Citations have been around for many years, but it is a term that has come into more common use in the last few years.
What Are Citations?
A citation is simply a reference online to a business name, address and phone number. This is referred to by its acronym, NAP.
Google uses outbound links and inbound links to help assess a website or a web page, but it also uses citations internally too. The search engine considers the authority of the owner of the website. It does this partly by looking for citations that confirm the owner, where they are located in the world, and whether they can easily be contacted by customers on the phone.
Ins and Outs of Citations
The NAP information can be shown on a website in plain text rather than needing to be hidden. As the information doesn’t need to include an email contact address, there is less risk of spammers wasting a business’s time with unnecessary communications.
Citations don’t need to be shown explicitly on an external website. This is certainly one way to go, but in the first instance a business citation originates from the company website. This helps to identify the basic information about who or what company is behind the web presence. Also, with so many websites launched without contact details made available to customers and clients, providing the right citation details on the website makes a company and website automatically look more legitimate.
What is a Full Citation?
A full citation includes the complete business name, business address, and contact number. For example:
Joe Blogs Ltd, 1 Princes Way, London, UB10 7ER (02087528961)
The crucial thing about citations is that they need to be listed the exact same way both on the site and elsewhere within directories and other third party sites. This helps considerably with SEO because Google can link up business listings correctly to a website.
A Google+ Local page also needs to have identical information so that it links up synergistic-ally with the website and business behind it.
Abbreviations like Ltd instead of Ltd. or Limited in the company name also matter with citations; consistency is everything.
Why are citations important?
Google looks at the trust and influence that a website has by looking at its link structure, the quality and amount of links, site reviews, and citations. This is particularly true when it comes to local search results, so any business interested in attracting local customers should take note.
Citation information needs to match up site to site. This helps Google to verify whether the contact information for the business is consistent or perhaps their own business directory is out of date following an office relocation or change of contact number for a company. This, again, is particularly relevant with local listings because a change in location will require in whether the business is listed with local search results within Google and also in Google Maps.
The more independent websites also list the same information for the business, the greater confidence Google will have that the contact information is indeed correct. This helps improve the trust Google has in the site and the business, which in turn encourages the search engine to confidently mention the business in relevant search results; often in a higher ranking position too.
Citations Come From A Variety of Sources
Citations do not only come from official websites and directories. In fact, forum profiles, blogs, social media accounts, YouTube descriptions, Pinterest profiles, and many more places are suitable locations for citations.
However, business directories still remain the best places to add citations and ensure they are updated when important changes are made to business circumstances. The ones below are relevant for UK-based businesses:
It is good idea to be listed with quite a few of these types of directories to provide a sufficient amount of confirmation to Google that the business information is valid and that the business is still in operation.
Off The Peg Design offer a service to assist clients with submitting their information to relevant directories and other third party sites.
Focus on Quality as Well as Quantity
Should you choose to go it alone in submitting to directories and other websites to list the business citation, do bear in mind that quality is just as important as quantity. Highly-respected websites that list the business will carry far more clout than listing the business on directories that no one has ever heard of or that seem to have a “spammy” presence on the internet.
If you are unable to find enough high-quality websites to list on, then certainly look further afield for other sites that might be suitable. This will also include specialised sites that focus on particular sectors or business niches.
Should You Go International?
Also consider whether you should list the site on directories focused more internationally or if only a UK-specific focus is required. For businesses with international offices, they will most likely need a local search strategy in several locations around the world targeting each country-specific Google search engine to match the location of each international office.
“Of course, this is where we come in, we can help you build proper citations to improve your web presence, just get in touch using the box below to find out how”