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Link Building and Citations
Both links and citations associated with your website are considered important aspects of a successful SEO strategy, and the general foundation for your digital marketing campaign.
With citations and links featuring in the top local search ranking factors, it's important to understand and build these powerful tools in order to utilise them effectively and improve search engine rankings.
What are Citations?
Simply put, citations are references to your Business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) on another website. Google and other search engines use evidence of citations to evaluate the quality and authority of your website; but unlike links, citations generally appear in plain text and don’t need to directly link to your site.
Here's a citation example for our website:
Cloud 9 Online, Suite 2, 38 Brookhollow Ave, Baulkham Hills, NSW 2153 (02) 9114 9925
Whilst there is no official citation structure, consistency in your citation references across the Internet is considered best practise to ensure search engines clearly recognise you and connect them to your site.
Online directories such as Yellow Pages, White Pages, TrueLocal and WhereIs are the most obvious sources of citations for businesses to target, however they are not the only valuable sources. Citations from relevant forums, bloggers, news outlets and Q&A sites can also be extremely valuable by affirming to Google that your website is a serious player in a particular area or industry.
Why Citations are Important
Citations are a leading factor for search engines to decide on the relevance of your website for local search results – who quite rightly determine that a business mentioned a lot on other websites (especially trusted sites, relevant to your location or industry) deserve a higher ranking in search results than a business scarcely referenced across the web.
Local businesses have the most to gain from valuable citations by:
- Improving Local Search Rankings – a Sydney Pet Shop that is cited frequently across business directories, pet forums and pet blogs improves its chances of appearing high in search results for “Pet Shop in Sydney”.
- Boosting Map Visibility – Once local citations have indicated to Google the value of your business, you’re much more likely to pop-up for somebody searching the local area on Google Maps and thereby sending more customers to your location.
- Increasing Domain Authority – Improving your local rankings through citations ultimately increases your overall domain authority and gives your business website a greater chance at being found through a whole range of search queries.
Citations are not only valuable for local search rankings - they also benefit online businesses with a potential worldwide market. As explained by Rand Fishkin from Moz.com – though online businesses may not be interested in a localised target audience, citations relevant to where your domain is registered, your home office, or local cafes or businesses in the area, represent rankings in specific markets where your competitors can't compete with you.
This is the glory of local citations. Your competitors who aren’t in your region cannot acquire these citations that your website can be credited for, simply by virtue of your location.
By the way, if you're in Australia, a great starting point is to go the Sensis website and find out how they can help you get 4 free citation listings.
What are Links?
Using hypertext, a link is a selectable connection from a word, a phrase, a picture, or any other informational object to another – such as the links that appear in this article to the SEO experts at Moz.
In the same way as citations, search engines like Google use links to your website as an indication of worthiness for search result rankings; with many SEO professionals considering external links to your website as the primary ranking factor that Google considers.
Search engines treat links as votes of popularity in determining the importance of your website for search results. By analysing the quality and quantity of other websites that link to yours, Google can ascertain the popularity and trustworthiness of your site, your relevance to particularly areas or industries, and overall domain authority. The idea being that quality, trustworthy websites tend to link to other quality sites - while spammy, poor quality websites with a lack of useful information will generally not receive many (if any) links from other websites.
Link building refers to the process of obtaining hyperlinks from other websites to your own. Link building has been around for a long time in SEO strategy and its relevance to influencing search engine results is still very important.
Many SEO’s tend to agree that link building is one of the most difficult parts of their profession, despite there being many techniques for building links with varying levels of difficulty, such as:
- Natural Link Building – which doesn’t require any specific action other than having great content that can be easily found by others, who will then genuinely want to link to it from their sites.
- Manual Link Building – where you acquire links manually by deliberately sourcing them, whether that be submitting to site directories, outreach to bloggers and news outlets, or other ways of convincing other sites that your website is worthy of a link from theirs.
- Self-Created Link Building – there are many opportunities online to create your own links back to your site, whether that be through guest book singings, forum signatures or comments on other websites… however these type of links hold the least value, and should be pursued with caution as Google can penalise for aggressive ‘spammy’ link building.
We Deliver Quality Links and Citations
There are many companies around the world offering low cost link building services for SEO purposes. However, in the rapidly changing SEO landscape, a lot of the tactics used have definitely become out-dated - and today Google penalises a website's ranking severely if it detects unethical link buying and building links practises.
At Cloud9 Online, we focus on building quality links through a range of ethical techniques in tune with current SEO standards. We concentrate on quality over quantity as a rule of thumb, and credit one link from a high ranking website as more valuable than 100 low quality links.
When it comes to citations, we use our experience to make sure you are referenced on all the most significant citation websites and relevant directories that influence search engines, plus follow up with professional analytical tools to measure and track your performance on a weekly basis… ensuring you receive real, measurable results.
For further information on how Cloud9 Online can assist with your Link and Citation strategy, feel free to contact us (02) 9114 9925, or fill in an online enquiry form today.