Do Citations Without Links Benefit Your Rankings?

Jul 11, 2013 • 8:44 am | comments (27) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

unlinkedA High Rankings Forum thread has a site owner thrilled about receiving a mention in the Wall Street Journal but that mention or citation was not done as a hyperlink in the web page.

This is fairly common when you get mentions or citations from larger newspapers. They either have a policy of not linking out or they are too lazy to hyperlink to the company or source they are using.

The question asked of the site owner was, even though the Wall Street Journal did not link to his/her site, does the mention benefit the site in Google?

Clearly, there will be an indirect benefit. Other reporters, bloggers, etc will pick up the story and end up writing their own story that links to their site. But does the citation or mention in the Wall Street Journal story have a direct benefit to the ranking of that web site?

What do you think? Take my poll:

Forum discussion at High Rankings Forum.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for broken link

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07/11/2013 01:28 pm

Didn't Rand post a video about this theory awhile ago over at Moz?

Ben Thompson

07/11/2013 01:47 pm

Would be interesting to see what Matt cutts has to say about that...


07/11/2013 02:43 pm

I don't think that citations are a big factor in the google algo yet. However I think they will be the next big thing and are going to replace links sooner or later as number one factor. Google is currently trying hard to determine who is what in the world, and with all the data of links, authorship, authority and with more advanced sentiment analysis technology, at some point in the future, they will be able to rank stuff purely on who says what about stuff.


07/11/2013 04:01 pm

I've seen non-linked citations show up in Webmaster Tool backlink reports - Google definitely knows what they are.


07/11/2013 04:48 pm

I think I remember that, didn't it talk about co-occurrence being a factor even when you weren't linked to from the page?


07/11/2013 07:08 pm

I don't think it's a big factor or a factor at all yet. Think about it. Google can barely identify what links are legit and what links are spam. How are they going to start identifying whether a citation is referring to the Spaceship Rocket company or the Rocket Spaceship company?


07/11/2013 07:15 pm

Given that Google pull URLs out of javascript and index them, I think it's likely Google do the same thing for citations which look like URLs but are not linked. I've even seen some of these show up in GWT in the recent links report so IMO it's unlikely Google would report on these if they weren't worth something.


07/11/2013 09:42 pm

Of course, a negative benefit, watch out with Google, everything they listen or hear online about your website can be use it against you, even mentions are spam for them, be careful, be careful!


07/11/2013 09:43 pm

SPAM, that's the only one thing he says.

Jan Dunlop

07/11/2013 09:49 pm

If there was a seo benefit for citations, imagine the spam this would cause in the comments on popular sites?

Jan Dunlop

07/11/2013 09:58 pm

Was it this one?

Sean Murray

07/11/2013 10:52 pm

I have tons of mentions in online trade journals and industry trade publications but they never include a hyperlink. I think Google needs to seriously consider non-linked citations so long as a brand name is clearly unique and identifiable.


07/12/2013 02:25 am

Yes citation in big websites like WSJ or NYTIMES does help in seo ranking in Google directly. If you are cited frequently for a particular topic or industry then Google considers you as an authority for that topic or industry and starts ranking you better for keywords related to those topics.

Stephen Moyers

07/12/2013 07:07 am

As per my point of view citations is definitely going to help you but in indirect way to your site or I can say influence your organic rankings. I am agree with you Joe that How are they going to start identifying whether a citation is referring to the Spaceship Rocket company or the Rocket Spaceship company.. I am really wondering about it.


07/12/2013 08:59 am


Sanket Patel

07/12/2013 12:01 pm

This is something interesting and i think it is helpful for big brands. Without link still co citation matters but in terms of ranking i can not say anything. It is still a major question and how search engine interpret that, we need to see in upcoming days.

John Eva

07/12/2013 12:11 pm

From what I know i would say no, though it should. But who knows when it comes to Google, maybe they do have something in place which will credit the site in someway, thanks to the brand being mentioned on such a big/important site. Though Google seem more set on punishing site owners for doing stuff they don't agree with more than looking at new ways to credit good sites.

Sujit Kumar Lucky

07/12/2013 12:17 pm

not sure about citations direct benefit as link but its natural, people take your brand mention, and connect or search about it, then this referral and search process can improve ranking !

Link Juice

07/12/2013 02:42 pm

Am i missing something? I thought it was common knowledge that google still recognises unlinked URLs and brand mentions since at least 2005 and that in the current 'natural' link building craze co-citations were all the rage Thought I'd read that here... If not, it's well documented on other leading blogs

Christopher Skyi

07/12/2013 03:51 pm

I've seen instances in Google Webmaster tools of links from pages where the URL is NOT a hyperlink. Perhaps they were linked at one time and then unlinked, but it makes sense that the search engines would try to identify unlinked URLs and try to follow them. If so, then Google probably also try to decide how valuable/relevant this 'citation' is.

Matt Morgan

07/12/2013 03:52 pm

Yes, I believe citations, without hyper-linking, will help your rankings. Google wants to establish authorities in each industry. Rand Fishkin explains his take really well in one of his Whiteboard Friday's

Toby Camp

07/13/2013 01:21 am

Pretty sure this has been tested and tested and nothing has been found, last test I remember seeing was on dejan seo's blog. Maybe Dan might pick up his brand mention and come have a say.


07/15/2013 08:29 am

I think it has an impact but how much is the question. Citations from what I know are counted as votes with or without links. Natural citations are probably the best ones to come by and being that it its inderect, others will follow, reshare and help create even more.

Spook SEO

01/26/2014 04:34 am

Barry, thanks for your informative discussion. I'm not really sure if citations that don't have links can actually benefit my rankings.

Alesia Krush

02/18/2014 01:50 pm

In the video you reference, Rand talks about something completely different. He talks about co-citation of unlinked keywords and anchor texts, and how that affects rankings. Other than that, it's a great video.

Matt Morgan

02/18/2014 03:31 pm

Hi Alesia, I'm a bit confused with your response. Isn't that what I said?

Alesia Krush

02/19/2014 08:59 am

In a way, yes. But co-citation isn't the same as citation. This article talks about instances when someone mentions your brand, but gives you no link. While Rand Fishkin's video is about a brand being mentioned in certain contexts, which leads to the brand ranking in search for keywords from those contexts.

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