Citation (Business listings in Local directories, such as Google+, Yelp, Citysearch, etc) can be defined as a mention of your business across web pages. A citation is only a mention, it does not need to link back to your website. A citation can come in varying details like just the mention of:
Only business name
Business name with contact information
Business name with contact information and a back link
While even a mention of your business phone number may be considered a citation a complete citation will involve a mention of your business name, contact information and a back link.
So why do citations matter so much for your business?
Google considers citations to be a key factor in determining the local ranking of your business. It is estimated that a 25% weight age might be given to citations in determining the local search engine rank.
There are structured citations which are the common type of citations from established yellow pages. Then there are unstructured citations from blogs, job boards and news boards. These unstructured citations are very valuable for your local business.
How to increase structured and unstructured citations for your website?
There are endless places to get your local citations. It is imperative that every business should focus on building a strong network of citations which will help in Google ranking.
Local data aggregators have millions of business citations compiled from phone records and business registrations.
Local business directories like Yelp are also crawled by Google search bots for citations that validate your business information.
A mention in a local, high authority blog is regarded as a high value citation.
A citation in local directories and industry specific directories also are valid citations.
As they say, not all citations are made equal. A complete citation of your business in a .gov website will be much higher in value than a similar mention in a spammy directory.