Link Types


Glossary  |  2 mins

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Citations are any online references that showcase a business’s information. Citations usually cover NAP information: Name, Address, and Phone Number. Though there are a number of variations for the citation format, and additional information that can be added to citations, all of them include a business’s NAP as standard.

There are several benefits of local citations, the main one being that they help establish your company as a local business in the eyes of Google. Citations will provide Google with credible information about your company, and help you gain a rank in your region’s Google Local Map Pack, the section that appears at the top of a search engine result page (SERP) when you execute a search with local intent.

To gain citations, you’ll need to provide consistently accurate information about your business on any sites where they might appear, giving Google multiple sources it can use to corroborate these details.

Aside from listings in online directories like Thompson Local and Yelp, Google considers a range of factors when determining whether or not to display your listing for searches relating to your products or services. One of the key variables is your business’s proximity to the location of the searcher, alongside other standard ranking factors.

Citations for business can be divided into two categories. The first is structured citations, which tend to appear on directories like Yelp, and follow a strict, inflexible structure, with details contributed and controlled by the business it’s referencing. The other type is unstructured citations, which tend to appear on blogs, business journals, and other kinds of sites. The businesses being referenced will have no direct control over unstructured citations, and they can often have vague or incomplete information.

Before doing anything in the way of building citations, businesses must ensure that they have an accurate and functional Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). A Google Business Profile can be thought of as a kind of super citation that will give your brand an instant boost in legitimacy in the eyes of your target customers.

Once this is in place, you can begin registering your business with some of the most popular local business aggregators, such as Yelp, Facebook and The Yellow Pages. Depending on your location and industry, there may be many other directories that can give you valuable citations. Companies in the hospitality industry, for example, may want to register on TripAdvisor, and solicitors may want to register on The Law Society.

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Citations FAQs

Are citations good for SEO?

Citations are important for SEO, especially at a local level, as they serve as powerful trust signals to search algorithms, telling search engines that your business exists, and that essential details about it are verified by multiple sources.

Do citations count as backlinks?

Citations can count as backlinks, although this depends on where the citation is hosted. Many directories have a policy of giving all new citation links a “nofollow” attribute. This means that while the links can be a source of referral traffic, Google won’t take the link into account when gauging your site’s authority.

Questions to ask your link builder