Mark Warner

Feb 28, 2014
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Ever worry about creating too many too fast?
Ever worry about lots and lots of citations on lower quality websites (I can't imagine that's as dangerous as doing that with links)?


Colan Nielsen

LocalU Faculty
Jul 19, 2012
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Hi Mark, I don't think too fast is an issue. Yext is a prime example of that. As far as quality, my citation team stops creating new structured citations around the 100 mark. Its not so much that you can be penalized for low quality submissions (but you never know when Google will introduce a manual citation type penalty) its more about the fact that it's a waste of time after a certain point. I believe it was Phil that referred to the process having diminishing returns after about 100 quality structured citations.

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Aug 23, 2012
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History shows that eventually Google comes down on anything that is manipulative. If they haven't gotten it today, they will tomorrow, either in terms of a penalty or just a removal of any kind of ranking points.

Therefore, I think citation building if it isn't already, may be on their hit list because citation building in directories where there is NO OTHER PURPOSE than rank (meaning there is little to no exposure or traffic) is clearly manipulative. So I avoid them. Not that I think there is a penalty coming, but because I think they are a waste of time. I've had great results citation building just in the directories that matter, optimizing my clients' website and doing good old organic SEO, so that's where I place my efforts.

And as a side note, if Google decides to crack down on citation building, I hope they do so judiciously. Most directories scrape data and business owners have no control over that. But where a penalty might be justified is when you see absolutely irrelevant listings like I found for my client, a retirement home, in a children's activity site. Clearly that was intentional and done just for citation value. On the other hand, in almost all cases, these types of infractions are done by consultants and the business owner has no idea.

So where do you draw the line? Just take away the points is what I say and stop this citation building madness!!

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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OMG Kathy! Were you in my head? Or did I type that under your user name?

You saved me so much time and carpal pain!

Now a disclaimer, before people start saying again that "Linda said citations aren't important" that's not what Kathy meant or what I'm about to say.

Citations are important just like backlinks.

BUT when you can blast them out easily with automated submission tools, similar to backlinks, I don't think they are going to count as much in the algo.

Back before everyone and their brother was talking about citations and building them en masse, before they were abused, I think the algo looked at them as a sign of popularity or proof the business was legit. Google now knows exactly how much folks are focusing on them purely for ranking, you know it's not going to last or maybe even now, does not quite carry the weight it once did.

Back when I still worked client-side my strategy was the same as Kathy's. Do everything else really well and put extra time into the on-site SEO and that will usually do the trick, unless it's a client with scrambled NAP OR a new business with no citations, then you may need to build a good base of citations to get them started.

But building 500 more citations for a mature company that already has 2000 I suspect does not move the needle as much as it used to. And getting listed on all the standard local directories everyone else does - the easy ones that can be blasted out - well I just don't think those are viewed with as much importance these days.

And if Google isn't already, I assume they soon will be looking at citation velocity. Like links, natural citations happen gradually over time. If you suddenly get 500 new ones I think it will either trip a filter or they will just be ignored. (This is all just my gut feeling based on knowing how Google often thinks and reacts to anything that could be perceived as ranking manipulation. I don't have any hard proof - just my opinion.)

If I were still working on client campaigns I would be thinking more about outside the box ways to boost activity and engagement - to get people locally to link to the site or mention the business name for targeted local citations. Sponsoring events, contests, charity contributions, local news or industry news on the site or other unique content that makes folks want to talk about the business online. Embedding "Business View" on the home page for the right kind of business, if you make it creative, viral and entertaining is a great thing to try.

I would be thinking about ways to 'attract' links and citations, instead of building them en mass.
(Again I'm talking about a mature business that already has a good base of citations.)

Sheesh Kathy said it all, then I still had to ramble on a write a book. :eek:


Aug 23, 2012
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Your "book" is great Linda. I totally agree and this is perfect:

"I would be thinking about ways to 'attract' links and citations, instead of building them en mass. (Again I'm talking about a mature business that already has a good base of citations.)"

Why are those better? Because they put you where your target market is, they build credibility and trust for your business and traffic to your site. My family business sponsored a little leagure team. They got their name on the jerseys and that alone generated business, but the mention on the site will be like a jersey that never goes away.

People are approaching citation building like black hat SEOs approach backlinks. They're important, but don't forget your objective. It's to get clients. 1000 citations won't do that for you. So where's a better place to put your energy? Answer, where it counts.
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