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The Difference Between a Link and a Citation

what is citation link

I imagine most people are pretty familiar with links at this point. Although for SEO purposes, we’ll often break links up into categories like internal links and external links and inbound links and outbound links. Stay with me here:

Internal Links vs. External Links

Internal links.

An internal link is a hyperlink that points at a page on the same domain that the link exists on. Internal links are helpful for SEO because the anchor text helps search engines understand what the page is about and it also helps establish site architecture.

External Links

An external link is a hyperlink that points at a page that isn’t on the same domain that the link exists on. If you link to a high quality, authoritative site from your domain (we call this outbound linking), it can help improve your authority and perceived relevance to the search engines on whatever subject the linked page covers.

Another plus side to outbound linking? Link reciprocity. Essentially, if someone sees you linking to their site a lot, they are more likely to return the favor.

That’s favorable for SEO because when a high quality, authoritative site links to your domain (we call this inbound linking), it also improves your authority and perceived relevance to search engines like Google. Depending on the anchor text of the link, it might even increase your rankings for certain keywords. These inbound links are also often referred to as backlinks.

With that being said, you want to avoid both linking to and receiving links from low quality, spammy sites. If you link to low quality, spammy websites, it stands to reason that you may become low quality and spammy by association—which is why both Bing and Google have link disavow tools that allow you to request search engines discount links from shady sources. (It’s kind of like the restraining order of the SEO world.)

It’s also important to note that Google frequently penalizes sites with a spammy backlink profile. There are millions of directory websites that have been created for a single purpose: to game the search engine algorithms. In the past, links from these types of sites have helped companies improve their rankings. However, the search engines have become far more adept at identifying such sites and either penalizing them or removing them from their results altogether.

Another way people used to try and acquire backlinks was through guest blog posting. But as recently as January 2014, Google’s head of webspam was quoted saying, “Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done.”

So in the days of the heavy Google penalization hammer, the best way to acquire “good” backlinks, inbound links, or whatever you want to call them is by creating unique, relevant content.

The main difference between links and citations is that citations don’t have to include a hyperlink at all. An online article simply mentioning your company’s name can be considered a citation.

Here’s a better explanation from Whitespark:

“A citation is any mention of your business out on the web, with or without a link. It can come in various forms:

  • Company Name, by itself.
  • Company name & phone number.
  • Company name, phone number, & address.
  • Company name, phone number, address, & link.

“Even just the phone number by itself can be a citation.”

While links are great for improving your rankings, citations are helpful for getting listed in local search results. While there are many ranking factors that appear to contribute to local search, experts agree that citations matter more than links. Just like with links, the quality of the citations matters, as well as the quantity. (Read more about where to get citations for local SEO  and whether Yext PowerListings are worth the investment .)

NAP Citations

One of the most popular types of citations used across the Web is called an NAP citation—which stands for name, address, and phone number. That’s why directories are a good place to start when you’re building citations.

It’s important to note that your citations should be as consistent as possible in order to improve your local search results. For example, you shouldn’t have “Blue Corona” as your company name on one listing and “Blue Corona, Inc.” as your company name on another.

What’s More Important—Links or Citations?

I think you know the answer to this—both are important. If you own a local company, however, I would argue that citations get the edge on this one—particularly citations from local sources. Whether you’re interested in getting more citations or need help writing lots of quality content that will attract external links, we can help. Fill out the form below for a free SEO analysis.

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About The Author: Blue Corona's Editorial Staff is determined to help you increase your leads and sales, optimize your marketing costs, and differentiate your brand by passing on our tribal knowledge. The team vigilantly stays on top of the latest in digital marketing, bringing you the top insights with expert commentary. Want to see something on our blog you haven't seen yet? Shoot us an email and our marketing team will get to work. View more blogs by Blue Corona

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Citations vs Backlinks: What’s the difference?

Citations and backlinks can both benefit your SEO in similar ways but it’s important to be able to differentiate them. Citations are slightly harder to comprehend than backlinks, as you can receive citations in different forms. Check our guide below on how to differentiate the two, and build them into your SEO strategy.   

What’s The Difference Between a Citation and a Backlink? 

