Citations and Why They’re Important for SEO
A lot of factors come into play when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines like Google go through thousands of pages looking for the right keywords to display a relevant results. However, SEO isn’t all about keywords.Search engines use complicated (and efficient) algorithms which allow them to look for different, unique values within the content of all these pages.
One of those values is citations. A citation is a reference or a mention within a text to an outside source. It’s similar to citing your sources at the end of your college research papers to reference where you obtained your information from. Citations are categorized into two main categories: Structured Citations and Unstructured Citations.
Structured Citations are the citations that you find on websites such as Yelp, MapQuest, or Facebook. These citations usually include Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP). Retaining this key information helps search engines attribute searches to your business.
With this being said, a lot of businesses focus heavily on their NAP. Trying to keep your NAP accurate throughout the Internet, called NAP cleanup, is an excessive and tiresome task. It can potentially cost you money and more importantly, time. What you need to know is that search engines are able to generalize and make conclusions based on what is available to them through algorithms. They’re a lot more efficient than they are credited for.
An example would be having your business name appear differently: one site mentioning you as “Dial Company” and the other as “Dial Co.”. Slight differences like this wouldn’t harm your business when search engines look for it. Search engines have other information like your phone number and address to help it rationalize that it’s the same business. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention on your NAP. It is still in your best interest to at least try and maintain consistency across different platforms.
One of the biggest SEO citation myths is that your suite number is very critical when it comes to your NAP. A lot of people will tell you that if you don’t have the suite number for your address, you should make it your top priority to fix it as soon as possible. This myth is FALSE. Google doesn’t even recognize the suite numbers for Google Business listings. A lot of times, inputting the suite number in Google My Business doesn’t directly appear in Google Map Maker.
On the other hand, unstructured citations are the citations that you find in blogs, forums, and comments section. When it comes to unstructured citations, comments and reviews are your best friends. Lots of businesses get mentioned in review pages. An example would be, “where can I get the best steak in this town?”. People then comment and mention their opinionated choices. It is a perfect environment to gain citations since a lot of consumers read through them. In fact, 84% of people value online reviews the way they value personal recommendations.
Being mentioned in these pages doesn’t just help you land high on the search results, it also helps you build reputation for your business!