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Citations: What They Are, And Why You Should Be Using Them

If you’ve been hanging around blogs over the last year or so, you’ll realize that citations are a big thing. Citation is a skill that bloggers need to learn in the twenty first century in order to see their pages rank well.

Think of these like high quality backlinks that affect the overall rank of your blog and also create a pretty large impact on how your audience perceives your blog.

What exactly is this citation thing anyway?

What are Citations?

Citations can simply be thought of as a means of presenting another website as a link within the body text of your own. The term stems from the academic field where extensive literature reviews usually result in citations that are lengthy and reference a large number of topics on the subject at hand. Similarly, citation in a blog or website references relevant topics so that readers who are interested in these topics can get further information if they so desire. Citations make up the major part of creating backlinks for your site in the modern era of search engine optimization.

Why are Citations Important?

Citations allow for the building of backlinks. The higher the quality of a backlink, the better your page ranks in search results and the more authoritative your own page is in comparison to others on the same topic. Citations are important for two major reasons. Firstly, they allow you to share contact with another, higher-impact blog. If enough traffic comes from your link to their site you may be able to form a suitable link sharing agreement, thereby increasing your traffic. Alternatively, and more importantly, a good backlink foundation allows your website or blog to rank well in relevant search results. The basis of your citations comes from proper use of something called the anchor tag.

What is this “Anchor Tag”?

Basically, it’s an HTML tag that replaces an actual HTML link with actual words. Thus instead of a URL, you can have a short description that, upon being clicked, sends the user to the URL hidden beneath it. Search engines utilize anchor texts to figure out the content of the site you’ve linked to. This means that proper use of anchor tags can affect both your linked-to sites and your own site. The use of the anchor tag represents a particular metric that search engines have taken to tracking termed link relevancy. Link relevancy is determined by what content is on the source page and what the anchor text attached to that source page represents.

Link Relevancy

Search engines cleverly utilize human beings penchant for linking relevant things to figure out exactly what the source page is relevant regarding search terms and keywords. Link relevancy indicators utilize this particular inclination along with complicated natural language processing in order to generate an idea of how relevant the link in question really is. Google’s Penguin update started being more specific in its determination of natural search terms and this allowed the algorithm to determine with a good degree of accuracy when it was dealing with non-organic links by determining if the same anchor text yielded the same link results each time. To this end, links should be made throughout the body of a page with as much variety as possible while still remaining relevant to the source page.

How Does Anchor Text Affect SEO?

As we said before, anchor text allows the building of links that raises the search rank of a page. After understanding search relevancy, we can now form a picture of what our anchor tags should contain to be proper examples of good SEO link building, from Backlinko. Remember that you’re trying to have different anchor texts that lead to your external page in order to create more organic content. To this end, what you should do is to brainstorm possible options that you may have for the creation of alternative anchor texts for your outbound links. It is important that you keep these thoughts in mind when developing your anchor tags:

  • Do NOT create zero-anchor situations such as “Click Here…”
  • Do NOT overuse anchor text. Overuse of anchor text makes a search engine look at your linking suspiciously and may actually hurt your search rank rather than helping it.

5 Types of Anchor Text

Anchor text comes in many types and each type has their own particular use. The most common anchor types that you are likely to encounter during your time building SEO type links are:

  1. Zero Anchor Text: These are the text anchors that simply come with a “Click Here” appended to them via anchor tag. Not recommended at all.
  2. “Naked” URL’s: This also defeats the purpose of the anchor tag as some URL’s are usually made up of non-words and incomprehensible strings of letters. On the off-chance that the link is actually made up of good keywords (as is the case in many links from WordPress blogs), the link might end up helping itself out.
  3. Exact Match Anchor: One of the best anchor tags to use in a localized anchor tag strategy. These give a geographical area and a relevant keyword. In some SEO strategies, they allow for more localized searches which can lead to a much higher conversion rate.
  4. Partial Match Anchor: This depends upon the ability of a search engine indexing bot to determine the relevant location and other information from the surrounding words in order to rank the link. It has the benefit of allowing you to be freer with your anchor text and helps you create more natural outbound links. Highly recommended.
  5. Hybrid Anchor: These are a combination of links that associate different anchor tags with each other allowing for a more targeted strategy, while at the same time giving you the freedom to create links naturally. The links usually relate branded items with non-branded items and are also highly recommended.

The flavor of anchor text that you use can make it more difficult for search engines to rank the link and therefore affect your overall search ranking and how well regarded your site is.

