The Importance of Citations

For quite a while now the importance of Citations in search engine rankings has been increasing especially for small companies trying to rank well in local searches. Lately, however, there has been speculation in the SEO field about the growing importance of citation and co-citation in overall page rankings at a global level. Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz has a particularly well-argued video discussing the possibility of co-citation (the mentioning of a keyword in relation to a certain site or business, without an included backlink) being taken into account more than previously thought. With the hits that traditional ‘fast-and-easy’ optimization tools have taken in the wake of Panda and Penguin SEO agencies (as well as ‘amateur’ optimizers) should perhaps take a new look at citations and the way that they can contribute to their efforts.

Citations at a Local Level

At a local business level, citations are incredibly important as they help your business get more exposure and rank higher in local search engine rankings (like local Google Maps searches or Yelp! Searches). Citations are mentions of your business or its address by local sites, personal blogs and the like. Citations help your business stand out, particularly if they are accompanied by good reviews. If co-citation is truly of rising importance in Google’s algorithms then the association of your business with a certain set of keywords might help you rank in first-tier search engines as well.

For instance if your business is Lou’s Pizzeria in Milwaukee and there are tweets or blog posts claiming ‘Lou’s Pizzeria has the best pizza in Milwaukee’  or ‘Milwaukee’s best pizza can be found at Lou’s’, you’ll be ranking for ‘best pizza in Milwaukee’ even if you’ve made no effort to optimize for that term. There is probably some authority adjustment as well so if Donald Trump or the New York Times mention Lou’s Pizzeria it will rank a lot better than if everyday Joe does it.

Citations at a Global Level

If co-citation is indeed becoming more important then search rankings at a global level might be significantly impacted as well. One of the examples used by Rand in his eye-opening prediction is the Consumer Reports and cell phones ratings. ConsumerReports .com ranks really well for  ‘cell phone ratings’ despite not optimizing for those terms. This probably means that there are quite a few mentions of the site alongside the keywords floating around the Internet, likely from high authority sites as well. This means that

So, when drawing your company’s SEO strategy for the long run, take citations into account. Whether at a local or global level, citations and co-citations are organic ways to achieve optimization with less anchor text and good results.