In its simplest sense, a citation (as applied to SEO) is a mention of your brand online. Let's say, if someone wrote on their blog that last night they ate at [insert the name of a restaurant], this would be a citation.
The 'problem' SEOs have had with citations all along, is that they are not links. So, there's been a great deal of speculation in the industry as to whether Google counts citations and, if it does, to what extent.
Professionals who specialize in local SEO have noticed that citations help local business listings rank higher on Google. However, the same strong effect has not been observed by SEOs at large.
At the same time, we are now in the post-Hummingbird, semantic search Era when Google is expected to have a better grasp of who is who and what is what on the Web. Would this involve recognizing a valuable citation when it sees it? Perhaps.
Google rankings apart, there are many benefits to citations that can't be overlooked.
SEOs are a speculative bunch. In fact, spend time reading too many SEO blogs and you may be led to believe that SEOs actually like to speculate more than they like to do SEO. So naturally, you may be expecting this post to be full of… well, speculation. What will 2014 bring? How might the great mysteries of Google Hummingbird change the landscape of local SEO? What factors will be important?
But I'm going to keep this post free of wild guesses and focus on common sense, highlighting a key areas worth taking note of for the coming year and giving a few ideas as to how emerging trends should factor into your strategy.
So come on – let's stare into the majestic double-rainbow of local SEO and ask what it all means.