Let’s see what is Citations in SEO? In SEO citations are considered one of the important factors.
A number of SEO experts start their careers in SEO by managing citations for different stakeholders.
It is very easy to manage citations once set up correctly and it can help you to improve your local business rankings.
Citations can also be a nightmare if they are not done properly and accurately.
In the following article, we will go through what is citations in SEO and how to improve your local SEO rankings with the help of citations.
What is Citation building in SEO?
Online references to a business that contains a business name, phone number, and address are known as citations.
Usually when any SEO person refers to citations means they are having a discussion about an individual business group listing on different websites.
A number of citations are in the form of an online business directory while some citations exist.
For most of the citations a little amount of information like name, address, and phone number is required.
Many websites provide some more opportunities for additional information as well.
Types of Citations:
There are a lot of various types of citations available in the market and many SEO experts discuss which sites among them are more valuable.
But generally, the SEO community agrees that these sites are must-haves for local SEO.
- Google My Business
- Bing Maps
You can find a great number of potential websites where you can list your online business but all of them are not relevant to your business.
It is the reason that there are also categories for citation.
There are different types of citations related to different businesses like healthcare, real estate, and attorney.
You can also call them categories.
As some citations have high domain authority as compared to other citations but the relevancy of your business category is more important than domain authority.
Due to this reason, it is very critical to list your business in your business-related category.
Citations vs. Link Building
Some of the SEO persons merge group citations with link building.
Citations definitely involve building links for a site but their intent is quite different.
Google search engine also claims that it is able to know about the difference between citations and link building.
Why Citations Are Important?
- Improve Local Rankings
- Piggy Back Page One Result
- Get Referral Traffic
Improve Local Rankings:
For local SEO citations are considered as one of the ranking factors.
When you will list your business to a number of trusted online directories, it will send signals which in return increases the trust of search engines on your website.
The accuracy of your listings, quality of directories, and the number of listings affect how Google judges your online business presence.
That’s why it is very important to pick citations accurately.
Piggy Back Page One Result:
There is also an underreported benefit of citations that there are some business directories that rank on the first page of the Google search engine.
The websites like Yellow Pages and Yelp rank on the first page of the Google search engine for most local searches.
Instead of beating these websites, you can list your website on them.
You will also get some other opportunities as well from these online directories.
Get Referral Traffic:
A great number of people have trust in citations like Yelp for hotels or restaurants.
Most foodies have a habit to visit Yelp when they are looking for a new restaurant.
In this way, your website can also get some referral traffic by listing your business.
How to Pick the Right Citations?
Maybe you are not able to list your business on all of the citations out there.
According to your time and budget, you may find it difficult to narrow down your citation list.
You can’t put stress on yourself as it is not possible to list your business on all of these directories.
Now you have to see which thing will be good for you.
When it comes to which citation list you should choose first then starting with online business directories is a good rule.
After listing your business to online business directories then it will be better to list your business to general citations.
Most of the potential customers use online business directories.
Let’s take an example: some people search for a doctor from directories such as HealthGrades.
Except establishing relevance to healthcare companies these directories also drive referral traffic.
Tools to Help Manage Citations:
You can find a number of tools that can help you to manage online business directories related to your business.
These tools vary according to their features, functionality, and costs but citation use by most of them is the same.
These things can also make it tough for you to choose which tool is good to use. But there are some things you need to consider while looking for a reliable and right listing management tool.
Things need to consider while selecting a listing tool:
There are some important factors you need to focus on while selecting a citation management tool.
Variety of Citations:
- Does the tool have the option to choose directories related to a particular industry?
- Does the tool allow you to select particular directories according to your choice or does it pick on its own?
How citations are set up by the tool?
- Does the tool use aggregators?
- Does the tool have a direct API for directories?
Is duplicate suppression offered by the tool?:
- How accurate is duplicate detection?
- How much easier it can manage suppressing duplicates?
- Which kind of tracking features are offered by the tool?
- How accurately is the tracking tool work?
- Can this tool synchronize with other tracking tools?
- Does the monthly price per location fit to your budget?
- How many features of this tool are the same as other tools?
Citation management is not just about listing your business in different directories.
Instead, there are some factors you need to keep in mind to optimize the online presence of your business.
