In search engine optimization, mention of a particular brand online is known as a citation. Typically, citations take the form of comments in a blog about the user experience of a store, restaurant, or brand. The importance of a citation lies in it being able to lend context to content making it easier for search engines to index the pages. Consumer citations thus become important for local businesses as well as brands as they improve their organic visibility. A quick look:
Citations Assist Search Engines In Value Attribution
All major search engines, including Google, have designed and developed their algorithms in such a way that they are able to detect the type of messages surrounding the brand and attribute values to them. When content is posted online in the form of reviews and comments, this information is crawled by the search engines and used to assist them in the assessment of the value of the business or brand for like-minded consumers who are conducting searches.
Citations Aid in Online Conversions
When customers have good experience of the services provided by local businesses and post the reviews online it helps substantially in generating word-of-mouth recommendations across different online networks and websites that host user-generated content. It is a proven fact that when like-minded customers give positive reviews online, it encourages customers to engage more with local businesses with who they have no previous transactional history. A recent BrightLocal study reports that a whopping 74% of customers are likely to trust a local business if it has received positive reviews. On their part, local businesses can earn citations or positive reviews by providing experiences that not only live up to the expectations of customers but delight them.
Structured Citations Are Understood By Search Engines
When a citation contains information in addition to the user experience such as the name, street address, and phone numbers or “NAP” as it is referred to by SEO practitioners; it is called a structured citation.It is vital for search engines to provide a user experience that is useful and meaningful by ensuring that the NAP information of local businesses is up to date and concurrent on all the platforms. Having access to current NAP information provides customers information that is relevant and useful in deciding what course of action they should take. For example, if on a public holiday, if all stores of a chain are closed with the exception of one, it can enable users to direct their attention to that store instead of finding alternative sources for meeting their demand.
According to the head of a leading SEO agency in Mumbai, the importance of having consistent NAP information can be gauged from the fact that faced with information that is varying, search engines can become confused and downgrade the listing in favor of another business in the same category whose NAP information is synced.
Citations Complement Conventional SEO Factors
The effectiveness of local SEO depends on how you are able to cover all the bases possible. As a small business takes the effort and time to build an SEO foundation that is solid, customer citations can prove to be very useful for driving traffic and sales conversions. The website’s organic equity is a vital element for the determination of how good a rank it achieves with the local search results. Citations can be the critical factor that propels a business ahead of its competitors even if they have websites that are well organized but do not have the references that indicate their actual value to search engines.
Given that the ultimate aim of search engines is to offer users information that is most rewarding it can be appreciated how useful consumer citations can be in driving the rankings. While link building remains as one of the most significant tactics for improving competitiveness, with the launch of Google’s Hummingbird update, citations have emerged as an equally potent tool.
Author bio: Evans walsh Denver is an SEO consultant associated with GingerDomain.com, a leading SEO, and digital marketing services provider. Evans is an expert on advising small businesses on ways of improving their online visibility.