PeteC122

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Dear All,

I am wondering what peoples thoughts are around using the SameAs property in local Business Schema Markup for citations for local branches.

I did read an article some time back saying that this could help but I haven't seen much about it since.

Just wondered, if it's worth doing it or not?

thanks
Pete
 
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TL;DR: I'm convinced it doesn't work.

Over the last 8 ~ 10 months I tried using sameAs schema on a couple of client listings to see if I could get some of their citations indexed. (H/T to @whitespark whose work on getting citations into the index got me thinking about this stuff in the first place.)

I tried sameAs within both LocalBusiness and Organization schema. I used sameAs to reference different citations on different pages of the site. I changed which citations I was pointing to a few times. (Etc. There were a few other considerations.) Plus, after any changes, I always resubmitted my site map to get Google to crawl the site.

No dice. Not a single citation indexed. So, my test results gave me confidence that sameAs schema won't get your citations into the index. I assumed that this might be because the citations weren't actually shown anywhere in the page content, just in the structured data, and Google's structured data guidelines explicitly state "Don't mark up content that is not visible to readers of the page." That is, I assumed Google was ignoring sameAs links because they weren't present on the page.

What @Rich Owings posted might provide a better explanation. That is, it looks like Google ignores sameAs markup altogether.

Again: I'm convinced it doesn't work.
 
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@Rich Owings - That's a good thread.

My problem with building a "citation indexation page", the central topic in that thread, is that they're not really of any value to your site users. Does a customer really want to see a page listing 40 different directories where they can find the business listed? :)

In that thread, I wrote about another idea for hiding citation links from users: "I was thinking about building a web page that lists citations ... and not linking to it from any other page on my site. However, I would make sure it was in the sitemap so Google crawls it."

I didn't test that idea because in my preliminary research I found that Google doesn't like such "orphan" pages.

I was looking for a way to bury the citation references in the HTML so Google would find them but users wouldn't. In fact, I still am!

(To be clear, I'm not trying to be spammy. I'm trying to balance two ideas that are at odds: giving users the best experience & feeding Google citation URLs.)
 

Nyagoslav

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My humble beginnings in the SEO industry were in a company that had very lax rules regarding spammy tactics. A few tests were conducted at that time around citation indexation. It was easier to track results, because it was easier to understand when a citation was not just indexed, but also associated with a business record Google knew of. A clear relationship was observed between increase in rankings on Google Maps and citations appearing under the then-existent "More about this place" section on Google Places listings. In other words, if one managed to get a citation to show up in that section, that meant Google had successfully found that citation and associated it with the corresponding business record.

Three tactics showed a tremendous amount of potential in this regard (in order of importance):

1) Creating a large amount of "Google My Maps" publicly visible entries that include the corresponding Google Places record. These could be regarded as citations of a sort.

2) Creating some (not large) amount of social activity around a citation. This included retweets, +1s (back when that feature existed), and check-ins (no Facebook likes).

3) Adding the citation URLs to a page on the business website that was not an obscure page, i.e. that page should be properly linked to all other pages of the website, and then force-indexing that page.

Bear in mind this was 10 years ago, and fortunately, after spending about 2 months in that company I made the wise decision to leave. However, I've heard that the My Maps "trick" stopped working years ago. My Maps entries probably still carry some weight, but they need to have a lot of activity associated with them (views and shares). I believe very little additional research has been done on tactic number 2, and if we follow logic - tactic number 3 should still work if we are talking strictly getting the citations indexed.
 
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@Rich Owings - That's a good thread.

My problem with building a "citation indexation page", the central topic in that thread, is that they're not really of any value to your site users. Does a customer really want to see a page listing 40 different directories where they can find the business listed? :)

In that thread, I wrote about another idea for hiding citation links from users: "I was thinking about building a web page that lists citations ... and not linking to it from any other page on my site. However, I would make sure it was in the sitemap so Google crawls it."

I didn't test that idea because in my preliminary research I found that Google doesn't like such "orphan" pages.

I was looking for a way to bury the citation references in the HTML so Google would find them but users wouldn't. In fact, I still am!