Having a consistent name, address, and phone number for all listings is referred to as the NAP consistency.
According to several studies it has been observed that having a consistent NAP listing is also one of the important factors of local SEO.
By adding your top keywords related to your business you can improve the local rankings of your business.
Moreover, it can help search engines understand your business in a better way.
Mostly the businesses link the home page of their website.
But linking to the location page directly is considered a better approach.
It makes it easy for users to get information about the business they are looking for and it also affects search engines.
There are some citations like Google My Business which also allow you to choose secondary categories.
This can also help you to rank for secondary keywords as well.
Adding images related to your business is also a good practice because it can improve conversion rates and these images can also rank in image searches if you will optimize them properly.
The best way to optimize images is to optimize alt text and image file names.
If you will have positive reviews on your business listing it will not only improve your rankings but you will also get new customers.
Google search engines look for reviews to judge the quality of your business.
How to Measure & Track the Value of Citations?
Basically, Listings management is considered an investment.
So, your stakeholders will also want to know whether this investment is paying off or not.
You can find a number of different tools out there in the market which can help you to track your performance and status.
How to Track Citation Statuses?
Some tools help to keep citations live as they have open APIs.
But some tools only establish listings and leave them at them.
It is necessary to track your citation statuses because sometimes businesses lose citations due to a number of different reasons.
If a tool that you are using does not offer citation tracking then you can also use some third-party tools to track statuses of citations.
It is a paid tool but available at a very reasonable price. By using this tool you can monitor different URL response codes.
If any of your citations will disappear settings will notify you in a quick time through email.
This tool is also available for free but it is recommended to use its premium version and it is easily affordable.
You can check response codes of URLs by creating scheduled crawls.
How to Track Performance of Citations?
As there are many tools available that can track different degrees of performance but there is not any tool that tracks how they perform on your website.
Definitely, you can track the performance of individual sites through acquisition reports but without creating a custom report you cannot track global effort performance.
A simple option is to add UTM tracking to URLs and add the same source or campaign of your URLs.
From Where to Get Citations:
In the above lines, we have discussed what is citations in SEO are web-based references of your local business like business name, address, and phone number.
We also discuss how they can affect your search engine rankings.
But now we will explain how you can make a plan to build these important citations.
Before you start building new citations you need to analyze which citations your local business already has and how properly they are working.
There is a special tool built by Moz which can check some important citations and data aggregators for your business listings.
If you find that any one of them is not accurate or missing you can start by correcting them.
Google Comes First:
A number of SEO experts don’t consider Google as a citation but actually, Google is one of the fundamentals of local business assets.
It has been said that Google My Business listing is a very important listing to manage and develop.
Because your local business listings become valuable due to Google’s search engine domination of local search.
Core Structured Citations:
There is a specific structure to build listings offered by the local business directories, search engines, and apps.
There are a great number of quality platforms on which almost every kind of business can be listed. Some of them are given below
- Apple Maps
Each local business needs to create and manage a proper business listing on these platforms.
Make sure that any one of them does not have a duplicate listing of your business.
You can manage your business citations in different ways. You can manually build or manage them and you can keep track of their statuses in a spreadsheet.
If you are not interested to do your own self then you can also hire a third party to do it for you.
You can also choose an automated citation management service such as Moz.
It will also alert you about any changes made to citations and track their progress while building citations.
Some citations are free, some paid, and some available both for free and paid.
Industry and Geo Specific Platforms:
Maybe additional platforms offer opportunities to build some high-value structured citations but it depends on the physical location of your business and your industry.
Let’s take an example hospitality industry enterprises and hotels can be listed on some very popular and famous review sites like TripAdvisor.
In the same way, Doctors can be listed on a site such as HealthGrades.com.
The home service providers, general contractors, and other business models can get citations from the trade associations’ websites.
Some of them will be free and some of them may also require some amount of money.
But it only makes sense to pay money if it will send traffic to your business.
Any kind of website or app which is not structured specifically for local business listing publications, unstructured citations occur on them.
As an example, a blog post, mentioned in a news article or a social media platform that acts as a reference to your local business is the same as a structured citation.
