I've seen many people advertising selling of citations on some irrelevant websites (with and without backlinks)… who buys these? 😁
Are there some fairytales that citations without backlinks have any direct Search Engine Optimization (SEO) value?
3 👍🏽 3
[filtered from 5 Answers]
Unstructured citations and brand mentions.
How does it have any SEO value without a backlink, especially when these are on irrelevant websites?
Holgate » Vojkan
For organic, I've not seen much movement from it but for local/Google My Business (GMB) rankings, it's now one of my most important strategies.
Think of a brand mention or unstructured citation as a shout out for your business… It helps Google join the dots. Makes it realize you are a genuine branded business and as a result, you can get a lot of shares and brand authority. That's what brand mentions can provide, SEO wise.
It also helps with NAP (Name, Address, Phone) consitancy… Basically anything with your NAP on is a citation, be it structured or unstructured, with a link or without one.
It's basically social proof. Google wants to move away from link building, link schemes… links in general. They'll always be important but they are trying to move away from that and social proof, brand mentions and unstructured citations are becoming more powerful.
For example, i find Youtube and Twitter citations incredibly powerful for local SEO and even though you can have a link, I'd still call them unstructured citations, as they are not designed with the sole purpose of providing a business citation. It's social proof and a brand entity for your business.
If people, brands and high domain websites, even non-niche-relevant websites are talking about your brand, Google will see those mentions as implied links and enhance your SEO in theory and for local SEO, they work extremely well for my projects, if used in conjunction with the NAP etc.
You can also share the brand mentions and unstructured citations and power them up with links to them lol, which I know is a bit oxymoron and not what what Google wants from brand mentions but works well if done correctly.
I'm my opinion, this type of SEO could become even more powerful than links in the near future until SEO users spam it to death like every other stratedgy lol but that's a while off and it's definitely something you should do some research on and from my experience, is a needle mover, especially for local/GMB rankings.
Vojkan ✍️ » Holgate
Thanks for the detailed reply.
In summary, you think that having something like "Aurora Ltd, 23 Hemp street, 10001 Clifton, NY" on some sites will help with local searches for keyword "carpet cleaning Clifton" if Aurora deals with carpets?
Holgate » Vojkan
Yes but mix and match it up a bit… Some with a little description, some with Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP), some with links, some without, some linking to Youtube vids with another unstructured citation in the YT description, linking to other structured and unstructured citations, some simple brand mentions, some social citations linking to the GMB and CID link.
If you don't know how to find your CID link, then use the gatherup chrome extension tool –
Also, if you're new to it, only link to your CID link with the main safer social sites like Twitter, YT and also maybe on your Google.business site but that's optional and I've not tested that massively. Look at your Google.business site as a citation too, have a decent description in there, a few anchor texts, social links and NAP etc.
How to Find the CID URL – Advanced Local Tactics
Perez » Vojkan
Yep. NAP can be referenced without a link.
Jeff Coseo 🎓
So this becomes a 3rd party citation doing it this way.
If your branding is strong you can get a boost in rankings for the unlinked mention.
But this is really to help rank in Google maps.
Google search and Google maps use 2 completely different crawlers and look for different things to rank in either the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) or maps depending on the crawler.
Vojkan ✍️ » Jeff Coseo
Thanks for the reply. Have you tested yourself if citations improve local ranking, i.e. have you seen your rankings improve without you doing anything else?
Is there some relevant source confirming this?
Holgate » Jeff Coseo
Yes I have found this to be the case but to be honest, ranking for map search has always been less subtle, I've found.
Regarding search… Although I've not seen too much of a correlation, it's worth pointing out that Google's patent for some of the search algorithms state that implied links are taken into account so I certainly don't think they will do any harm to have them.
For search, the sentiment of the mention is probably more important than the brand mention alone. I also suspect, as well as semantics, brand mentions and citations with a link or implied link, help with E.A.T too but I've not tested any of this on search…
For map rankings though, unstructured citations, implied links, brand mentions, nap mentions etc and the way you share those unstructured citations does move the needle for me.
Jeff Coseo 🎓 » Vojkan
I have the top three positions in maps for my company, and have multiple clients at the top as well.
Fairy tail? I build 90% of our citations without backlinks. You don't need the links from these shit sites. They're valueless. The value is in the brand mention on topical sites not the links 🤣😅 if you have a site that links to every known site like a citation site does. The value is diminished to nothing. These links appear good in reports that's about it. They hold no actual value. 99% don't even show in search console… says what Google thinks about them. Whilst there is significant evidence that what matters is the mention. Ill get 10 citations on a single site for the same business… 1 for ita main area and 9 surrounding suburbs so abc dental location name and ill do this 10 times… so not only a brand mention but brand and area mention. Ill see massive apikes in this surrounding rankings and it's all without links at all… just enough data to show irs the same business. Ie phone and address.
