Citation seems to be the buzz word within SEO at present, especially when it comes to local SEO, but what exactly are citations and how can they help a campaign? Well, as we are a friendly bunch, we thought we’d take a closer look at citations, exploring what they are and the reasons why Google has started to look fondly on them as a ranking factor.
Citations: What are they?
In short, a citation is an online reference to the name, address and phone number of your business, otherwise known as your NAP, which Google then uses to assess the authority of your online presence in a similar way to the use of links.
A citation doesn’t however need to be linked back to your website, so a plain text listing of your NAP will be enough to start gaining the authority you are looking for to move up the local listings.
What Does a Citation Look Like?
A citation can pretty much appear on the page as you wish, perhaps vertically or horizontally, as long as the complete NAP is there. To achieve the SEO benefit you are undoubtedly looking for, it is essential to ensure the NAP you use for the citation matches exactly to the name, address and phone number you have on your website and Google+ listing. There needs to be 100% consistency across the board, so be wary of abbreviations, the specifics of your address and spaces between the numbers of your phone number.
Here are a couple of examples of how a citation could appear using the NAP on this very website, noticing how it is exactly the same to that which appears at the bottom of the page;
Where Can NAP Details be Posted?
There are many different places you can get citations, including some of the following;
• Local directories
• Blog posts
• Q&A sites
• Press releases
• Business profile pages
Why are Citations Important?
There are three main reasons why citations are important to your campaign;
1. Citations have become a primary factor in where you are ranked by Google as they deem that it makes sense for a business which is mentioned numerous times across the web to be higher in the listings than one which is hardly mentioned at all.
2. The awareness of your company to the general public can be improved if you are mentioned across the web. The more NAP listings you have, the more people will become aware of your business and get in touch.
3. Google like to be correct at all times, so will use NAP citations to determine the accuracy of their local business listings and ensure they aren’t providing wrong information to those who are searching. This again epitomises the importance of ensuring your details are correct across the board as you will be looked kindly upon by the Google gods.
It is clear that citations have become an integral part of a local SEO campaign and play a significant role in getting your business ranking. Our top tip is to make sure citation building is a continual process as you regularly look for new opportunities to post your NAP as well as assess your competitors to identify opportunities you had previously missed; you should then be well on the way to having a strong collection of citations to impress Google with.