If you’re in local SEO, you’re likely very familiar with local citations and business directory listings, among other local SEO solutions.
In case you’re not up-to-speed, citations are basically directory listings that include the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of local businesses. Some primary examples of citations are: Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local, Yelp, etc.
Citations are the foundation for climbing up rankings in the Map Pack (now known as the 3-Pack or Snack Pack). The more times that Google can match your Google My Business NAP with directory citations, the more you’ll see yourself climbing up the map rankings.
But what does this have to do with affiliate SEO? Most SEOs don’t try to rank their affiliate websites locally or in Google Maps. No one searches for “garcinia cambogia chicago” nor do they look for the closest location they can “get rid of acne before prom.”
Although you might have no incentive for ranking your affiliate site locally, here are 6 compelling reasons why you should consider adding citations to your backlink blueprint.
6 Reasons to Send Citations to Your Affiliate Money Site
1. Pillow Anchors
Pillow anchors are links that cover your non-critical, yet essential anchors that make your backlink profile look natural. I’m referring to brand, URL, topic and miscellaneous anchors (read more about choosing anchor text properly).
Most SEOs prefer to send their target anchors using high-quality PBNs, while sending their pillow anchors from cheaper low-power sources, such as press releases, web 2.0s, blog comments, and now… citations.
Citations will typically get you either a URL anchor or an image link. Both are great for anchor diversity.
2. Link Source Diversity
Many people argue that in order for a link profile to look natural, links should come from a variety of different sources, such as PBNs, Web 2.0’s, forums, comments, etc. I don’t completely agree, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to diversify your link sources, as long as you’re diversifying with links that real websites and real businesses use (more on this in a later article).
Business directory citations are a great example of a common link source that a real business would use. Blog comments, forum profiles… not so much. However, citations are 100% natural links utilized by real businesses every day.
3. Branding and Trust
One of the main problems that affiliate SEOs face is establishing trust with Google. To deal with this, we typically do everything we can to disguise the affiliate aspect of our sites (such as cloaking affiliate links).
By creating citations for a money site, we attempt to show that this website has a physical office location and is thus a real business. This is just one extra trust-generating step that can set you apart from your competitors.
4. Establishing Local Relevance
If your goal is to rank in a specific country, then you’re probably making efforts to establish local relevance by getting a country-specific TLD and telling Webmaster Tools that your website targets that country.
Take it a step further and get citations from that country to further establish that your website is relevant in that locale.
I’m ranking in Australia, India, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Brazil. Each and every time I’ve sent country-specific citations to a website, it’s gone up in rankings.
Here’s a great case study of me sending citations to a Spanish site in order to establish local relevance.
This affiliate site in the weight loss niche ranks in Chile, Peru, and Mexico. On April 21 I sent Chilean citations to the site. Watch the rankings in google.cl start to pull in the lead, despite being the most competitive country for the search.
5. Link Velocity
The rate at which you gain or lose links is a ranking factor. If you’re gaining links, then you’ll see a positive increase in rankings. If you’re losing links, it’s seen as a negative ranking factor and will affect your rankings aversely.
So what’s the solution? Add more links. But it’s not that simple. Send too many links without the social signals and traffic to justify it, and you’ll find yourself slapped back to page 10.
There are a few link types that can get away with high link velocity and citations are one of them. Google knows that real businesses will go out and create their own directory listings and most likely in batches. Therefore, it’s no problem if you go out and create 15-20 citations in a single day.
This additional worry-free increase in link velocity is one of the major bonuses for using citations.
Last but not least, one of the best things about citations is that they’re cheap. You can go out and spend an afternoon making them yourself for free, or simply outsource them for less than $20.
How to Create Citations for Affiliate Websites
Here’s the step-by-step process on how I create these citations.
1) Create a Fake Business Address
Find the address of a commercial business office in the city you’d like to setup your fake business at.
Choose a Suite number that isn’t already registered with Google My Business.
For this example, I’ll use:
2515 Camino Del Rio S Suite 311
San Diego, CA 92108
2) Add Your Address to Your Website and Social Profiles
First, add your fake address and a fake phone number to the Contact Page of your money site.
Next, you’ll be adding Schema markup code to the footer.php of your website. The markup will include this same exact fake address and phone number. For more details on this, download my free Onsite SEO Guide from the sidebar of my blog.
Lastly, go to each of your Social Fortress properties and add the address where applicable. This includes your Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Bonus Points: For added trust, you can take the steps of getting Google My Business (GMB) verified. I’ve done this a few times for affiliate sites and haven’t noticed much difference, but if you’re a completionist like I am, go for it.
3) Order Citations from Authority Builders
As mentioned before, you can create citations yourself for free, or simply use Authority Builders Citation service. I always go with the 15-citation (non-boosted) package (use coupon “DIGGITY10” for 10% off). Turnaround time is roughly 2-3 days for delivery.
Be sure to use the exact address and phone number from Step 1.
4) Index the Citations
The only thing frustrating about this whole endeavor is that citations are a royal pain-in-the-ass to index. You’ve got to hit them with the kitchen sink.
Here are the steps that I take to get them indexed.
Now comes the fun part: Wait for the results.
Here are results from three live, money-generating affiliate sites.
Case 1: Medium Competition – Health Niche – Foreign SEO – 38% Improvement
Case 2: Low Competition – Beauty Niche – US SEO – 29% Improvement
Case 3: High Competition – Health Niche – US SEO – 0% Improvement
2 out of 3 of these testcases experienced significant gains while one of them (the high competition, high search volume testcase) was pretty flat. While we don’t have enough data to conclude what was the cause of not seeing gains in testcase #3, we can certainly say that it didn’t hurt. And for $20, it’s definitely worth trying.
I’m interested in hearing more about your results with this tactic. Give it a shot, come back and please share your results below.