Backlinks vs Citations: What’s the difference?

Any SEO strategy or activity comprises many tools and has multiple dimensions. All of them are aimed at achieving a good search engine ranking and having a good position with Google. In this pallet of tools, there are some that can be of the highest importance for the success of SEO efforts. These tools are diverse and achieve different objectives. They also have many differences and different impacts on SEO. To completely understand them and how to use them we need to analyze them and confront their main characteristics. In this way, we should also consider two SEO tools that are of the highest importance. Comparing Backlinks vs Citations and exploring their differences is the perfect way to understand and learn how to use them in the SEO strategy.

The definition difference: Backlinks vs Citations

Backlinks are usually called inbound links and are the links on other pages that lead to your page. These backlinks are a crucial part of SEO and are key to achieving a certain Google rank. They are also the core of any backlink-building strategy.

SEO elements
Good SEO effort means managing a multitude of aspects and elements

Citations are simply put any mentions of your company that is not linked to your page. Citations usually contain the complete name, address, and contact data of your company. Any incomplete data is not considered a citation.

Both of these tools have their impact and significance on your SEO strategy. However, due to other fundamental differences, their SEO impact is also different. So, to use them properly you must understand how they affect SEO and what are the benefits from using them. Link Department is a great source of information on this topic.

Citations and SEO

As already stated they are a reference to your company on other websites that are not directly linked. These citations must have a complete list of elements. So, your companies name, address, and contact data are essential for a complete citation. Incomplete citations will not have the desired impact on your SEO and ranking results.

SEO can benefit from citations and they are a definitive factor for ranking. Having your business cited and present at multiple listings can be beneficial for your rank. Many citations show Google that the company is real and exists, or at least increases the possibility that the company is real. Citations are then used by Google to determine the rank and increase the visibility of a website in search results. This ultimately means more traffic and higher sales through a website. Good results in this respect usually mean that you are doing a good SEO job that gives results. So, the conclusion is that your SEO effort must pay attention to citations and listings.

What to know

Usually, citations are present at local business listings and directories. These directories have to be relevant and there are many free online directories that provide company listings particularly for this purpose. Getting representation in these listings is only the first step.

You should research your competition and their positions within these listings. Try to be present in those directories that your competition uses. Make sure to research businesses that are referring to your competitors. These will be the first companies you will have to contact in order to improve your position with them. Using citations properly is important so make sure you research just what and how to use them and how your competition is managing them. Remember that if you confront Backlinks vs Citations your best bet is to pay equal attention to citations as well as backlinks for best SEO results.

Two people at a meeting confronting Backlinks vs Citations
Do not confront Backlinks vs Citations but use them together for a successful SEO effort

In addition, you should also know about brand mentions as they are often mistaken for citations. These mentions do affect your rankings and have an influence on your SEO although they are much easier to get. You should monitor your brand mentions and work toward growing them. The techniques encompass encouraging, reviews, using influencer marketing, and keeping good care and a high level of satisfaction for your customers.

Backlinks and SEO

Backlinks are all of the hyperlinks that lead to your page. Having a large number of backlinks helps bots to find your site and rank it correctly. These backlinks also indicate a certain trust that other sites and users give to your webpage. Search engines tend to trust pages with large numbers of incoming backlinks as it shows that the content is relevant. If the content is worth linking to then it should have better visibility. In this way, backlinks lead to positive effects for website ranking and this is why there are many tactics to get more backlinks.

However, not all backlinks are good and affect your rankings the same way. Good SEO effort must be based on knowing just how backlinks affect your website and the value of those links for your ranking. So the value of the backlink will be dependant on:

  • Website authority,
  • Number of visitors,
  • Relevance
  • Link positions
  • Anchor text, etc.

What to know

Building backlinks is one of the key activities of your SEO effort. Over time your own website will benefit from the backlink-building effort. Depending on how many there are and where they are coming from you will have a certain rank in search engines. Building backlinks is an ongoing activity and there are multiple techniques to do it. You can build relationships with other websites, use guest blogging to create them or simply ask others to link to your website. Whatever you do your backlink-building effort will truly affect your rankings and in turn your traffic and sales.

SEO made of scrabble letters
Successful SEO pays attention to both citations and backlinks

So, you must not simply confront Backlinks vs Citations and lean toward one against the other. Both backlinks and citations are at the core of any good SEO strategy. Accompanied with brand mention monitoring they are powerful tools that can make your SEO results great. However, it takes time to master them so you might consider some professional help and guidance until you get your bearings on all aspects of digital marketing.

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