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What is a citation in SEO?

A citation in SEO refers to an online reference to your business’ name, address and phone number, also known as your NAP. Google uses citations the same way it uses backlinks to your website to evaluate the authority of your business. However, unlike with links, you get credited for citations even if they aren’t linked to your company website.

In order for a citation to benefit your SEO strategy, it must be identical to the NAP listed on your company website and your Google My Business page. This means you need to keep your business name and address format (abbreviations, suite number, etc.) consistent everywhere, along with your phone number (+1, spaces or no spaces, etc.).

Why are citations important?

Citations are one of the top factors that Google uses to rank businesses in local search results. Google determines how often a business is mentioned by the number of matching citations the business has, and places the most frequently cited businesses higher than those with few or no citations.

The accuracy of your citations affects Google’s own credibility too: incorrect, out-of-date, or falsified contact information makes Google’s search results appear unreliable. If the exact same NAP is listed across hundreds of sites, Google trusts that it’s accurate and will be more inclined to show it to online searchers. Citations also increase visibility for your business, raise brand awareness, and provide more ways for potential customers to find you online and, subsequently, contact or visit you.

Where can you get citations?

Citations don’t just come from online business directories. While local or industry directories are a great place to get citations from, you can also get citations from review sites, social media, blogs, and discussion forums. Having citations here is valuable because people visiting these sites have a more focused idea of what they’re looking for, increasing the likelihood of them converting.

In addition to business directories, here are some other sources for citations:

  • Article and guest post bylines

  • Press releases

  • Image and video descriptions

  • Business profile pages

  • Question and answer sites

  • Forum signatures

BirdEye and citations

BirdEye helps you keep your NAP consistent across 70+ consumer sites and business directories. With BirdEye, discover where your citations are missing or inaccurate, then simply update your business information once in your dashboard to automatically sync changes across the web.

Learn more about managing Online Presence with BirdEye →