Structured and Unstructured Citations

Local SEO

If you want your law firm website to appear at the top of Google organic search results for important keywords, then local SEO should be at the top of your marketing task list. Local citations are an integral part of local SEO, because the more relevant websites that link to yours, the better your website will rank. This is because having a decent number of citations tells search engines your law firm is real and it’s trusted. So what are citations?

What Is A Citation?

A citation is a mention of your law firm on another website. The mention does not have to contain a clickable backlink to your website to count as a citation, but having the clickable link makes it more valuable. A proper citation includes your business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP). There are two main forms of citations: structured and unstructured. While structured citations are a requirement for all local businesses, unstructured citations can provide a serious competitive advantage.

Structured Citations

Structured citations are mentions of your law firm on business directories that hold details of many businesses in your office’s geographic area. There are general business directories and then each industry will have its own industry-specific citation opportunities. Directory citations may also contain logos, photos, website link, hours of operation, services description, videos, category of business, reviews, and more.

Examples of General Business Structured Citation Sites:

  • Acxiom
  • Apple Maps
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Bing
  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Google My Business
  • Manta
  • Superpages
  • Yahoo! Local
  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp

Examples of Legal Industry-Specific Structured Citation Sites:

  • Avvo
  • Best Lawyers
  • FindLaw
  • Justia
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • State Bar of Texas (or any state in which you are licensed)
  • Super Lawyers

Unstructured Citations

Unstructured citations are mentions of your law firm on other, third-party, external websites, blogs, and other digital locations. For example, when platforms like online news reference a local business’ complete or partial contact information, that’s called an unstructured citation. The best unstructured citations include links, of course; and some even argue citations must contain a link to qualify as a citation.

NAP Consistency

Citations are like a vote of trust for a business, and as such the accuracy of the details in those citations makes a huge difference. This is where NAP comes in. NAP stands for Name. Address. Phone number. When your business has different details on different business directories, it will confuse search engines. When NAP is consistent, this enables search engines to confirm your law firm is a single entity. Consistency is paramount!

Local SEO For Lawyers

So you can get an idea of just how important they are, some marketing folks say “citations are the new backlinks.” Building citations is not the same process for every business. And, in order to rank organically, your law firm has to do a lot more than obtain and maintain citations. But, while you’ll still need to focus on several other local ranking factors to get ahead, citations should be a major part of your overall Local SEO strategy. If you want to be seen in local searches online, you need to maximize your Local SEO with business citations, and we can help.


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