The difference between a citation and a backlink is simple, a citation is a direct online mention of your business’s name, address and phone number. Similar to a backlink, citations will benefit your SEO by determining online authority to your business. A backlink, however, is a direct link to your website from a page on another website.  

The Definition of a Citation 

Citations can be tricky, as partial citations are not as beneficial as full citations. An example of a full citation would include your business’s complete name, address and phone number. In  that  particular order. 

For example, a full citation of MRS Digital would be:

MRS Digital, 1 Blue Prior Business Park, Redfields Lane, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU52 0RJ, 01252 622722. 

An example of a partial citation would be a reference to your name and address, but not your phone number. This wouldn’t be as beneficial to your SEO as a full citation, it would be considered as a partial citation. For a citation to benefit your SEO strategy it is very important that it matches the name, address and phone number you have on your Google My Business listing and on your website.  

The most important thing to consider when building citations is the format in which you choose to display your name, address and phone number on your GMB listing and on your website and sticking to it. Being consistent with the way you display your name, address and phone number is crucial when building citations as they need to match. 

SEO Benefits of Citations  

Citations are considered a ranking factor for local SEO. Having your business listed on trusted websites and online directories demonstrates to Google that they should improve their level of certainty that your business exists, this will therefore mean you will have more visibility online and will improve local rankings, meaning more traffic and sales. 

Examples of Local Citations for SEO 

Citations can occur on local business directories and social platforms, to help your local search engine rankings, ensure your business is mentioned in as many relevant business directories as possible. To start off, the follow directories are recommended for the UK:  

  • https://www.192.com/  
  • https://www.business-directory-uk.co.uk/  
  • https://www.uk-businesses.co.uk/  

Ensuring your business is featured in directories is a good place to start. To find where your competitors have been mentioned locally, you can do this by searching the following:  “Competitor’s Business Name” AND “Competitor’s Postcode” – site:competitorswebsite.co.uk . It’s essential that you use quotation marks and the AND to capture citations and not just brand mentions. The last part of this query will exclude results from your competitor’s own website.  

After searching this, look through the first pages of results and take note of all the businesses that have referred to them and not you, note down the ones to get in contact with, that way you can build up your local citations.  

The Definition of a Backlink  

A backlink is a hyperlink created that links one website to another. Backlinks can also be called “inbound links” or “incoming links”. Receiving backlinks is an essential part of SEO, they help search bots to crawl your site and rank it correctly on its content.  

SEO Benefits of Backlinks  

Backlinks are particularly valuable to SEO because they indicate trust towards your website. In theory, the more backlinks you have, the more you’re trusted by the search engine. For example, if multiple sites link to the same webpage or website, this tells search engines that this is content worth linking to, which could then have a positive effect on a site’s ranking position or visibility when searched.  

The main things that affect the value of a link are:  

  • Site authority 
  • Visitorship 
  • Relevance 
  • Where the link is placed 
  • No follow vs do follow (authority is page authority and domain authority) 
  • Where the link is pointing to 
  • Location 
  • Anchor text 

How to Start Link Building  

Link building is the process of gaining hyperlinks from other websites to your own over a period of time. As search engines like Google use links to crawl the web; they will crawl all of these links which will benefit you over time, depending how many you have and who they’re from. There are many different techniques used to build links, including building relationships, writing guest blogs or even just asking for them.  

  630855797 scaled 1 650x460 1

What About Brand Mentions? 

Brand mentions can be extremely powerful for SEO, but can often be mixed up with citations. Mentions are much easier to get than links and citations and will likely pay off equally as well. As well as your backlink checker, you need to ensure you’re monitoring your brand mentions too. Three ways of growing your brand mentions can be: 

  • Encouraging customer reviews 
  • Influencer marketing (in the form of blogs, YouTube) 
  • Maintaining good customer care 

To ensure monitoring and gaining your citations, backlinks and brand mentions is a core part of your SEO strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experts  at MRS  for further guidance in all aspects of digital marketing. 

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  • Link Building Guide

A Guide to Local Citation Building

Here's how citation building can help with link building and site visibility – and how to get started building your local citations.

When was the last time you performed a local online search?

When you want to find a product or service in your area, do you dust off the ol’ phone book, or do you turn to your favorite search engine?

