What are citations? Citations are just listings on websites, that contain basic information about the business. It’s important to make sure all information is accurate on citations, since they are the front line for your users to your website! Citation optimization is the process of updating NAP listings located on various directories online.

This information is normally in the standard form called NAP:

  • N – Name
  • A – Address –
  • P – Phone Number

Citations are often located on directory websites, which are large listings of other businesses, like a digital phonebook. Citations are valuable to users since they have the business name, address and phone number, and many times a website url as well. And that is where the confusion sometimes happens.

When citations are considered backlinks, when the link that you find on a citation is just a part of a citation, plus many times is going to be nofollow. Nofollow backlinks still count as backlinks, but carry much less weight to them and aren’t seen as the same trust factors that dofollow backlinks have.

Often directories will purpose list outdated information either because they are scraping the content from online, and don’t care about accuracy or inaccurate information is what they want, so the business will feel more inclined to pay the fee to ” correct the NAP ” information section. That can fall into the realm of against Google guidelines, since it could be considered ” buying a backlink ” or ” buying a directory listing ” which Google frowns upon.

A better way to handle inaccurate NAP information, is to email the directory owners and request a change or request the removal of the directory listing. If the NAP listing is on a spammy directory website, there is a good chance Google and other search engines are ignoring it already, but if there is a dofollow backlink on that spammy looking directory, you may need to setup a disavow rule for that website.

Submitting A Website To Every Directory Listing Is Bad Mmmkay

Not every directory citation is created equal, as we mentioned above, you may need to disavow a directory backlink, if it’s dofollow and seems spammy, as it could even be a clue to a larger negative SEO campaign being carried out on your website. It happens more than many would think in this new age of algorithms and technical marketing.

Many times the ” free directory listing ” websites that claim to give web 2.0 backlinks or citations aren’t nothing more than a templated directory website, linked to many clones, that will just send your submission to hundreds of low quality most often discounted directory websites and instead of helping, they hurt.

Google has gotten pretty good about seeing the bad actors from the good, and will in many cases ” discount ” bad backlinks, as a form of filter in conjunction to the penguin algorithm that many talk about when backlinks are mentioned. The problem with relying on Google for bad backlink detection is, it’s slow and not often faster than the algorithmic penalty for bad backlinks. So why take your chances, when you can get ahead of the curve and do proactive SEO?