Concise Digital
Concise Digital

What are citations and why you need them for good SEO

What are citations and why you need them for good SEO

Posted in SEO by on April 15, 2020
Last updated on 17/04/2023
What are citations and why you need them for good SEO


What are citations?

Citations are listings for your business in online directories.

Citation building is an important Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) activity, as more good quality citations help your business become more visible and more authoritative within Google, Bing and other search engines.

More citations help build a stronger online directory network, which in turn can help generate traffic to your website.

The information in each of the citations – such as your Name, Address & Phone number (NAP) needs to be consistent across all online directory listings for your business.
Duplicate listings in a directory can become confusing for humans and for search engine bots that automatically crawl these directories.

Incorrect out-dated NAP information also confuses the bots, and can reduce your credibility and harm your authority within the search engines.

Good citations increase your visibility on Google’s organic search results. Citation listings/sites often appear in Google’s organic search results for brand searches and keyword searches.

Many citation sites provide a URL link. These links may be ‘nofollow’ links, but some are higher value ‘follow’ links. Some citation sites are also review websites, providing feedback on generic, third-party and niche sites.

Citation sites may be location-specific or industry-specific vertical directories. Besides your Google My Business page, building your citations on relevant local and industry directories is important for your search engine rankings.


How to build citations

Citation building is relatively easy to do, and is definitely an SEO activity you can do yourself. Many of the good directories allow you to list your business at no charge, or you can pay for enhanced listings and ads.

Be careful to choose the right directories for your business, and make sure you are consistent with the NAP and other information you provide.


Build citations manually (Takes time)

Some high-quality citations need to be manually applied for, and have an approval process prior to completion.

Citation building can be a very time-consuming process. The process of finding and selecting the most suitable directories, adding your listing and then checking and approving the information in the listing does take time.

Concise Digital can do this work for you at our standard hourly rates, however we think this is usually not the best use of our time and your money.


Citation Builder (Semi-Automated Platform)

At Concise Digital, we use a platform called Citation Builder that partially automates the citation building and citation management processes for our clients. This is a far more cost-effective approach for our clients than manually building citations.

Citation Builder is an excellent tool, and is an annual-based service. The initial annual fee for the platform is AUD$450 + GST for the first year, plus 2 hours of our time to set up and manage the service. Typically, this covers creating and managing citations in at least 50 different online directories.

This fee also includes deleting any duplicate records and correcting your business information to ensure total consistency across all 50 directory listings.

After the initial setup, in following years the Citation Builder costs $150 per year + GST, plus 1-2 hours of our time to manage your information if and when needed.
Ongoing management is most needed if your Name, Address or Phone information changes. With the semi-automated system, updating your NAP is very fast and very easy.

Citation-building work is an ongoing process, especially if – or when – your competitors increase the number of quality citations for their businesses.


How To Manually Build Citations Yourself

Here are some tips if you want to do this citation building work yourself.

Citations building involves searching the internet for links to high quality directories or other listings online. This citation research helps you make sure you have consistent citations out across the web.

Primarily, citations are requested on directories hosted on the web, such as Yellow Pages, Yelp, Wikipedia, Social Media, News sites, blogs and thousands of other paid and free business listings.

Citation criteria and consistency is an important issue.


Citation Implementation Schedule

  1. Build citations on relevant sites
  2. Correct existing citations
  3. Submit business details to data aggregators
  4. Remove all citations with duplicate entries
  5. Own and document the listings


Citation Example

The Yellow Pages provide one example of what links are necessary for the Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) citation link. See image below:


What is a data aggregator?

Data aggregator companies collect your business data, verify the accuracy of the data and distribute the business data to companies all around the world. When a new business begins, the information details will eventually be collected and stored in the database of a data aggregator company.


Items to consider

  1. Citation formatting: You need to follow strict NAP formatting guidelines.
  2. Budget: Finding quality citations is time consuming.
  3. Resource availability and skill sets: May require some technical SEO skills and HTML knowledge.
  4. Quality: Low quality (or toxic) citations can have a negative effect on SEO.

The aim of placing citations is to link back to the target website, providing search engines with matching name, address and phone number details.


Standard Citation Procedure

Strict adherence to the Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) guidelines.

  1. All names, addresses and phone numbers to be in same format
  2. Website to be the primary source of formatting
  3. All citation formatting to mirror the website formatting
  4. All character spacing to be the same as primary formatting
  5. Only one primary phone number can be used
  6. Keywords need to be the same or only slight variations.


Citation audit process

It’s important to record all the citations you create for future reference and reporting.

  1. Build an audit of existing citations. (if a new website skip this step)
  2. Make note of toxic links and disavow all toxic links where necessary
  3. Download a copy of your main competitors’ citations to research their quality citations
  4. Build a citations spreadsheet. See example HERE
  5. Multiple locations spreadsheet. See example HERE
  6. Import citations from Google My Business (cross reference accuracy of website)

We recommend you always keep your citations up to date to keep your “trusted status” on the various directory listings. This is particularly important if you change your address, phone or contact details.


Citation Questions?

If you have any questions about building citations, or would like to speak to a Concise Digital consultant to find out more, please contact us today.

Would you like notification of new posts?

Subscribe to Learn, and you will receive an email with a link to each new ‘ How To’ Blog
article and each new Concise Webinar replay.