A citation is a reference online to your NAP – your business name, address, and phone number, as well as your website URL. The major search engines consider your business’s citations when they evaluate the online legitimacy and popularity of your company. Obviously the more citations you have, the higher your ranking and enhanced value for your local SEO strategy. Citations do not have to be linked back to your company website for it to get credit. Any mention of your company occurring anywhere online, with a link or without a link, is a citation.
Here are some of the forms a citation can take:
- Business name
- Business name, address and phone number
- Business phone number
- Business URL
- Any combination of the above
As you can see, even the phone number alone can serve as a citation. A full citation should include the NAP – name, address and phone number. When a citation does not include all three, it is sometimes called a partial citation. Citations are a critical element in local search rankings. Studies have shown that citation elements make up one quarter of the top 20 overall ranking factors.
Most citations are found on business listings directory websites like Yelp, YP.com, etc. These are called “Structured Citations”.
These are citations that can be found just about anywhere on the web, including in blogs, news websites, government websites, job sites, online press releases, etc. They are called “Unstructured Citations” and can also be valuable in helping your local ranking.
The Quality of Your Citations Matters
Don’t forget to keep citation quality in mind. Not all citations are created equal. Is the source of the citation a reputable, honorable source? After all, the quality of the citation is a huge local SEO ranking factor. It can sometimes be difficult to determine which citation sources are helpful and which are the other kind. You might want to consider getting professional help with your local SEO citation ranking efforts.
Use Local Events to Gain Citations
Hosting local events, or even simply participating, can be a good way to build up your business name recognition both on and offline, and a great way to create citations and backlinks. Not to mention, events are a wonderful way to link your business to the local community.
In every community there are loads of events going on all the time. Each of these events presents golden opportunities to generate brand recognition for your company, along with citations and backlinks. Consider hosting workshops, 5k runs, charity events… the list is endless.
Participation in the following kinds of local events can help with link building and business brand recognition:
- Local sports teams
- Local concerts
- Business workshops
- Charity events
- Social awareness events
- Art events
- Community improvement projects and events
- Storm damage cleanup
- Contest type events
- Holiday events
Opportunities abound to sponsor or participate in worthy local events and activities. As long as you are involved in legitimate, fun, interesting events that are held for solid, honorable reasons and not just to build ranking, you will end up with strong links and citations from good sources, like local newspapers, and local business websites. Not to mention the positive impact your involvement in these events will have in the minds of your present and prospective local customers. As long as you are involved in an appealing, worthwhile event that involves a legitimate organization, you will probably be accepted by the event listing websites. Many of these sites want you to fill out a basic form that consists of the title of the event, the event’s ‘what, when and where’, a simple description of the event, and a URL that directs people to additional information. This kind of listing will generate solid citations.
Sometimes it can be nearly impossible to get a link from a local or regional newspaper – even more so from local and regional TV stations and other important local sites. But by getting your event and NAP into their local events section, you are getting a citation from their domain. Remember, the quality of the citation is a huge local SEO ranking factor.