What Is An Online Citation?

citation is simply anytime a business is mentioned somewhere online. Many people believe that citations are links to websites, but this isn’t necessarily true. Although a citation can be linked, they don’t have to contain a link to be considered a citation. To break it down further, let’s look at how citations can appear online:

  • Company name (alone)
  • Phone number (alone)
  • Company name and phone number
  • Company name, phone number and address
  • Company name, phone number, address and link

Though any of these combinations is considered a citation, a citation is not considered to be complete unless it contains the company name, address and phone number (NAP). Businesses who have their NAP data correct with the major data providers have a better chance of seeing their correct information appearing all across the web.

Citations can appear in a structured or unstructured manner, here’s how you can distinguish the difference between the two:

structured citation is the most common type of citation, and usually the most detailed when consumers are looking for business information. People see structured business citations on business listing sites like Yellowpages, Yelp or TripAdvisor. In most cases, these citations contain the NAP for a business, something consumers are looking for in local search.

An unstructured citation can be found on random websites, blogs, event listings, job posting sites, government records or social media mentions. These are unstructured because they could be as simple as a company mention. Usually, these citations don’t include a business’s NAP data.

No matter how a citation appears, it has an influence on the local search ranking in some way for a particular business. Data aggregators play an important role in getting a business listed or found on many major websites.

The importance of building citations

Citations have a major influence on local search rankings. Basically, the more times a business is mentioned online, the better chance their business has to rank near the top of local search.

Google’s search ranking algorithm has many moving parts, which means that citation building isn’t the only thing a business has to do in order to rank on search engines. Online reviews, mobile compatibility, domain authority and keyword density are just a few other factors that influence local search.

This doesn’t mean that citations don’t play an important role in local search ranking, though. In fact, David Mihm’s local search study suggest that citation related factors are very important: they make up 25% of the top twenty factors the influence local search.

Incorrect data on any of the major search engine sites could mean that a business’s information online is extremely inconsistent.

Inconsistent information hurts SEO, so be sure to have your business correctly listed with all the major players.

Not only does inconsistency hurt search engine ranking, but it hurts a business. Consumers don’t trust businesses with inconsistent information online—73% of consumers lose trust in brands due to inaccurate local business listings

Get it right!

There are no secrets we are keeping from you or a fancy trick to increasing online citations. It’s as simple as getting it right with on as many sites as possible. Local search is a major deal for businesses, especially for small businesses. A company could potentially force themselves into financial woes if their online visibility is non-existent.

Consumers rely on the internet and search engines to interact with local businesses. According to Google, “four in five consumers use search engines to find products, services or experiences nearby.” These are searches for anything, from the best dentist in town to the fastest hair salon. Local search is what drives consumers to a business’s front door, and ultimately drives top-line revenue for local business.

Make sure that your business gets it right, and isn’t missing from vital local search results.

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