Think about it: Say you live in Seattle, and you need to take your dog to the groomer, make dinner plans with your friends, and check movie listings.

Oh, and you have got to take your coat to the dry cleaner.

Will you search for:

A) dog groomers B) Mexican restaurants C) movie listings D) dry cleaners in Seattle Ballard

I hope you chose option D.

According to a Google consumer study , “4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.”

If you’re like 80% of the rest of the world, you’re probably looking for local information online, too.

A Guide to Local Citation Building

Turn the tables, now.

You’re a business owner – for this example, let’s say you own a dry cleaning business.

Your business has an address, a phone number, an email address, and even a blog where you share tips and tricks for taking better care of clothes. Go you!

You offer a valuable service that you know everyone needs. You’ve done some on-page optimization to help get your website discovered.

You’re doing everything right!

But for some reason, the customers are barely trickling in.

How can you fix that?

What are Local Citations?

Local citations are online mentions of your company – linked or unlinked – which include your business address, contact information, and in some cases, your website.

An example of this is a business listing on Yelp.

Take a moment to search “dry cleaners in Seattle Ballard,” and note the top organic result.

Spoiler: It’s probably Yelp.

A Guide to Local Citation Building

Citations can be incredibly beneficial to local businesses, particularly for local SEO.

Types of Citations

There are two types of citations: structured and unstructured.

Structured citations are like what you’d find in a local business directory. You have control over these citations. You can submit your business details, and update the information when necessary.

Some examples of structured citations can be found on:

  • Yellowpages
  • Maps (Google, Apple, MapQuest, etc.)

Here’s an example of a structured citation on Yelp:

A Guide to Local Citation Building

Here’s an example of an unstructured citation on a local news site:

A Guide to Local Citation Building

3 Ways Local Citations Can Help with Link Building and Site Visibility

1. improve local seo rankings.

Local citations have a massive impact on your local SEO efforts and on whether your company will show up in the SERPs.

Local SEO and citations help search engines verify your business’s information.

They’re two of the ways search engines keep tabs on your site’s authority and prominence, so the more often your company’s info appears online, the more prominent your site appears to search engines.

2. Increase Site Traffic

An improved local SEO ranking means increased visibility in local search results, and more visibility in search results means increased site traffic.

Even unlinked citations can drive traffic and improve local presence, but they also provide an opportunity for claiming new links and building your link portfolio.

3. Impact Customers

Local citations help your company establish trust with search engines and with customers .

If you have multiple websites, especially high-authority, trusted websites that are citing the same information about your business, it tells search engines and your customers that your site and your business can be trusted.

How to Build Local Citations

Whitespark’s curated list of citation sources by country is a great starting point.

Just work your way through their list to manually build your citations.

Whitespark also offers a helpful Local Citation Finder tool, which offers plans for every business — from Starter (free) to Enterprise ($80/mo).

A Guide to Local Citation Building

  • Data Aggregators

According to Advice Local , “data aggregators are data mining systems that spread business information online. They collect and share business data with a multitude of sources, including search engines like Google.”

In other words, data aggregators gather information on businesses and then feed that information to other sites.

Some popular data aggregators are:

  • Local Directories

Google’s consumer study says that “local searchers are ready to act. Many visit a nearby location within a day and complete purchases at a higher rate than consumers who conduct non-local searches.”

This is why it’s so important for you to get your business listed in local online directories .

Some directories will generate their listings based on information received from data aggregators.

Check your local directories to see if a listing already exists for your company, and make sure the information is accurate.

You can also submit new listings if one doesn’t yet exist for your business.

A Guide to Local Citation Building

  • Review Sites

Review sites can be valuable sources for citations. Check review sites for existing information on your company, and ensure that your business information is accurate, including the address, contact information, and website.

Customer reviews are a ranking factor that search engines take into account when examining for site authority.

Some examples of customer review sites are:

  • Influenster
  • ConsumerReports

Social Media

Having a social media account for your business not only boosts customer engagement, but it also provides an opportunity for citations. Former Googler Matt Cutts said:

“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index, and so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results.”

So get a couple of social media accounts set up for your business, and make sure your address, phone number, email address, and website are correct.

