Google’s John Mueller was asked if “unlinked brand citations can help in defining trust of a website / brand?” In short, when someone says the Wall Street Journal said X, but does not link to the Wall Street Journal (see what I did there WSJ, who rarely links to those it cites), is Google able to pick up on that and assign some credit to the WSJ even though there is no link.
John Mueller said on Twitter “The short version is “usually not, imo”.” I am not sure who he is quoting but he did quote “usually not, imo.”
He then added “The long version is somewhat hard to squeeze into tweet form, and I’m not in the mood to write a long essay, so hopefully the short version is useful as a starting point.”
The short version is “usually not, imo”. The long version is somewhat hard to squeeze into tweet form, and I’m not in the mood to write a long essay, so hopefully the short version is useful as a starting point 🙂
— ? John ? (@JohnMu) May 21, 2020
He then hinted that maybe SEOs can test it. But in this case, if SEOs test it and say something, it doesn’t mean it is true. Even if Google says it is not true after SEOs say tests show it is true, no one knows what to believe. So Google can say yes here, unlinked citations do help and some SEOs would believe it and some wouldn’t. So I guess John figures, why bother?
Back in 2016, Google did say that maybe one day, Google might count unlinked citations. Back then I guess Google did not? Today? Who knows. Google did say in 2013 that Google does not use unlinked citations for rankings but they do and can use it for discovery (and this was tested actually). My 2013 poll on this showed SEOs had no clue if unlinked citations count or not.
In short, I guess John is saying that no, they do not help directly with rankings but if we know it helps with discovery, that is the first step before ranking.
What do you all think on this topic? Go wild in the comments area – it will be fun.
Forum discussion at Twitter.