What are citations? Are they important?
Citations are mentions of your business that are scattered across the web in various forms; through social media profiles, directory listings, forum mentions and even your own website. Any mention of your business name placed next to your business details, such as address, phone number, etc. can be counted as a citation.
These citations are important to gain search engines’ trust in the reliability of results related to your business and therefore increase rankings of associated pages, notably your own website. They have been proven to be especially useful for offline local businesses, as pointed out at getlisted.org, “Citations are particularly important in less-competitive niches (like plumbing or electrical) where many service providers don’t have websites themselves. Without much other information, the search engines rely heavily on whatever information they can find!”
Outside of search-engine-land, citations are helpful for consumers who may be keen to contact you or will simply now be exposed to your brand name in an appropriate context, creating brand awareness or developing trust.
How to get citations
You can get citations through a variety of strategies ranging from automated to labour intensive, and from formulaic to creative. Here we’ll go through some simple steps to get you noticed online:
Events – Hosting an event? Make sure your address or contact details are prominent in all press/publicity to reap maximum local search reward from the citations you will generate.
Sponsorship – Similar principle to Events, when sponsoring any club/event/etc. be sure to ask them for mentions as often as possible, Google will see this as relevant, current activity around your brand and presume that more of their searchers could be interested in your offerings.
Using Competitors – by using backlink analysis tool, or simply plugging in your competitors’ phone number into Google, you can see what kind of citations they have gained and go about replicating them or improving on their strategy.
Photos – use Google image search to find where people are using your logo and ask them to add your details to the Alt Tags of the file, it’s mutually beneficial for yourselves and the websites you approach.
Exclusives – offering exclusive discounts or vouchers can get you listed on various websites related to the group eligible for the offer.
Directories – a simple yet effective way of obtaining low-cost citations; search for related directories and submit your business details to be listed and you’ll have citations in no time. Services like Get Me Everywhere automate the process of citation building throughout directories, saving huge amounts of tedious manual form filling.
Citations help you get discovered, by both consumers and search engines alike. They are becoming an ever more important factor in ranking for search terms with local intent. Whether you create your citations organically through creative activities or take a more measured approach with directory submissions, the process is a still under-rated ranking factor post-Google Pigeon update.