Google Places Citations Aren’t The Key to Ranking

Google Places Citations Aren't the Key

This is going to be quite a controversial post I think but bear with me.

For well over 12 months now so many bloggers, Google Places experts have been telling you it’s all about ‘citations’. For those who aren’t yet familiar with citations these are simply links for other websites and directories that mention your business details such as address and telephone number. The thought being the more of these you have the better the authority your places page will be given by the Google gods.

We’ve never used this technique to achieve our guaranteed first page results on Google Places, but for the past 6 months we’ve been doing a lot of testing just to bring this report to you.

There are several decent and reliable citation tools out there you can get your hands on (we’ll post a link to one below)

We’ve got dozens of examples where the top position results in Google Places have less or no citations whatsoever than listings further down the list. Again details of these will be posted soon.

But wait…. Google citations are the key! Aren’t they?

If we apply that idea surely all position A results should have more citations? But by using this great citation tool you can see that if you search for ‘Printers Southend’ that the top result has only 12 citations and if you check the SEOmoz ‘DA’ or ‘Domain Authority’ which Whitespark have kindly included in their software. You see that #1 has less powerful DA citations than position #3.

printers southend citations

Check out the highest DA citations for position 1 below

Now check out the DA citations for position 3

Note: Remember these guys have 83 high quality citations

Compare these citations too, they have no more authority than the others, so why is that listing deemed to be worthy of the top spot?

We can do this all day too. But let’s not put you in a coma just yet.

So what does this tell us about Citations & Google Places?

  1. Are citations useless to successful Google Places optimization and ranking?
  2. Should we be looking elsewhere for our Maps SEO?

With the research done and the evidence in place to back it up I can only speak my own thoughts on this. I don’t believe citations no matter how great the Domain Authority is that this is the key to getting consistently solid Google Places rankings. I’m sure as I suspect most of you do they can play a small part in the overall success.

But it’s like baking a really good chocolate cake, miss out an ingredient or two, ‘an egg’ ‘less sugar’ ‘forget to whisk’ and before you know it you’ve baked a muffin. Sure it’s still technically a cake but just less grand.

Google Places Citations Summarised

In summary I think a lot of the citations hype is there because not everyone in this industry really understands Google Places. Yes there are some great examples of businesses and individuals who are doing a really great job for their clients. But we also know there are a lot of rogues out there, just in it for the quick buck. (Leaving the good guys to pick up the pieces of their tattered, annoyed, dissatisfied customers.)

I’m sure there will be others who will disagree but all I can say to that is we’ve done the research to back our claims up and most importantly we’ve never used this on any of our position A clients.

True or False

We would love to hear your thoughts on this article, do citations work for you?  Or do you not bother at all adding citations as your main SEO source for Google Places optimization.

Thanks to Whitespark for their citation tool on this exercise.

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