Google Local Citation Sites
We get a lot of questions about what sites to add that are good for Google Local Citations. Even with the recent changes to Google Places (not showing citations anymore) there is a considerable amount of belief that adding a “citation” link to your back link’s can be helpful in your Google Places rankings.
In our experience, adding sites for the primary purpose of gaining a citation had lost most of its value last year. We don’t make this statement out of simple opinion, but based on assessing local web sites places rankings for over 4 years.
For a brief time we thought Google may have just stopped indexing the deep pages associated with many of the common citation sites people would use. An example may have been a listing on Merchant Circle. Merchant Circle was built around (according to their PR) getting a local site ranked higher and bringing it more local traffic. I am not picking on them, there are hundreds of on line yellow page sites, and directories that web masters, SEO’s and others used for adding citations and trying to boost their sites rankings in Local directories. The truth seems to be; today those sites have almost no value in bring your local site traffic or rankings!
But Google does continue to index these pages. One difference between a year ago and now (August 2011) is many of these citations don’t show up as a link in our back link reports. And it’s not that we use just one back link reporting tool, we use 5 different tools, because you get different information from each, depending on their methodology on how they acquire the back links to a site. We also do manual checks to as a final scrub so to speak. So those lead us to looking at it in a different light. That being, more from a link value stand point, than a citation value.
So what happened? And how can we learn from it.
Our opinion is pretty simple and falls in line with the basic principle that Google is looking for the best quality sites for a keyword search. We think this started in the Local search area with last October’s update when Google changed significantly how a Local Maps listing was ranked, by blending the organic ranking factors into the Maps results, or to be more accurate, by weighting those factors far more heavily. And these local ranking factors have continued to evolve with the Panda updates this year.
Here is our thought. Pre Google changes the domain authority of the site you had a citation or link on was far more important than it is today, with the Page authority having less importance. Let’s take a completely made up model of that.
Your link appears on a P.R. 7 site. ( I know PR is not the metric to use and we don’t, but it’s the commonly understood vernacular of basic SEO) and your site appears on a page that has no external links to it or any real ranking authority of it’s own. In the old days it was clear your site still received some value based on the domain authority. Lets call it a formula like this. Link value equals: ( Domain Authority / 2 )+( Page authority / outbound links on page). DO NOT TRY AND ANALYZE THIS FORMULA. I made it up and its only supposes to show that the domain had a higher influence on the Link value.
We think today Google is primarily looking at the page authority of your link or citation, and has discounted significantly the added value of the Domain Authority (P.R., or SEOmoz DA) . So a link or citation is as good as the Page it’s on, not the Domain it’s on.
Is it really this simple? No! Those people at Google are smart as a whip as my Mom use to say (I still don’t get that saying, or was it sharp as a whip, or tack? ) But for those of us who work on web visibility and promotion, it’s a good guide, and it’s working for us.
And it is in complete harmony with Google’s public position on why sites rank well. More on that statement later.
Like all opinions on what makes a web site rank well, this is just an opinion. It does seem to be proving accurate to the extent we can test it with our web promotion programs. We would love to hear from others on what they see as important ranking factors. Remember our Golden Rule of SEO. If you would take a certain action irregardless of how it will affect your sites ranking, and only because it will give your site better traffic and visibility, it’s a good thing to do. If you are taking an action solely for the perceived value it will bring in your sites ranking, it’s not going to help long term.
P.S. (Bad news for all those marketing companies promoting that they will add a link to your site on 100 P.R. 7 blogs for $7.00. huh?
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