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Backlinks VS Citations – Mastering Organic And Local Rankings

Many consider SEO to be a one-facet online marketing strategy, but that is hardly so. Depending on the goals you are to achieve you must apply different strategies and take into account different game rules.

If your target is high Organic Rankings, you first think Inbound Link Acquisition and Content Creation. On the other hand, if you are after Local or Map Rankings, you start by ensuring Citation Consistency and defining a Review Gathering Strategy.

The same goes for all other aspects of the SEO “Magic”: high rankings of your ads, great representation in the Knowledge Graph, optimum exposure in Google’s Featured Snippets and Direct Answers, top positions in in-SERPs Google Posts – it all falls down to arming yourself with a unique toolset and knowing your priorities.

Today we are to examine the two key SEO toolsets needed to achieve high Organic and Local Rankings respectively. And in order to delve a bit deeper we are to study the top ranking tool for attaining each of those two goals: Link Consistency for high Organic rankings and Citation Consistency for high Local Rankings.

LINK MANAGEMENT = LINK EARNING + LINK MAINTENANCE

If you say that “Search Engine’s rankings are all about inbound links,” you won’t be far from the truth. Inbound links build up the authority of your business website online and thus improve your visibility in search engines. They indirectly boost your click-through rates, the number of new incoming leads and, finally – conversions and sales.

Organic rankings are tightly-related to inbound links and if your goal is to master your organic presence in Google, you cannot reach that goal without working on your link profile.

Responsible Link Management should not be limited to Link Building, or the fancier term: Link Earning, only. Instead limiting yourself to searching for new link opportunities you should also perform some Link Maintenance. Link Maintenance would require you to regularly monitor your inbound links and assessing their worth to your integrated online marketing strategy. Or in other words: you should ensure Link Consistency.

THE PERFECT LINK PROFILE

The profile of the perfect inbound link that will boost your search engine rankings takes into account:

  • Good vs Spammy Links – the authority of the website that’s referring you is important. The better rated it is by the search engine, the greater the boost it will give to your rankings;
  • Relevant vs Irrelevant Links – have you heard of topical relevance? Well, write it down, you need to work on it. If you wish to be perceived (by Google) as an authority within your niche and locale you are to attract links from sites and blogs that are distinct niche/local influencers;
  • Link Earning Rate – Google is highly ‘attentive’ as it comes to links. Many are the signals it relies on to detect a fishy link building behavior, irregular link inflows being a good example of those.
  • Anchor text – that is not a link element that you could easily influence. However, keep in mind that anchor text focused excessively on exact match keywords (such that you try to rank for) is considered as manipulative practice by Google.

LINK CONSISTENCY

The list above is a useful guide to follow when working on your Link Management Ranking Strategy. You need to make sure that all the elements in that list are consistent with Google guidelines. Here we use the term Link Consistency to define the best standard your links need to adhere to as to give you the ranking boost your site deserves.

Having Inbound Link Profile that is consistent with Google guidelines means that you have a predominately good, authority links that are relevant to your industry and area served; they are earned at a steady pace in a long-term perspective, and have anchor text that is not unusually concentrated on the keywords you want to rank for.

LINK INCONSISTENCY: THREATS

As mentioned above links are of huge importance to rankings in general, especially organic. Thus any attempted manipulation in this direction will undoubtedly attract Google’s attention and you risk to fall victim to:

  • a Manual Penalty – and some of your pages or your whole website could get deindexed from Google;
  • an algorithmic penalty – and your search engine rankings will take a nosedive for an indefinite period of time (algorithmic penalties are harder to overcome than manual ones). 

Whatever the case, your options are pretty gloomy to say the least. Thus be smart and organize a Link Management procedure in your SEO strategy and make sure to both enrich and monitor/maintain your link profile diligently.

THE PERFECT BUSINESS CITATION PROFILE

Enough with organic rankings, let’s talk some Local SEO. And don’t get me wrong, ‘consistent’ inbound links are quite important for local rankings as well, however, Local has a small shift in weights as it comes to the ranking factors of the Local SEO toolbox.

Among the top influential elements in your Local Ranking strategy should be dedicated to your Business Citations.

Business citations are nothing more than an online business card, containing your business Name, Address and Phone number (NAP), posted on business directories. On business directories your citations, the NAP mentions of your business are presented as listings (directory profiles of your business).

And here we come to the essential part: what makes up for a perfect business citation?

The perfect citation profile consists of citations, quoting your up-to-date, correct business NAP.

That’s it! It’s that simple, yet the majority of local businesses struggle with poor local rankings, just because they are far from maintaining the perfect citation profile. Let’s talk citation consistency …

CITATION CONSISTENCY

As explained above citation consistency requires a single rule to be carefully observed: not to tolerate business citations that are outdated or incorrect. Fixing your inconsistent citations would improve your online business profile and thus will give Google good signals about ranking your business as an authority in your niche and area.

CITATION INCONSISTENCY: THREATS

Citation Inconsistency

What can go wrong if your citations are inconsistent? Well, nothing much, except from Google being confused as to which is your real business name, or office address, or phone number. Confusing Google has never been a good thing, especially if you wish it to favor you in its index. You risk your Local rankings and that’s already a high price to pay!

Figuring out Citation Inconsistency can be a challenge, but if you are a proud geek, enjoying The Star Wars saga and wishing to learn more about Citation Inconsistency and what factors may actually cause it, you might enjoy a more sci-fi explanation like The Local SEO Wars: Episode I. The Citation Inconsistency Awakens. It is a fun industry infographic explaining the realm of citations via Star Wars characters and parallels, that would help you figure out intricacies of Local SEO.

THE WAY TO ONLINE DOMINATION

The perfect mix of consistent link and citation profile will give you the edge you need to outperform your online competitors: you just need to invest some diligence and hard work and the results will soon follow.

Remember that Google’s ranking algo stands by the following assumption: “Consistency and accuracy instills believability.” Take advantage of this notion and work on your Link and Citation Consistency.

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