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Citations are a strong piece to online marketing you want to do to be found online.

The internet is a crucial part of today’s business world. People primarily use their phones and computers to find local businesses, so if you’re a business owner, it’s important that your business can be easily found online. There are many ways to increase the online visibility and search engine local ranking for your business, and one of the most effective is through citations.

What is a citation?

As a business owner, you know that word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising. A citation is similar to word of mouth, but in online terms. A citation is any mention of your business, including the name and address, that appears on another website. This citation may or may not be linked directly to your business website or other online information about your business, but every mention counts!

Why is citation important?

The more people are talking about your business, the more potential customers you will have. This is why word of mouth works so well, and also why citation helps you improve the visibility of your business online.

First and foremost, citation is one of the most important components of search engine algorithms that determine where your business will appear in local rankings. Popular search engines like Google and Bing rely on citation to determine which businesses are more well known and mentioned more often by external sources.

Citation also shows both search engines and people who are searching online that a business is well regarded. They serve as a form of social proof that others trust your business, which makes potential customers more willing to choose your business over those with lower search engine rankings.

Where does citation appear?

Citation for your business can appear in a number of places online. Among the most effective locations for online citation are business directories such as online yellow pages and Google business listings. There are also more localized directories online that may feature citation, such as local chambers of commerce or business associations in your area.

In a more general sense, online directories and business review sites such as Superpages, Yelp, and Businessfinder, and even location-based services like Mapquest and Foursquare, serve as effective sources for citation.

How can you make a citation for your business?

Making sure your business is included in the major online directories is a great way to dramatically increase your online visibility. For many directories, you can submit your business information directly for inclusion. A quick Google search for your business can show you how many directories you are already included in, and which websites or directories you may want to add your business to manually.

Submitting your business information to data aggregators will also give you more citation. The four major business data aggregators in the United States – Infogroup, Neustar Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual — provide syndicated or licensed data to popular search engines, which is indexed and updated regularly to help your business rise in local rankings.

You can also seek out local blogs, local directories, and industry-focused informational websites and blogs related to your business to request additional citations and improve the online footprint for your business.