What Are Citations?
Citation: A listing of the name, address, and phone number of a local business.
A citation is any online mention of business details. This is mainly the name, address, phone number (NAP) of the business, which we explained earlier. A citation can also include the website domain or an URL of the website (NAP + W).
Here is an example for a citation:
4346 W 51st Street
Chicago IL USA 60632
Unlike a backlink, a citation does not have to link to the business, just mention it. If a citation also includes a link to the website, then it doubles as a backlink.
The essential difference between a citation and a backlink is that in case of citations, all information about the business can be read at the citation site itself. In the case of backlinks, the link takes the user back to the website of the business.
Citations can be either structured or unstructured. Structured citations are mentions of a business on sites such as Yellow Pages, Yelp, Manta, Houzz, Foursquare, local directories, etc. These are the established citation sites.
Unstructured citations are mentions of a business on a blog, a newspaper, a PR, or on the websites of other businesses and alert others to the existence of the business.
Citation listing sites can be broadly classified into the following groups:
- Local directories – Home Advisor, Better Business Bureau, and Yellow Pages.
- Industry citations – Industry forums, Chamber of Commerce, and industry associations. The Associated Locksmiths of America is an industry citation site for locksmiths.
- Social citations – Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter are some prominent social citations.
Industry citations are somewhat harder to find and there won’t be that many for small, specific, or unique niches such as sprinkler repair, termite treatment, or shower cleaning. Broader niches such as locksmiths and plumbers will have more industry citation sites.
Social and Web 2.0 can both be clustered together. Websites such as Wikipedia, Medium, Reddit, and other web 2.0 sites can be classified under social citations.
Think of the citations as a pyramid. At the top are Federal and State records about businesses. Then there are four major data aggregators that citation sites depend upon to validate the NAP data: Factual, Infogroup, Neustar Localeze, and Foursquare. Acxiom used to be a data aggregator but they exited from the local search market towards the end of 2019.
These four aggregators compile information in a database and supply it to citation listing sites. Some citations sites have exclusive partnerships with the aggregators allowing them to sync their data with the aggregators.
There are hundreds of citation sites on the world wide web, but not all of them are relevant to every company. There are also hyperlocal citation sites that only exist within the local area. National citations can also have subdomains or branches for local citations.
Consistency across citations is crucial. When in doubt, add information to the citation exactly the way it appears on the GMB. This includes the phone number on the GMB.
For GMBs with hidden addresses, use your discretion to add the address in the citation based on your privacy concerns and citation authority requirements. Alternatively just use the name of the town in the citation.
Remember that these citations need to be fixed in case your NAP changes, so do not add too many citations as they will be difficult to manage down the road.
DigitalBull GO Tip: Do not try to gather 1000s of citations. A reasonable number of citations should be 60 for smaller towns in the United States to about 200 for bigger cities with a good mix of quality local and business citations.
Citations Audit Parameters in DigitalBull GO
Here are the subfactors/parameters for Citations that are analyzed in the DigitalBull GO Local SEO Audit Tool:
What is a Local Citation? – Blog post by Whitespark
Citations for Local SEO – Blog post by SEO Expert
What Are Local Citations & How Can They Help? – Learning guide by BrightLocal
The Ultimate List of Powerful Local Citation Sources – Blog post by Omnicore Agency
Where Do Citations for Your Google My Business Listing Come From? – Blog post by DigitalBull Leads
Citations in DigitalBull GO
22nd June 2020 Upgrade – Citations is currently #10 on the Ranking Factors standings.
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