What is a citation?
A citation is any mention of your business out on the web. It can come in various forms and consists of any combination of one or more of the following four items:
- Company name
- Company address
- Business phone number
- Website address
Note: It does not matter whether the information links to your website or not.
The accompanying spreadsheets provide links to various sites which contain citations for your business at its current location, and for the new location.
Citations come in various formats, following are examples:
- Company name only
- Company name & phone number
- Company name, phone number, & address
- Company name, phone number, address, & link to website
- Company name with website address
Why do they matter?
Citations are a basic part of helping your business be found online.
For local businesses (businesses with a shopfront or who work within a service area), citations are a must-have ingredient in your mix. Local SEO is all about “entity signals” – in other words, bits and pieces on the web that confirm your entity (your business) is for real, is where you say it is, and has a good reputation.
Citations play a key role in the overall “findability” of a business – as in, when people are looking for a business in their area. They also create many other avenues for people to find your business and read reviews.
When you want your business in the top 3 or have higher visibility overall, one of the your tasks is to “clean up” (correct the information) and claim your citations.
After claiming a listing, update it to be consistent with Google and other listings. In other words, don’t have your business listed as Fred Nerk Enterprises in one place, Fred Nerks on Google, and Nerk Inc on still another site. Google does tolerate some minor variations, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s just say to make them all the same.
And that includes the street address, phone number, hours, business categories and more.
One really good thing about business categories on citations is they help search engines better understand your business. Often people will say Google’s categories don’t accurately describe my business. Many citation sites will have the exact category, or even better, allow for a hierarchy of categories.
Where do they come from?
Citations can be found in a wide variety of places – some a business can control, some not. You may have the idea that since you haven’t built any citations yourself, they won’t be there. Unfortunately that’s not the case. And if you haven’t built these yourself, there’s a high chance they will have *wrong* information about your business.
Examples of sources include:
- Yellow Pages™
- Local business directories (such as TrueLocal, Womo, and lots more)
- Industry related websites (such as the Australian Dental Association)
- Newspaper articles online
- Social Media pages
On the image above (links not active), you can see a citation of a business from the Yellow Pages™. This has all sorts of info about the business including all four key elements. Citations can be this extensive, or completely minimal such as a business name written in a blog post.
I have been working with local businesses as a Local SEO specialist since 2010 and as a Google My Business Product Expert (formerly called Top Contributor) since 2016. I write about GMB suitable for most folks, business owners included.
When not working for clients, I volunteer with the local businesswomen’s network, volunteers on Google’s forum, and the Local Search forum.
Away from the keyboard I’m a very busy mother with two boys, nine chickens, two cows, three sheep, a cockatiel and a stupidly happy dog.
Read more about me on the “about” page!