Staying Consistent

Keep important information consistent across citations. Make sure your listings have the correct business name, contact information, and website.

However, keep in mind that small differences here and there are nothing to fuss over. For example, search engines will recognize “Search Engine Journal” and “search engine journal” as the same name.

As Whitespark states it, “put a little trust in the algorithm.”

Develop Your Local Citation Profile

Still not convinced?

Consider this: Google’s consumer study found that 18% of local smartphone searches led to a purchase within one day. One day!

Developing a strong citation profile for your business is one of the most practical and cost-effective ways to optimize your local SEO.

Implement citation building as a part of your digital marketing strategy.

Timeframe: Month 1-3

Results detected: 4-12 months

Avg citations per month: 6

  • Struction Citation Sources
  • Unstructured Citation Sources
  • Social Media Accounts

Benefits of local citations:

  • Improve local SEO rankings.
  • Increase site traffic.
  • Impact customers and establish trust.
  • Cost-effective.

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Link Building for SEO: A Complete Guide

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Backlinks & Citations - What's the difference?

Helen Nicholls

Links! How to we get them and what they mean to you.

What is a Backlink?

Moz - "Backlinks , also called "inbound links" or "incoming links," are created when one website links to another. The link to an external website is called a backlink."

Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they represent a "vote of confidence" to Google and other Search Engines. They're a signal to search engines that others vouch for the content and in some way, the business identity. If there are a large number of sites that link to the same webpage or website, search engines see this as a site worth linking to, and therefore tend to push this site up in the Search Engine Results Pages  ( 'SERP's' for short ). So, earning these backlinks can have a positive effect on a site's ranking position and search visibility.

However, building backlinks has been scrutinised more recently by Google as it has seen Link Schemes growing across the net. Regulations are now much stricter than ever before and we regularly see penalties from Google to websites that have neglected Google's policies and recommendations.

HubDo's policy for building traditional and high-quality backlinks is to build relationships first. Then work on obtaining a backlink, or links in general e.g. 'one way' and 'reciprocal links', through business connections and work-related relationships. Guest Blogging for a partner or associate's website is a great way to build relationships and earn good-quality links.

Citation Listings

A citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number ( NAP ) of a business. Citations occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms. These listings help web users to discover businesses and can also impact local search engine rankings via the Local Set of Google Maps listings.

Many Citation sites such as Yext, Yellow Pages, Foursquare, HotFrog, Truelocal etc offer a free listing to all businesses. Those businesses with a physical location, e.g. shop front or office, find these listings offer excellent referral traffic to their own websites as well as foot traffic through the door.

Although some of these citation listings will often outdo the business's own website listing in the SERPs many sites do not offer a typical link to the website. They block Google from referring to the link using a piece of code known as a 'rel=nofollow' tag - put simply, this tag is telling Google not to follow the link and refer any SEO quality. Hence any links with a 'rel=nofollow' tag may not appear in the client's Search Console account as a 'Link to your Site' or SEO tracking tools.

How Does Google Handle These Tags?

Support: "in general, we don't follow them. this means that google does not transfer pagerank or anchor text across these links. essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web. however, the target pages may still appear in our index if other sites link to them without using nofollow , or if the urls are submitted to google in a sitemap. also, it's important to note that other search engines may handle nofollow in slightly different ways.".

Double Check Your NAP & URL in Citation Listings

It's easy to double-check each of your listings via each citation site. If you're using an SEO service ask them for a list of the active citation sites. Then ensure you've added the correct NAP and full URL of your website to the listing. Adding the wrong version of the domain URL such as the HTTP vs HTTPS or www vs non-www link will break the value of the listing and may even send the visitor to a 404 page! Double-check each of your listings by clicking through to your website from each business site.

Learn more about changes to your URLs and information about our latest HubSpot plugins via our Knowledge base :

 301 Redirects .

Article Topics: SEO

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What’s the Difference Between a Citation and a Backlink?

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The Ultimate SEO Checklist for Medical Practices

SEO for medical practices is a little different than a normal business.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a necessary process to improve your website’s visibility on search engine pages. For example, when people search for your company’s name in Google, you would ideally like your website to come up on the first search page. With the right SEO tactics, you can reach this goal. In this article, we will be discussing citations and backlinks, which can both benefit your SEO in many ways.

