What Are Citations And Why Are They Important?

Local SEO

When it comes to having a website rank well, you’ll probably see a lot of talk about links. A link is a piece of data connected to text that points to a location on the internet. A link to your business on another website will bring users from that source to your website.

Anytime someone links to your website, it is seen as more valuable by search engines like Google and Bing. (That is unless that link comes from a bad source, but that’s another blog post.) Because of this, many people focus purely on gaining links for their business and often end up ignoring their citations.

Citations function much like links, as they are used to drive potential customers to your website. And, search engines have demonstrated that businesses with their citations in order perform better in search rankings than those without.

What Are Citations?

Every online business has their name, address and phone number (NAP) listed on their website. Anytime these three factors are mentioned together it is considered a citation, regardless of whether or not a link is included with this business information. These citations generally show up on your local chamber of commerce’s page or on various internet databases.

Search engines put a lot of stock in citations and tend to rank websites with more citations higher on their ranking results than those with fewer citations. However, it’s not enough to simply have a large number of citations. These citations need to be listed on high-value databases, such as Yelp and Facebook.

More importantly, you need all of your citations to match. This means that the NAP must be the same for every listing. It is important that they match because when enough listings for your business are the same, search engines take that information as trustworthy and further legitimize your business.

What Can Citations Do For You?

The primary purpose of citations is to help build your brand. Citations play a large role in managing your business’s online reputation. Search engines detect when your business is mentioned, and assign value to it depending on the type of feedback your business receives.

Whenever someone posts a comment or review on your business, these search engines crawl this information in order to see how your business is received by the local population. If your business is well received, more value is placed in your brand and it will be more likely that your business is recommended to nearby searchers.

Good reviews and conversation are more likely to get your business noticed by the local population as well. In fact, a study performed by BrightLocal revealed that 74% of consumers are more likely to trust a local business if they have positive reviews.

How Do Citations Affect Local Search?

When it comes time to decide how a website will rank in the local results, search engines scan the internet looking for any mentions of your business’s NAP. These results are then taken and compared to information found on other data sources (such as business databases called aggregates). Data from state business filings and post office records could even be used.

Your business’s local search rankings are then determined based on whether or not your business information is found on multiple data sources and how well your NAP matches on each of these sources.

Will Any Citation Help Bolster My Online Reputation?

When it comes to citations, many people take a “more is better” approach. However, not every citation is equal. Certain types of websites are more valuable than others. For instance, having your business mentioned on a .gov or .edu website will provide more value than a .com website. (There are exceptions to this, of course.)

When building citations for our clients, we look at various aspects of the prospective source. We look at things like PageRank and domain age. You can also often determine a website’s quality just by looking at its front page. If the website is well designed and maintained, then chances are high that source will provide a valuable link.

Citation Building Services Available

It can be easy to neglect caring for your website’s citations due to the fact that cleaning up old listings and building new ones is a long, time-consuming process. It’s also hard to manage citations alone, as navigating the countless aggregates and figuring out how to submit to them can be difficult. However, having well-maintained citations can boost your website up in the search listings and allow more potential customers to find your business.

Your time is valuable and you may not be able to find the time to keep an eye on your business’s citations. Fortunately, we are available to provide citation related services for you. If you have any questions about citations or would like to request a free citation report, contact our office today.

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