One of the questions we are most commonly asked at Bowler Hat is what is a citation, how does that work for SEO and more importantly how does that help local and small businesses improve their traffic from search engines?
What is a citation?
In simple terms, a citation is a mention of your business name on another website. Citations may include a link to your website but that is in no way essential. Surprisingly, given the confusion, that is pretty much all there is to it.
Why are citations important for SEO?
Citations are an important part of the search algorithm and are used by the search engines to help determine where to rank your site amongst the competition. In simple terms, for small and local businesses if you have more citations than the other man then you will likely be returned above them in the search engine result pages.
Are you a real business?
If you are a real business then you likely have an office and an address and citations are a simply a tool that Google uses to verify that you are indeed a real business. Getting citations from high-quality sites often requires verification via phone or postcard so the citations that are more tricky to obtain are often the ones that carry the most weight with the search engines as they are less likely to be manipulated or faked.
Are all citations created equal?
No, citations from big important sites like Yell.com are going to carry more weight than a citation from small new sites. Additionally, if you are a local business then citations from the local chamber of commerce or other important, local directories or sites is only going to help reinforce your position within the local business community. In turn, this all helps Google and the major search engines trust that you are a trusted local business and that they can return pages from your site in the search results.
How does this help for SEO?
In simple terms citations help you get found by people looking for the services you provide. But, as with everything SEO, it is simple in principle but there is a lot going on when you dig into this in more detail. Consistency of the name, address and postcode (NAP); reviews for your business, your listings on the Google+ Local platform, the popularity and content of your website along with several other factors all work together to help build trust in you as a local service provider.
Citations & SEO for Small Businesses
In many cases, for small businesses, operating in a given city or town, citations can be a powerful way to ensure you are more visible and get found for locally driven search queries.
If you have any questions about small business SEO or how to build citations for your Local business then follow us on Facebook or Twitter and fire over your question and we will happily address it in a later post.