What is a Citation?

A citation is a mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on another website. Google views this information as a sign of proof that you are a legitimate business that is located at the address listed on your Google My Business (GMB) profile.

Citations can either be partial or full, and partial citations are not as beneficial. While a full citation would include your business’s name, address, and phone number in that order, a partial citation may only refer to your name and address, but not your phone number. In order for a citation to really benefit your SEO strategy, it should exactly match the information listed on your GMB account. Staying consistent in the way you spell and present your information is vital for success.

What is a Backlink?

Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are hyperlinks from one website to another. When it comes to SEO, backlinks are important because they demonstrate to search engines that your website is a source of informative and trustworthy content. The more backlinks you have, the more a search engine will trust your website as authoritative and will tend to push your site up in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs), improving your site’s search visibility.

How Do You Gain Citations and Backlinks?

So, now that you understand what a citation and backlink are, you’re probably wondering “How do I get them?” Well, there are a variety of methods that you can use, some of which we will discuss below.

Increasing Local Search Citations

The first step you should take is to fully fill out your GMB page, which is essential when it comes to citations. Another great way to begin is to learn from your competitors. Search keywords or phrases that you would like to rank for, and then pay attention to the companies that rank in the top spots for those searches. Doing a search of each of these companies and noting the directories and citations they have can give you a starting point for working on getting your business cited on those directories. There is an array of platforms available today where you can list your local business, including Apple Maps, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Yelp, just to name a few. You can also find opportunities for citations on local sites that may want to promote local businesses.

Building Backlinks

While there are many methods that we could cover, one popular and effective way to build backlinks is through guest blogging. Publishing content on other trustworthy websites is a great way to gain more exposure. Promoting your content is also a great tactic. Taking the time to contact websites and bloggers may be time-consuming, but it can pay off in the long run.

Contact Us Today

While gaining citations and backlinks may seem very time-consuming, it is well worth it once your website begins ranking higher on SERPs. At DLM, our team of SEO experts will put in the time to help increase your business visibility on popular search engines. Contact us today to learn more!

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What’s the difference between a link and a citation?

Home / What’s the difference between a link and a citation?

When you look at SEO today, both links and citations are an important part of the larger SEO puzzle. Generally speaking, the more quality links you have the better ranking position in global search engine result pages your website may acquire. As for citations, they have more influence on local search results. When implemented together, they can increase your site visibility and improve the ranking for given keywords. However, it’s important to know the difference between a link and a citation and how they work .

The difference between a link and a citation

For years, links were one of the most important elements in every SEO. But, as search engines and SEO are always changing , so is the importance of certain elements over time. Since Google has been focusing on local searches, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses, other elements are taking over their fair share of influence. This is when citations come into focus. Even though a link and a citation have a similar purpose, like boosting your overall SEO, they function differently and have different forms .

The effects of links and citations

When Google, for example, needs to decide how to rank a website, it uses both links and citations as one of the primary factors. For global searches, the number and quality of backlinks can improve your ranking positions. But, if you need to target the local area, they won’t do much without the smart use of citations . When joined together, they provide effective ways for people to discover your website and your business.

Diagram of business planning with different aspects to consider.

Additionally, they give you the means to stand out among other competitors. This is not an easy job, however. For example, if your competitor has at least 40 quality links and about the same amount of citations, you need to match and surpass it. But not only in quantity. The quality plays a great deal here. Fortunately, you can get SEO professionals such as AZ Citation Services to help you build a healthy link and citation profile and maintain it.

What is a link?

In simple words, links are pieces of HTML code implemented in your website elements that connect two points:

<a href=”https://websiteexample.com”>text of this link</a>

It can be pages on two different websites, but these hyperlinks also connect pages within the same website. In most cases, you can place them in three basic categories:

  • Internal links – Internal links connect pages or points within your website. Besides the obvious, it helps search engines crawl your website more efficiently. And, keeps your visitors engaged in different content on your website.
  • External links – External links are outgoing links that point to places outside your website. Connecting your website to useful and relevant content on other websites can increase your credibility.
  • Backlinks – Backlinks are the incoming links from other websites to content on your website. They are highly important because they help you build your authority. And, same as external links, they share certain value between websites.

