In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), a citation is a direct mention of a specific brand within an online platform. Some of the more common examples of online citations are comments published within a community blog about a favorite local coffee shop or an unpleasant experience working with a franchise outlet.
Citations serve as contextual forms of content that are recognized and indexed by search crawlers. On a local level, citations have the ability to improve organic visibility for small businesses and community brands alike.
Consumers mentioning a local brand within an online platform can offer a number of benefits that ultimately allow small businesses to increase their visibility within each major search engine.
Citations help search engines attribute value
Google and other major search engines have designed their algorithms to be able to detect and attribute value based on the type of messaging that surrounds a brand.
When online consumers publish content in the form of comments or reviews, search engines are able to crawl this information and use it to help them assess how valuable a particular business is for other like-minded consumers.
Citations support online conversions
When local businesses provide experiences that elicit positive online reviews, they can catalyze word-of-mouth marketing across social networks and other user-generated content websites.
Online consumers are more likely to engage with a local business if they have attracted positive reviews from other like-minded consumers. In fact, 74 percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, according to a recent report offered by BrightLocal .
Businesses can earn positive reviews or citations by continuously providing an experience that aligns with the intentions of the target audience and satisfies their specific needs.
Search engines understand structured citations
Structured citations are fundamental points of information about a business that include their name, address and phone number. Most local SEO strategists refer to this as “NAP.”
Maintaining current NAP information and ensuring that details are in sync across all existing platforms is important for search engines and their ability to provide consumers a meaningful experience.