When it comes to effective SEO, building citations is one of the most critical elements involved in earning better rankings in the major search engines. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most misunderstood.
At their core, citations are when directories and websites across the internet mention your website on theirs. These backlinks on other pages are used by Google and other search engines to help determine how to rank your website among all the others for any given set of keywords that are being searched for. Generally speaking, the more backlinks and mentions your website has across the internet, the more favourably you’ll place on results pages. This is because citations do several things to improve your visibility. They:
- Confirm your business information is accurate and current.
- Confirm that you’re an active part of a community (search engines prefer to rank businesses they know are active in their field rather than those that just put up a static website that’s effectively just a placeholder).
- Provide much needed information about businesses and service providers that may help users searching for those specific keywords.
- Demonstrate that your website is a respected authority on a subject.
Of course, like all things related to SEO, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about building citations and backlinks. You can’t just build a hundred citations in a month and expect to be on top. Google’s search algorithms are smart; they recognize when citations have been overbuilt in a short time frame. There’s also the issue of citation quality. Citations need to be written with an eye towards your overall SEO goals as well, and should adopt an SEO friendly voice. Plus, if the backlinks that are built come from less-than-reputable sources or unrelated sources, you may be penalized. This is a key consideration, as many SEO companies still believe any link is a good link, and their clients are suffering because of it.
Google and other search engines are always striving to improve the results they provide to users, and that means weeding out results that use underhanded tactics to try and game the system. Backlink and citation building, like all parts of an effective SEO campaign for your website, are not about quantity; they’re about quality.