Sorry but the links on citations are only to make clients happy because they want links and its not worth arguing with them so you give them to them to make their little link graph go up but in real world rankings the mass upload of topical keywords with the business name and no link is where the movements are.
Thank you for the long post. Really appreciate it. So do you build only Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP) listings, or do you package it with some relevant keywords?
What do you mean by citations for surrounding suburbs? Can you please write one example?
Liad » Sheppard
If the Google My Business (GMB) name for the business is "abc carpet" you'll setup citations with the name of the local surrounding cities in the name?
"abc carpet New York City"
"abc carpet Brooklyn"
"abc carpet Newark"
"ABC carpet Lynbrook"
Sheppard » Liad this is correct, Vojkan as he said. This is what I do. You don't need ANY link. The link all it does is say here is another signal that this is who I'm referring to when I say "insert business name" the value of the link is nothing all it does is adds reference. It's just not needed. Just ensure you have the business name alongside a keyword and the phone number. Add an email if you ever so please. Even a logo (Google uses visual matching) and you're sweet. You don't even need the same address. Put a different address it makes no difference what ever gets you approved on the citation site 🤷♂️ they're mostly un moderated anyways. This can be done with Web 2.0 as well and comment spam. No links, just brand mentions with some sort of secondary data link to say what you were referring too. Obviously topical relevance is still important but you don't need the link just relevant brand mentions 🤷♂️ Google E-A-T hacking.
Is building citations basically adding your Name-Address-Phone number into online directories? Why do people pay to do this? Can't individuals just do this locally for local search? Am I missing something? I'm hoping to learn from this group. Thank you in advance.
People pay for them because it's time consuming to create profiles, write descriptions, and list your business in hundreds of citations sources.
Your time is better spent on result-producing activities to grow your business.
Citations are a task that should be outsourced because anyone can be trained to do them.
And ADD your link to citations. That helps you rank higher in Google Maps and organic search.
Whether it's a followed link or not, it looks more natural when a website has a mix.
Anyone willing to participate in a test that would prove if these citations help with ranking.
The idea is to create 2 dummy GMB listings, one with citations without links, and the other without links and citations and to wait for 2 months to see which one would rank first.
LOL Citations are a very small piece. CTR and grids are how you rank GMBs.
So why do you claim that citations work then?
SEO is complex but proving if some tactic works is essential for knowing what is and what isn't a ranking factor.
Btw. you should really work on expressing yourself.
Ben Allen 🎓 » Vojkan
I think you're mistaken. Citations have never been about backlinks – in fact, no backlink tool even takes them into account for a reason. They are to help propagate your business information. It's very, very common knowledge that they are vital for local SEO. Yes, you can arguably rank without them, as a lot of lead gen sites do, but they do other stuff to offset the lack of citations. As with any SEO campaign, there are countless factors, and citations are one of them but a big one. That test wouldn't really prove anything. That's like saying site speed doesn't matter because you can rank without it. Of course you can. But it's still a ranking factor.
Vojkan ✍️ » Ben Allen
Speed helps with user experience, so it is an indirect SEO factor.
How can Google connect some citation without a link to your site or your GMB profile?
If it relies on NAP those aren't so reliable indicators because they aren't always in the same format.
Also, how does citation left on some foreign site help with local ranking?
Or how does it deal with business centers which hold hundreds of companies?
And if you haven't tested, how do you know citations work for local ranking? You want to say that you use them just because others use it?
Ben Allen 🎓 » Vojkan
Site speed is a direct ranking factor in itself and has been for 11 years at least. User experience is an indirect ranking factor as user metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s are direct ranking factors.
Google has not needed links to connect the dots in years. You seem to have an extremely limited view of what Google's capabilities are if you think they can't tell which business a citation belongs to without a link, and if they will struggle to connect NAP information across citations just from different phone number formatting. Entity mapping is a thing, and that is off mere brand mentions and descriptions of an entity. That's what they've been working on for the last 3+ years. Citations have actual NAP information which is astoundingly simple to connect the dots with compared to entity mapping, and Google has been able to track NAP information without links for at least a decade. That is why NAP consistency used to be one of the most important local SEO ranking factors and is less so now, because Google can track your business across the internet in other ways now. If you have any doubt about the sheer brilliance and resources needed for their entity mapping which is mostly not based on links, look at their patents and consider the knowledge panel. Google decides who gets a knowledge panel not from links but from whether they see you as "notable" enough. An agency can have all the high-quality backlinks in the world and not have a knowledge panel, and a local photographer who isn't even on Wikipedia *can* have a knowledge panel (I know because my client has one and we did not request it).
Regarding the foreign citations, I don't really know what you mean. I don't think I mentioned those. In 2021 all that really matters are the tier 1 citations. Tier 2/3/4 citations do next to nothing now.
I know citations work for local ranking because I have been doing local SEO for 7 years and have been outranking competitors from doing better citations alone for almost the same amount of time.
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