Citations: The importance of references & mentions

Lesson 5 of 6 of our beginner's guide to local SEO

What are citations?

Citations are simply any mention or reference to of the name of your business on other websites. This mention may or may not include the address of your business and a link to your website.

As far as the search engines are concerned, this is important for ranking and verifying the existence and location of your business. The most valuable citations are those in directories, such as Yellow Pages and other websites which are already well-established and widely used.

Citations on sites such as these will likely hold more weight than those on lesser known websites, as they’re considered authoritative by Google.

Example of a citation

Although citations are useful for businesses with a nationwide or even international focus, they are particularly important for local companies. This is because Google's algorithm relies partly on citations for determining and confirming that a business is active in a particular geographical area.

Citations also allow smaller, local businesses to outrank larger ones when it comes to local searches. This is because results are more likely to be relevant to the person carrying out the search due to their location.

There are many other forms of online media you can use for marketing your business. Aside from the more obvious platforms such as company and service directories, you can also use the following mediums for citations:

  • Press releases and news articles detailing new products and services that your business launches.
  • Blog posts and other articles on topics relevant to your business.
  • Profile pages on social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
  • Descriptions connected to other types of media, like images and videos.

A citation is not the same as a link. A citation may or may not contain a link to your website.

Another good way to find relevant resources for listing your business is to simply find out which ones your competitors are using. You can find out where a website is listed online by entering a special formula including the business name, postcode and web address in Google.

For example, to find out where LCN is listed online, you can enter the following query (including the quotes):

"LCN.COM" AND "SG1 2FP" -site:

Look through the first five or more pages of the search results, and make a note of all of the directories your competitors are listed on and contact those websites with a view to getting your own site added.