want to make your business more visible and competitive in your local market? Citation building is a great way to start. Business directories like Yelp and Yellow Pages, destination reviewers like TripAdvisor and OpenTable, and even review sites like Glassdoor and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are all different citation sources. While directories are the main source, there are thousands of different sources across the web, and a Citation Builder like Brightlocal can help you find them.

Overview of Brightlocal

Brightlocal's interface with an arrow pointing to citations

Not only do they offer the citation-building services we just discussed, but they also make it fairly comprehensive. While most business owners might spend hours filling in profiles or listings themselves, Brightlocal does that for you. You can simply select the different websites you want your business on and the rest is taken care of.

Owners can have as much input as they want, with a few other key benefits.

Brightlocal Benefits

  • Complete Control
  • Online dashboards
  • White-label rebranding
  • Owned listings in perpetuity
  • No recurring or hidden fees
  • Expanded outreach
  • Further SEO Optimization
  • Reporting and analysis

That’s a lot to offer, but it’s not even the most important feature of Brightlocal. Ultimately, the aggregation of all of these sources and websites is unlike any other.

With just a click, you can generate a huge list of missing or unowned citations. Then, all you have to do is click the best ones to start generating profiles. It’s a great way for growing businesses to get the word out and for existing businesses to take control of their profiles, but the system does have its own set of issues.

Criticisms of Citation Building and Brightlocal

First of all, let’s get this out of the way - citation building is a beneficial strategy. While the effectiveness depends on you and the builder you use, it’s still a worthwhile idea to get your business info out there. That being said, while citations can appear to be a kind of backlink, they’re not the same thing. As mentioned above, the biggest benefit to citations is getting the Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) of your business to appear along its various mentions and profiles. The problem is that many citations will only have that information.

Unlike actual backlinks, those citations don’t always lead to on-site content. Without that clickability, you’re not going to draw in as much traffic as a genuine backlink, so while NAP info is helpful it’s not as effective at generating engagement or sales. In terms of backlinks, it’s effectively similar to a comment backlink without an actual link. It just includes your basic info and that’s it. Whereas an editorial or blog backlink is an authentic mention, and link, on an authoritative source.

Those are much more valuable when it comes to local SEO, but you shouldn’t ditch citations altogether.

A citation is a worthwhile asset, but its success is limited to the context. Unless users go out of their way to search for your website, chances are they only have your NAP. They won’t know about your branding, product details, or blog content but you’ll get the word out there. Citations can be relatively cheap though, and Brightlocal is a great example of that cost-effectiveness.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Brightlocal’s Citation Building

So, it turns out that Brightlocal offers a couple of different payment plans. That includes a subscription service with monthly tiers starting at $39/month. For the sake of this piece, we’ll spend more time on their cost per site citation, which right now is $3.20 or $2.00 when making a bulk purchase.

Individual Price

$3.20 per citation

Bulk Price

$2 per citation credit

That’s not a lot of cash. Actually, that’s cheaper than most forms of advertising these days. The average social media ad is going to cost anywhere from $450 - $6,000 every month. They’re going to be more effective and see more screens, but considering that $2 gets you a permanent citation on a potentially popular page, it’s a bargain.

Alternatives to Brightlocal

For those who don’t want to subscribe or join any plan with Brightlocal, you’ve got some other choices.

  • Claim & Manage Your Google Business Profile
  • Personally Search Local Directories
  • SEO Auditing from Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, etc
  • Competing Citation Builders like Whitespark ($33/month), Semrush ($119.95/month), and Moz Local ($14/month per location)

How Beneficial is Brightlocal and Citation Building?

Utilizing at least one of the above strategies can be a great boost to a small business and a way of solidifying the brands of bigger ones. Brightlocal offers a surprising number of benefits for its relatively low cost, but it’s likely not going to be as effective as a basic social media ad campaign. For businesses focused on local SEO and actual foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores though, you need some form of citation building. It’ll boost SEO and users will have a much easier time when trying to find, or visit, your business.

When that user sees your shout-out on this week’s trendiest blog, they need to see your NAP info, and citation building is an easy and cheap way to make that happen.