How Can I Generate Authority Links? 7 Key Ways

Authority links in the past (as close as 2013) was a whole different game to what it is today. In fact, if you follow the same link-building strategies that you would have done in 2013 today, it’s likely to hurt more than help. When you’re trying to generate authority links for your site, it’s important that you follow best-practice. There are a few very successful ways to build backlinks that are high quality and help your search engine ranking immensely. A few of these are:

  1. Create a Resource: Developing a resource is as simple as compiling a single location that gives information to visitors. What resource links do is they give other websites a handy place to link to that covers all their needs in a single URL. This makes it attractive to link to this resource site and allows a lot of traffic to come through it through linking and cross-linking. Resource pages are useful and amazingly good at generating high-quality backlinks, and all it takes is a little bit of skill in content curation. Knowing your audience also does a great deal for creating resource pages that are beneficial to them, making it all the more likely that you’ll generate backlinks from that page.
  2. Bridge the Content Gap: One of the hardest things for site owners to do is to catch the attention of their target demographic. It’s what many content producers and marketers spend countless hours trying to figure out. How to attract your audience’s attention is one of the most important things you learn in advertising. Bridging the content gap means reaching out to your audience and grabbing their attention by giving them something that they want but that other content hasn’t managed to satisfy yet. You’re trying to fill the gaps left by other content producers. There are countless opportunities that exist out there that have yet to be explored. All it takes is a little bit of imagination.
  3. Use the Power of Infographics: If you don’t know what an infographic is, you probably haven’t seen new content at all in the last 3 years. Infographics are a unique way of blending text copy and images into a nice, holistic piece of content that catches the eye but doesn’t bore the audience with tedious walls of text. If anything, infographics are the way that all content marketers should seek to converse with their audience. Developing infographics on trending themes is a great way of getting backlinks and sharing what you know at the same time. These text-pictograms have become one of the most effective ways of leveraging an audience’s attention span to your own benefit.
  4. See what the Competition is Doing: Monitoring the places other sites you compete against in your niche are doing is a great way for you to develop an idea of where quality backlinks are to be found. You can start off by studying the types of links your competitors have by doing a system of competitive auditing. From that you can come up with a plan to outperform them. Imitation has always been the sincerest form of flattery and if your opponents have managed to find a workable solution for getting high quality backlinks, then you can follow suit and do what they have done, even improving on their methods immensely.
  5. Capitalizing on Broken Links: Google’s main source of determining how well your site ranks on the Internet is still based heavily on your links. In such a case a broken link could spell disaster for a site’s link-building hopes. Enter broken link building. Essentially, in this type of strategy, you spot a link that leads nowhere and point it out to the webmaster of the site, while at the same time asking for a link where that dead one currently is. It’s a very good strategy for developing a rapport with owners of authority sites. One link from an authority site can generate as much or more traffic than ten mid-range or low-impact sites can. That’s a lot of traffic to spotting a broken link.
  6. Find the Influencers for your Niche and Interview Them: Influencers make up a major part of content marketing strategy. They’re called “influencers” because their opinion usually sways a large portion of a target demographic. One of the reasons that they are such influential people is because a lot of people are interested in them. Interviewing an influencers creates a post based on what you found out about that person and also provides an authority link for others who may want to garner information about or directly link to information that supports one of their article’s points. This is another type of resource site with the same overall effect: a lot of links coming inbound from high-authority sites that raise your overall search ranking.
  7. Content Repurposing: You might have had content that performed well but seems to be a bit dated now. You don’t have to toss it out as old content, but you can refurbish it and republish it as repurposed content. Some of the content you made at a previous date was probably not well received because at that point in time your article wasn’t a relevant piece and the industry’s attention was held elsewhere. Giving it new form and function allows you to resurrect these posts, especially if they become more relevant in the present day. Repurposing content and presenting it in an alternative format (such as on Slideshare) makes for a great draw for social media sharers, since Slideshare is much more suited to a social media platform. Repurposing content in this way can gain you a lot of inbound links through social media shares and external linking.

Keep an Eye on your Citations

After understanding how important citations are, and how they function, you’re in a much better place to deal with citing links correctly and increasing your search rank through dedicated link building. It might seem like a tedious process, and at times it can be, but it’s far more effective at getting your traffic and search rankings up than almost any other method of promotion out there. It works hand in hand with SEO strategies to guarantee that your site finds itself among the top search results for a particular keyword.