You can also build unstructured citations for your local business by submitting editorials or other such types of content to local newspapers, sponsoring events, featuring on blogs, and engaging in different social media campaigns.
Moreover, by publishing some great quality content and being newsworthy you can also get some additional voluntary mentions for your local business.
After creating Google My Business listing, its industry-specific citations, and it, score citations are not worthy to keep building citations on low-quality directories.
Instead, you should focus on building unstructured citations from different sites or apps as they can help your business to reach a new audience to generate leads and sales for your business.
Don’t forget your Business Website:
On the internet, your website will be the most authoritative representation of your business.
Make sure that your business name, address, and phone number are spelled and formatted accurately on your business website.
You can’t ignore your website header footer and other reference pages of your website.
If there is any type of mistake or you want to make some changes you can audit your website to correct them.
Why Are Citations Important For Local Search?
When anyone performs a search query in a search engine then Google or any other search engine analyzes and sees which website is the most relevant, close, and offers the best user experience.
Google search engine does not need to know anything personal about you as it already has all the sources and data.
This includes social media business pages, business listings, your company name, phone number, and address.
This can affect your authority and business location.
If you are using different names, phone numbers, and addresses on different online platforms there are chances that it will not show up to a person looking for business related to your industry.
The listing size and quality of the online business directory are other important factors that matter to local search.
The Citations published across the web with the purpose of increasing the visibility and rankings of a business in the local search results of Google are known as local SEO citations. Citations in SEO also help to reinforce the validity of the exact business location.
How do you create a local citation?
Google map citation is built by a local business to build authority and consistency of their business data on the web.
What is citation link building?
When you include the URL of your website as a part of your citation it is known as citation link building.
When you are building your local business citation which also includes your website URL means that you are using citation link building to engage the audience.
Some people assert that citation link building is not a good link-building strategy.
But in fact, citation link building is not only legit rather it is one of the best ways to increase your website authority which is usually known as domain authority.
As an example, if you are performing local SEO for lawyers you can add your law firm in the directory of Findlaw.
Your law firm’s website link can be added naturally to Findlaw.
The Findlaw directory has domain authority of more than 90.
It means that by adding your website link as a part of citation building on Findlaw you are also getting backlinks of a website with a domain authority of more than 90.
The collection of all citations for your business that are published on the web is called a citation portfolio.
For example, if you have published 150 citations of your business on 150 websites and directories, these citations make your citation portfolio collectively.
What is MAP citation? How they are Similar To Backlinks?
For local SEO citations are very similar to your website backlinks.
While determining your website rankings for local search Google search engines also use citation analysis as they use backlink analysis while determining search engine rankings.
You must remember that all citations are not created equally when you talk about citations for local SEO rankings.
Google search engine considers a lot of different variables in citation analysis like:
- Consistency of NAP in citations.
- Citations volume for your business
- Authority and relevance of the citation source.
The Relevancy and Authority of the Citation Source:
It is necessary to consider the authority and relevance of the sites where your website NAP is published while building your citation portfolio.
Relevance of your Citation Sources:
Your citation relevance depends on your business category and location. As an example, if you have a restaurant business in Atlanta Georgia then for your business most relevant citations would be in a particular directory for restaurants in Atlanta.
It may also require some hard work to find directories related to your business industry.
But it is worth putting effort and time into it as these citation sources can boost your local rankings.
Authority of your Citation Sources:
Your local SEO citation authority refers to the domain authority of the directories or websites where you published your citations.
As an example, Yelp.com is a highly authoritative website for citations as it has a PageRank of 7.
But you must remember that most likely on mainstream sites such as Yelp your competitors are also listed.
It means that having a citation on this website will not differentiate your local business from your competitors.
SEO Cares as Your Local SEO Company:
Through local SEO services, you can make sure that your customers find your business locally and put you on top when customers located nearby your business need anything related to your business.
Without getting quality local SEO services you can miss out on some quality traffic, leads, and sales.
If you want to get the maximum out of local SEO services then you should choose SEO Cares.
We offer much more than local SEO services as SEO Cares is a full-service digital marketing company.
We can work and help you to achieve your business and marketing goals.
We will guide you about your business industry competition and your business objectives.
We don’t just work as your digital marketing company rather we will represent your digital marketing campaign personally.