There are other sub-categories like text links, image links, and similar, but these three are the most fundamental types of links, in general.

The example of a link: You can find plenty of general information about SEO on Wikipedia .

The world map with the connection network.

What is a citation?

Also known as Citation Listings, is any mention of your business online . In most cases, citations contain information about the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of your business. The most common place where you can find these mentions are:

  • Google My Business
  • Local business directories
  • Free online directories like Yext, Yellow pages, Foursquare, etc.
  • Social Media
  • Government and other types of listings

The most valuable function of citations is that they improve the visibility of your business on a local level. But, in a way, they may also affect your global SERPs. In simple words, they help people discover your business and help you rank on local search results. For any business with a physical location, citations are “a must”. Especially if your customers need to visit you. In addition, citations can contain links, like a link to your website.

Citation example: SEOprocomp, 16 River Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 312-555-5555

SEOprocomp 16 River Drive Chicago Illinois 312-555-5555

A woman is navigating through local search results and maps.

The main difference between a link and a citation

  • Even though they are both good online references, citations are significantly important for local businesses .
  • Links appear on both your and other websites, while citations are citations only when they appear on other places. On your website, they are nothing more than basic business information.
  • Citations include NAP information that needs to be consistent and accurate in every listing.
  • Links can show everywhere and lean on the versatility of keyword usage.
  • Citations can include a link to your website.
  • Anchor text in links can include part of NAP.
  • Links need to be “clickable” by users, while citations don’t have to. Except, when they include the website address.
  • Links are important for both businesses with and without a physical location , while citations focus on those with a physical location.
  • Citations are imperative for local SEO and slightly influence global search. On the other side, links are equally good for both but slightly lean on overall SEO.

When wondering what is more important, the best answer is that they are both important. Even though citations are necessary for the local business, they will not be so successful without links. They are mutually dependent and give the best results if utilized equally. In addition, you can say that Google favors a diverse and natural link profile. But it also focuses on accurate citations for localized results. Given these points, you should understand the difference between a link and a citation because they are both crucial parts of any serious SEO campaign . And combining them with relevant and quality content, Social Media, and other aspects of marketing will definitely be a sure way to success.

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The Power of Links for Citation

what is citation link

Citation standards vary wildly depending on the type of work, where that work is being presented and the expectation of the work’s audience. These standards impact both when citation is needed and how it is given. 

For example, a scientific researcher writing a journal article follows a different protocol than a lawyer filing a lawsuit. They are both very different from a fiction author, who is also different from a non-fiction author. Furthermore, all of those are different from a film producer or a person giving an informal speech.

We see this online as well. Facebook , for example, has a different citation standard than Twitter . In fact, the citation standards even came about in different ways, with Facebook enforcing one from the top down where Twitter simply codified organic user behavior.

However, for much of the internet, attribution and citation takes a very simple form: The humble hyperlink (or simply link). 

In many ways, links are the perfect way to handle citation on the internet. They are simple to use, provide easy access to the source material, and encourage readers to follow the trail that the author took. It’s an experience no other citation format can give. 

However, they are also an imperfect tool. They provide limited information and are prone to erosion over time. As such, it’s one of the few citation standards that decays.

Still, links are an incredibly powerful way to provide citation and attribution. To see why, we have to look at the history and the current use of links.

A Brief History of the Hyperlink

Depending on how you define it, hyperlinks, or more appropriately, hypertext, is an idea that’s been around for as long as there’s been information to sort. People have always sought an easy way to get from one piece of information to the next.

However, in 1945, engineer Vannevar Bush penned an essay entitled As We May Think . In the essay, he explained the concept of a machine known as a Memex, which would link various microfilms to one another and allow the creation of “trails” and a “collective memory.”

That essay would inspire inventors such as Ted Nelson and Douglas Engelbart , who created offline technologies with hyperlinks in the 1960s. These pre-internet applications then had an influence Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web while working at CERN and made hypertext a core component of it as far back as 1990.

In 1991, the Gopher protocol became the first publicly available standard to use hyperlinks and, when the Mosaic browser was released in 1993, HTML, which also featured the use of hypertext, became the de facto standard for creating web pages .

