One of the most important factors when it comes to search engine optimization is citations. Citations, which Google calls “link juice”, are a measure of the popularity of the website that generated the link. The more references that Google can find to your site, the more popular and valuable your site will be. Here’s how important are citations in local SEO:
A high page rank isn’t the only reason to consider a link to your website. Higher page ranks on Google and other search engines come with increased visibility and authority in a particular geographic area or market. When using Google Places, for example, you are not just relying on Google’s localized page rank. Rather, you are creating a more generalized representation of your business that is important to your target audience.
This means that the content that you have on your website should be both relevant and authoritative. It should be written for the type of business that you are running. Local citations, then, are particularly important. For example, if you run a fleet maintenance company, your webpage should cite the specific state or federal regulations regarding emissions compliance. If you are also running a garage repair company, your page should cite specific local codes related to insurance coverage, business licenses, and business insurance.
It’s not just important to cite the right citation. It’s important to do it correctly. As an SEO professional, you should be able to tell the difference between a proper reference and an outright plagiarism. Of course, this isn’t as easy to spot as it sounds. You don’t want to unintentionally hurt your business’s reputation or brand. However, at the end of the day, this decision must be made by you and not by some Google algorithm.
One way to avoid getting slapped by Google is to cite all of the sources that Google has come across in the course of doing business for your business. Google, after all, will only index sites that provide relevant content. For example, if you own a local car dealer, one of your websites might have a link to a local library listing. Those two links would count as one of your site’s citations, even though they are from completely different sites. The result, in Google’s eyes, would be one link for the car dealer and two links from non-related third parties.
So, how important are citations in local SEO? Google loves them, and it’s only natural that search engines like them, too. They increase your site’s PageRank, which is what search engines use to determine your “popularity.” They also help to drive traffic, and increase your chances of being listed in Google’s supplemental index. In essence, your citations really just give Google another one of its tools for indexing your content.
However, there is an argument that these citations are not actually as important as you might think. Some people believe that links from government websites, for instance, are more important than links from blogs or other such sites. However, the truth is that a link from a government website carries with it certain weight. Google looks particularly fond of links coming from government sites when those sites are listed on the Do Not List. This weight, as you might imagine, gives Google some reason to list your site higher up in its search results.
As with any tool that Google provides, it’s important for you to understand how to use it correctly. You should get a variety of local citations, both your own and from others that are listed on your site. The links to your site need to be relevant to your area, and the links need to be from credible third-party sources. It’s also important to try to get listed on as many different local business directories as possible. As Google continues to update its search algorithm, having as many local citations as possible is one way for you to get the best possible search engine results.