You might think that the more citations you have the better. While you are not wrong about this, it doesn’t make you right either. Why do I say this? It’s because not all citations have value. Sometimes, they even hurt your rank. They may even devalue your website – especially when the citation websites you’ve linked to your own run some bad blood with Google.
If you want to earn Google’s trust, you have to partner with websites they trust. Makes sense?
Anyway, it’s not hard to build the right citations when you know where to start. But hey, I may be talking about something you’re completely oblivious about here. Why should I teach you when and where to cite your website if you don’t even understand the purpose behind doing such a thing. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it is best if we start with the basics. Let’s start with the most generic question: What in the world are link citations?
What Are Citations?
Well, you know how people tend to trust things that are mentioned everywhere right? It’s kind of like how politics work. The more they get to see a certain face or name, the more familiar they become with it. This consequently leads to an illusion of higher trust when in fact, they only think this way because they have been exposed to the stimulus far longer than necessary. Online, the same logic applies. When you let people see something often, they begin to think that it’s normal for them to see that “something.” In other words, they develop “trust.” In the world of business, this trust is what you need to develop in order to make people buy.
Let’s take Nike as an example.
For someone who doesn’t know Nike, it would just seem like any other shoe. It would be something pretty uneventful. Sure, it’s got a great design and all sorts of other factors going well for it but so does other lesser-known brands right? If we’re going to be really, really honest about it, what makes Nike as the “Nike” we know is branding. It is thanks to redundancy – to the consistent exposure of the brand factors that we have come to know Nike as the popular shoe and sports apparel brand that it is today. And because it has perfected its branding efforts, Nike doesn’t have a hard time ranking Google searches anymore. Google trusts Nike in the same way people trust it. This makes it a very powerful name in the world of sportswear.
So, what if you can replicate this same phenomenon for your product? What if you can recreate the same illusion?
My friend, the first place to start is to build citations online.
Citations, in a word, are “mentions” of your company, brand, product, or all of the above. As SEO professionals, what we often do is make sure that your identity becomes a well-known “fact” across various sources on the internet. Take note that these sources aren’t your usual run-of-the-mill websites, these should be high-quality sources that Google has learned to trust over the years.
In order to understand this better, you first have to know how Google ranks websites.
How Does Google Rank Websites?
There are many factors that influence Google’s ranking decisions. So many, in fact, that we don’t know how many or what these factors are exactly. We only know what we have come to know. This means that while we do not know everything, we know a few big things that impact Google’s ranking decisions.
First off, Google assesses your website based on three perspectives – how you view your content, how users view your content, and how other websites view your content.
Now, how you organize and prepare your webpage is a very important factor for Google. It basically tells the search engine what your purpose is. If your main focus is to make a big profit or to sell something, then that will typically earn you least of the search engine’s favor. It’s not a good thing, you see. Google finds that kind of purpose selfish and greedy – it doesn’t help with their mission at all which is to provide access to quality and meaningful information to anyone, anywhere. If you want to impress search engines and make it up there in the SERPs, you have to put your heart in the right place. Next, Google also checks users’ reaction to your content. If users are quick to leave your website, then that tells Google something’s wrong with your content. Maybe it’s a little too random or maybe you’re posing some danger to the online community. When there is suspicion surrounding your website, it can be very bad news. Lastly, Google seeks the opinion of other websites – it deliberates your website based on how it appeals to other websites.
Is your website a good source of information? Other websites will tell search engines that.
Do websites constantly find your content useful? Again, other websites will tell search engines that.
Do they find it useful enough to feature it in their own content? Google will assess that and see for itself.
When you’ve got a reliable website, more sources will cite it in their own website or domain. This builds the “trust factor” you need to get on Google’s good side. This means that the more citations you have, the better your chances are at ranking search engines.
Can You Create Your Own Citations?
Yes, you can post mentions of your brand in many websites – including review websites like Yelp and Glassdoor. However, these are more formal citations, kind of like what you’d see in yellow pages. In fact, we do have Yellow Pages online and you can cite your company or website there as well.
However, it is important to note that not all citations are beneficial. Some will do your website more harm than good. In order to make sure that you have quality mentions, make sure that the websites you’re posting to have considerable DA and PA (Domain and Page Authority). The higher DA and PA points a website has, the more it is likely to be trusted by search engines. Getting mentions from websites Google and other search engines trust is a big plus factor and will definitely affect how you score in search engine page results.