Since then, despite all the changes that the web has gone through, the hyperlink has remained essential for building websites, navigating the web and, ultimately, providing attribution.

The Good and the Bad of the Hyperlink

As a citation standard, links bring plenty of positives to the table. 

They are easy to implement and add, since they are core to the internet, both humans and machines understand them easily, and they take readers directly to the source in question.

In short, anyone can easily provide a link and rest assured that their readers will be able to understand that it is a link, how to use it and that their device will be able to parse it.

Links are also used by Google and other search engines to determine the authority of a particular page. The more links that point to a particular article, the higher it is likely to rank. This means that links are a citation standard that actively helps the person being cited receive more authority, much like how citation in journal articles helps other researchers increase their impact . 

However, with those benefits come some significant drawbacks. The most obvious is how little information a link provides.

With a link, all the reader gets is a URL. Clicking through to that URL should give them the other information they need, including name, date, etc. but that information is rarely in the work that provided the link. If it is, it’s usually included in an informal text citation such as, “As John Doe at The New York Times said…” 

That lack of information wouldn’t be very problematic if it weren’t for the fact that links often erode. Though most articles have all working links when they are published, as time passes, sites close, others rearrange their structure and some simply remove or change pages.

Though users can try running the URL through an archiving service, such as the Wayback Machine , those systems are not perfect and it is not uncommon for pages to simply become unavailable.

To be clear, this is an issue for all citation standards. However, the lack of other information makes the problem much worse for the hyperlink.

But those drawbacks have not slowed down the use of the hyperlink. It’s remained the de facto standard for attribution on the internet, with many upset if they are cited without one.

That is unlikely to change any time in the near future.

Bottom Line

The idea of hypertext and hyperlinks is likely ancient. It’s a concept that predates the internet, became a core part of the nascent internet, and has remained one today.

Though links have serious drawbacks, those issues are more than balanced by their simplicity and direct access. A researcher in the early 20th century would have likely loved a way to immediately access the book or document a work is citing without having to go searching. 

The hyperlink gives us exactly that: A direct connection between document and source.

However, using them is still something of a challenge. There are norms about when, where and how one should use links when writing online. 

In a future article, we’re going to examine those standards and offer suggestions both to improve the usefulness of links and also minimize their drawbacks.

In the meantime, it’s worth taking a moment to admire the simple hyperlink. It’s a basic idea that has revolutionized how we gather information and how we cite the information we use. 

It’s an imperfect tool that is perfect for the internet. 

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What is Citation Building?

screenshots of company listings on google maps

For local businesses, citation building is an important tool in your SEO toolbox, but it’s one that frequently gets overlooked. Citation building can help improve your search ranking in local searches, an asset for companies who get their business locally.

But what is citation building?

Simply put, citation building is a process of accruing mentions of your business across the web on websites and local directories. Having such citations on relevant or reputable websites will boost your credibility with Google and increase your search ranking. All of this comes together to expand your digital footprint.

Trust the process.

Citation building is similar to link building in that it takes a sustained effort to build up quality citations. And, like link building, the connections one makes in networking and partnering with other sites in the process is just as valuable as the citation itself.

Be consistent and correct.

When developing citations, double-check that all have consistent, correct information. Individuals updating their websites with your information may get the name of your business, your phone number or your address wrong, which will lead to incorrect—and thus, wasted—citations. You won’t be the source of all of your citations, but you can still monitor them and make sure everything’s correct and up-to-date.

Plenty of options.

There are a lot of different options when it comes to citation building. When you do it by hand, it’s a good idea to keep track of all the directories you are and would like to be listed on so you can check and correct any misinformation and submit your business’s information to new directories. Directories such as the Yellow Pages or Yelp are good places to start, and you can check with your local chamber of commerce, as many of them host directories of their own.

There are countless directories a business can work with in trying to build a solid network of citations, which is why it’s such a daunting process but also such a huge asset in boosting search rankings. By putting your business out there, you’re giving it a better chance for success. Leadhub is a big fan of BrightLocal to help with citation management. And, if you’re a big company with multiple locations, Yext may be a good option for you (as much as we hate to admit it). Good luck!

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