Understanding local SEO citations

Search Engine Watch recently touted citations as the new link building, meaning that marketers should adapt their local SEO strategies accordingly. As trends change and consumers' habits evolve, it will require precision and insight to reach a target audience. Creating buzz around a brand name or company website is still and probably always will be essential, but the ways in which the entity is talked about online will probably change. Search engines are looking to make SEO a process that integrates online buzz into rankings, pulling from social media, the website and other local pages that would affect the ranking.

What are citations?
Getlisted.org defines citations as people talking about the company's name and contact information on other webpages. Unlike link-building techniques, citations don't require any links - they're simply mentions of the brand. It is believed that companies that have more mentions are thought to be more reputable, thus ranking higher in search engines. Getlisted.org points out that citations are useful in less-competitive niche communities.

Be careful
Businesses need to know how local citations work, as the new trend may develop loopholes that will ultimately cause sites to be penalized by Google. For instance, if companies go on other websites under a different name and mention the build false citations, Google may find out and rank sites lower that are not allowing for natural traffic flow, according to Business 2 Community. Link-building is a method that Google uses to gain reputability, because it requires the company to have actual authority in their industry. However, citations are a lot easier to get. Stick to legitimate citations, or those that are accurate and structured well by parties interested in promoting the brand.

Research good tactics
In order to make sure all local SEO efforts have positively impact the website, be proactive in searching for what people are saying about the brand online. Business 2 Community says there are two types of local directories: bad and good. The good directories are safe for others to put citations on and include geographically focused directories and high PR, or highly promoted, or highly frequented directories. Bad directories, however, may cause sites to be penalized by Google or other search engines, and they include no traffic, low PR, cross-promotional and no comment or review sites. Business 2 Community suggests making sure the website is getting the right optimization and garnering reputability from quality online connections.