What is a Citation & Why is it Important?
How Can Citations Help Your Business?
As a healthcare professional, you are no doubt always hungry for new patients. You understand that the way to get new patients is to market your practice. That may be through direct mail, radio, TV or countless online marketing options.
Whether it be through search engines, social media or advertising, establishing an online presence is absolutely necessary to your business’s marketing efforts in today’s world.
Citations (or Directory Listings) have become an extremely effective search engine optimization strategy in regards
to Local SEO for doctors and they will only become more important to healthcare professionals. Avoid being left behind and begin incorporating proper citation claiming and optimization into your online marketing efforts.
What are Citations?
In a nutshell, citations can be defined as anytime your business is mentioned throughout the internet. Now, it’s not just your business or practice that needs to be mentioned in order for it to be considered a citation, but complete contact information must be listed alongside the name of your business as well. These mentions must contain both an accurate phone number and address.
This can be referred to by the acronym “NAP,” (name, address and phone number). While a link to your website is often and usually included (referred to as NAP+W), not all directory listing sites will include a link to your website.
Partial citations are fairly self-explanatory. They are mentions of your business that only include part of the contact information, such as your business name and phone number, or your business name and address. Of course it is always better to include full citations, but if necessary a partial citation is certainly better than no citation at all.
When using your NAP as a citation, it doesn’t matter which way you decide to format it – the key is to keep it consistent. In order to be the most effective, your citation must exactly match the format in which you use on your company website. It is important to take into consideration whether or not you want to include company abbreviations, area codes and even the spacing between the digits in your phone number. Once you decide on a format that works for you, make sure you stick with that arrangement 100%.
Why are citations Important for my healthcare practice?
As you may already know, search engines such as Google use various algorithms to rank webpages in order to display the most relevant, high-quality results. A major factor that comes into play when Google is ranking the authority of a webpage, is the quantity and quality of citations that a business has throughout the web. This has increased even more do to a Google algorithm change called Pigeon.
Citations are extremely important when it comes to local SEO for dentists, doctors and other healthcare professionals. They must be claimed and set up properly in order to have any chance of obtaining respectable rankings.
Without the consideration of other website ranking factors, if your business has higher quality citations throughout the web, you could potentially rank higher in Google than a competing business which has fewer citations. A high quality citation would be one that Google gives respect and authority. We will go into which ones those are in just a minute. To reiterate, there are many other considerations Google and its algorithms make when deciding which websites come out on top, but going above and beyond by establishing citations is a great way to outrank the competition.
How do I Acquire More Citations?
1. Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau (BBB)
As previously mentioned, one way and maybe one of the most authoritative places to obtain a citation would be through your local chamber of commerce and Better Business Bureau (BBB). Citations from these sources are extremely valuable to your business as they definitely establish you as an authority and as a member of your community. An excellent rule of thumb is that citations which are more difficult to obtain, are often much more valued. For example, in order to secure a citation in the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you must verify quite a bit of information and provide certificates and licenses. This advertises that you are not only legitimate, but that your business has authority.
2. Relevant Directories
Google makes it very apparent that they prefer relevant links pointing to your website. This means that links to your website should ideally be placed on relevant websites (in this case, directories). For example, if you are working on your dental SEO, and reside in Salt Lake City, a golden place for you to obtain a citation from would be a local online listing of dentists in Salt Lake City (assuming it has 'authority' from Google).
3. Check for Citation Opportunities
Recently acquired by Moz, MozLocal is a great way to check for citation opportunities. Simply input your business name and zip code and it will provide you with listing opportunities. They even have a resource where you can find top websites to be listed in by industry.
4. Everywhere Else
Citations aren’t just limited to directories. Yes, some citation locations will hold more value than others. However, if you can input text somewhere on the internet, why not add your company information? This can include press releases, job postings, forum signatures and even company blog posts. Similar to the quantity of links your website has, the amount of citations definitely matters as well. It is important to remember however, that similar to link-building, it’s important not to become spammy with your citations.
The bottom line for doctors (and anybody else working on their SEO) is that if you want to drive traffic to your business, you must establish an authoritative online presence. One of the best ways to do this is to embed your business locally.
Using citations not only boosts your website rankings in the search engines, but they make finding your business easier. This is paramount in today’s world, as the majority of consumers use search engines to find every product or service and every single one of those consumers is a potential customer or client.
You’ll want to make sure at a minimum that you have claimed the top citation sources. For your convenience, here is
Stay tuned for next time where we will discuss how you can claim and optimize your listings to stand out from the competition and what to do when you run into a duplicate listing on a directory site.
I'll also include the exact same tracking template I use when claiming and optimizing citations, that allows me to accurately keep track of all directory listings, including date of submission, username, password, link, and more.
Do you need help with your online presence? Contact Titan Web Agency, we specialize in doctor SEO, dental SEO, websites for doctors, and more. Don't trust just anybody with your online presence, go with somebody that knows your industry inside and out and knows what it takes to increase your rankings, get you more visibility and help you become more profitable.