[notice]Online marketers mention “citations” often, but what are they ? and why do I care?[/notice]

[info]I had someone the other day completely confused about the difference between a review and a citation.  They are not the same. A review is a review of a business usually on a review site like Google, Yelp, StartLocal, True Local, WOMO. Citations are mentions of your business on the web, which may or may not be a link.

Reviews can also be citations and the listing of the business on a review site is a citation however the review itself is not the citation.[/info]

Clear ?

The dictionary definition of citation is “A quotation from or reference to a book, paper, or author.” In relation to online marketing and SEO it is a mention of a website, FB page or anything you are trying to rank in search engines around the web.

A citation can take many forms. It can be a blog post mention, an online press release mention, a business directory listing, a mention on a review site, Data-aggregator listings, just to name a few.

Citations are important for your local rankings on search engines. In Australia, Google still has over 95% of the search engine traffic. They judge a businesses importance partly by the number of times it has been mentioned around the web. The more important and relevant Google deems a business, the higher it ranks.

Local businesses can rank in a few ways on Google:

  • They can pay for it using Google Adwords,
  • They can rank in the main Organic listings,
  • They can rank in the Local and map listings,
  • They can rank with Youtube videos using Google Youtube search,
  • and also with images using Google image search.

Citations mainly effect the Local and map search rankings and for most local businesses this is most effective place to rank your business. The Local listings are the A B C you will see when you make a search for things like Plumber, Dentist and predominantly local businesses. This type of search can be made from the main Google search or with a mobile device you can use apps like Local, Google+. Map listings are the listings you get when you search using maps either on a mobile device or on a desktop.

When making citations for your local business there are a few things to remember.

  • Make the NAP Name Address and Phone number the same in each listing. The more accurate your NAP is the easier it is for Google to relate the businesses. Incorrect citations can be hard to correct and sometimes impossible. I cant tell you how many times I have had people wanting to know why Google hasn’t listed their business well, only to find that their citations are either nonexistent or inaccurate.
  • Shake it up a bit. Don’t make all your citation content the same. Copy and pasting around the web will not do you any favors. You need to come up with fresh content for each citation you are wanting to create.
  • Photos – to add a bit of extra juice to your citations Geographically tag the photos and use the same NAP
  •  Keep a list of the citations you have created with log-in details. Many citations you will need to update regularly to stop them being stale and in some cases removed from the web.
  • I usually create a an email address specifically to use for citation log-ins and accounts to stop my regular inbox being flooded with unwanted emails. This is not the email address I would put on the actual visible listing but the one I use to administer the citation.
  • Before creating a new listing on a directory site make sure you check your business is not already listed on the site. If it is claim it if you can. If the details are incorrect it is extremely valuable to get them corrected.
  • Monitor your competitors citations, you want more and better quality citations than they have.

I hope this has cleared up what a citation is and why you should care about them.