(To be clear, I'm not trying to be spammy. I'm trying to balance two ideas that are at odds: giving users the best experience & feeding Google citation URLs.)
@Stefan Somborac After I saw the idea on Citations not indexed - Local Search Forum, we've tried it and it works well. It's only linked to from the sitemap. Make sure to submit it manually to Google Search Console (and Bing Webmaster Tools while you're at it).
 

ChrisP

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I believe creating a page that is not linked anywhere on the site and adding all your citations there is a great way to get your citations listed in Google.

We have a client who has two internal pages with zero internal or external links. Moreover, these two pages are not even showing in the menu. They are not "part of the site." We don't want them to be.

Guess what? after a week of those two pages being live, our client starting ranking #1 on Google with 22/33 keywords.

What it tells me is that Google will still crawl a page even though it has not internal links pointing to it. Do keep that page in your sitemap though and manually crawl it in GSC. Therefore, if you put citations on one page, I believe Google will index it and give you credit for some of the citations.

The other option I have been experimenting with was to go to each of those citations landing pages, then clicking to my client's website. Since Google knows the referral page, it may index that citation. It is tedious and time consuming though but worth trying.

I miss those days where we could just submit ANY URL to Google for indexing.

Thanks,
Chris
 
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The other option I have been experimenting with was to go to each of those citations landing pages, then clicking to my client's website. Since Google knows the referral page, it may index that citation. It is tedious and time consuming though but worth trying.
This is a waste of time.

Creating a page with links to the citations works.
 

Yan Gilbert

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I believe creating a page that is not linked anywhere on the site and adding all your citations there is a great way to get your citations listed in Google.

I've done that numerous times and it does work well to get a page indexed.

I'd be a little wary of creating a page the public can't access, with the intention of manipulating ranking signals.

It can still be linked within the site content somewhere. For example, add a link to it from the contact page with text like, 'more places that reference us' or something like that. Just tuck it away on the page, doens;t have to be super visible. The point is that crawlers will eventually follow the links to your citations on other sites. I don't see it as manipulation.
 

Rich Owings

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It can still be linked within the site content somewhere. For example, add a link to it from the contact page with text like, 'more places that reference us' or something like that. Just tuck it away on the page, doens;t have to be super visible. The point is that crawlers will eventually follow the links to your citations on other sites. I don't see it as manipulation.

I agree. My only concern is creating a page specifically for Google that the public can't find. A low-key internal link is a great way to do it.
 
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I agree. My only concern is creating a page specifically for Google that the public can't find. A low-key internal link is a great way to do it.
The public *can* find it because it's indexed by Google. And it's also in the sitemap. Sure, it's not intended for users, but neither is a robots.txt file or an htaccess file... but that doesn't mean it's manipulative.
 

JoshuaMackens

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What we find manipulative and what Google finds manipulative often contradict each other.

Rich has a good reason to be wary in my opinion but I also agree that creating a page on your website is probably fine.

Also, there is a difference between something being indexed and being found valuable by Google.

When we did testing on this years ago for Local Listing Ninja, we found citations can be indexed but then will fall out of the index, indicating Google doesn't find them valuable. Does that negate the value of the citations? Probably. Significantly? Not sure. The only solution would probably be to add a unique description to each one to see if they can stick in the index. I've had that on our "to do" test listing for years. Hopefully I can get around to it soon.

Also, when you're checking whether something is in the index, make sure you're using the site: command. Typing in the URL is not enough. We've done both and found that some pages are not there when we type in the url bare on its own or even do a search for some of the text on the page using exact match text search with quotes. But when we use site: it's there. Maybe also of interest is just because you can't find the URL through a bare URL or exact match text search with quotes doesn't mean the backlink on that page isn't counting toward your ranking. We'll go into GSC and find a backlink from a page that doesn't show up in a search but does show up in the site: command search.

With all that being said, just because you can't find the citation in a Google search doesn't mean it's not valuable. If that were the case backlinks from those pages would be ignored and they're not.

Just food for thought :)
 
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