This is a guest post by Paul Richardson of LocalVox.

The SEO industry has grown rather quickly in recent years. Along with this we have seen the emergence of a local SEO industry as well. While local and national SEO are similar in many respects, there are also some distinct differences between the two. One big difference is that local SEO relies heavily on citations to determine rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).

What are Citations?

Citations are mentions of your company’s Name Address and Phone number (referred to as NAP).

To increase your local businesses rankings in the SERPs you will need to get citations and these are some of the best ways to acquire those citations.

Directories and Review Sites

The first place to start when looking for places to get citations for your local business is on local directories and review sites.

Claiming your citations on local directories typically only requires that you set up a profile/page for your business. This is usually pretty simple and you just need to type in your business name and phone number to get the ball rolling on directories like Google+ Local or Bing local listing.

Similarly you can easily set up pages for your business on local review sites by submitting your business information. Here are a few examples of quality review sites:

• Angie’s List
• Yelp
• Merchant Circle

These are just a few examples and there are plenty of places to gain citations. It is important to keep in mind that you want to stay away from directories or review sites that are not edited by real human beings as these types of sites are more prone to spam and citations from them will be much less valuable and can actually hurt your local SEO.

Blog Citations

Another effective way to obtain citations for your local company is through blog citations. There are a couple different ways to acquire these types of citations.

One way to get blog citations is by simply contacting the blog owner and asking if they will list your business on their blog or place a link there. An effective strategy for this is to leverage your local relationships such as blogs run by business or industry partners or even blogs that belong to current customers.

Another option is to write guest posts on these blogs that mention your business or include a link to your website. This method can be particularly effective as long as you produce a quality post that provides value to the blog owner and their audience. To further increase the value of your guest blogging efforts you should find blogs that are relevant to your niche and write about issues affecting your industry, as these are the places where your potential customers will be.

Check Your Competitors

Finally, it is worth the time and effort to check what your competitors are doing. After all, your competitors are operating in the same niche and essentially you want to get citations wherever they are receiving them.

An easy way to do this is by simply searching for your competitors by typing their “business name + phone number” into Google. This should provide you with some of the places that they are receiving citations from and you can target them yourself. Also, tools like Open Site Explorer can provide you with a list of your competitor’s backlinks that will also give you some potential targets.

These are some of the best strategies for obtaining citations for your local business. By attaining these citations, you can improve your local SEO and increase your rankings in the SERPs. Citations have become an increasingly significant portion of local SEO rankings and they should be an integral part of your local SEO strategy.

Paul Richardson is a small business marketing professional who focuses on local SEO. For more information on small business and local SEO strategies, visit LocalVox.