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, and phone number (NAP) of the business, which we explained earlier. A citation can also include the website domain or a URL of the website (NAP + W).
Here is an example of a citation:
4346 W 51st Street
Chicago IL USA 60632
A citation is just a just mention of the business. Unlike a backlink, it does not have to contain a link. If a citation also includes a link to a website, then it doubles as a backlink.
Another essential difference between a citation and a backlink is that in the case of citations, other information about the business (such as the owner, amenities, working hours, etc.) 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 a website. Sites such as Yellow Pages, MapQuest, Yelp, Manta, Whitepages, and Houzz are some established citation sites.
Unstructured citations are mentions of a business on a blog, forum, newspaper, 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, Yellow Pages, etc.
- Industry citations – Industry forums, Chamber of Commerce, and industry associations. For example, the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) is an industry citation site for locksmiths.
- Social citations – Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, 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 three major data aggregators that citation sites depend upon to validate the NAP data: Data Axle, Neustar Localeze, and Foursquare. These are the big 3 data aggregators in the local search market.
These aggregators compile information in a database and supply it to citation listing sites. Some citation 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 your Google Business Profile. This includes the phone number on the GBP.
For GBPs 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 thousands of citations. A reasonable number is around 60 for smaller towns in the United States to about 200 for bigger cities with a good mix of quality local and business citations.
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