Citations are often mentioned as being important in building trust with search engines and they can be particularly useful in helping an unknown business to appear higher in local search results. What is a Citation?
The concept pre-dates the internet but the concepts are similar. A bibliographic citation is a reference to a book, article, web page, or other published item. Citations should supply detail to identify the item uniquely. When it comes to local search the “unique identifier” is what is referred to as the NAP which stands for Name, Address, Phone.
The general idea is to have a Google My Business listing which is free and literally puts you on the map (Google Map) which is a global online directory of businesses and places or interest. To become verified by Google you must use the correct NAP as they will either send a postcard with your verification code or will telephone with the code. Once you have verified your NAP with Google then it becomes your unique identifier and, if used consistently wherever else you are listed online, it is recognised by Google and “indexed”. Each new citation adds authority in Google’s eyes but some sources are more authoritative than others.
A good Citation campaign (the process of adding or correcting citations) will ensure that all citations list the same NAP as can be found on your Google My Business listing and that all high authority citations are claimed for your business. It will also ensure that the additional information about your business that the each citation site allows you to populate is filled out with information that supports your business objectives and brand.
A good service will provide you with regular reports that enable you to see that you remain listed and indexed in the top citation sources and that you are listed correctly. This is important because users of the internet can provide information about your business that is incorrect and, if you are not monitoring things, it can be adopted online and provide inconsistency and confusion.
Once you have seeded the main citation sources on the internet you will find that the number of citations will grow with time. It is important to monitor this to ensure that the data is correct and that the source is appropriate. If you suddenly find that your business is listed on an inappropriate site or listed inappropriately on a reputable site, then action needs to be taken.
Your main citations are very valuable to your business in terms of authority and hence where you rank in the search results. You can help the search engines to recognise this by using Schema markup. To test whether of not your site uses Schema markup and to see what it says about your business, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Get in touch if you would like some help with your organisation’s online structured data or citations.