A Short Guide to Citation Flow

Acquiring high-quality backlinks is one of the most effective ways to improve your website’s SEO, but how can you determine whether your strategy is having a positive effect? While it’s important to pay attention to a wide range of metrics when assessing your backlink profile, we will be narrowing in on citation flow in this short guide.

Whether you’re new to SEO or are simply looking for new ways to measure your success, your citation flow score could give you a deeper insight into your website’s performance.

What is Citation Flow?

Citation flow helps you to gain a better understanding of a website’s authority, but it specifically focuses on the number of different sites you have backlinks from. Ranked from 0-100, citation flow is just one piece of a much bigger SEO puzzle, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to increase your score. This metric works in synergy with your domain rating and trust flow, helping you to understand what parts of your backlink strategy are working and which ones need fine-tuning.

A citation flow score also helps you to understand how much link equity a website is passing on. This means that it can be a useful tool for researching sites before you place your backlinks on them.

Factors that Affect Citation Flow

Citation flow is primarily affected by how many sites link to your website, but the number of links you have also plays a role. Having links from lots of different websites is likely to increase your citation flow, but your score may be more robust if you have multiple links from some sites. This may not always be possible, or necessary, but having lots of links from one website and only one from all the others can leave your backlink profile looking unbalanced.

Citation Flow vs. Trust Flow

Trust flow is often discussed alongside citation flow – and for good reason. These two flow metrics are key to understanding how well your website’s backlink profile is performing and paying attention to only one or the other can negatively impact your growth.

Where citation flow measures the number of referring domains linking to a website, trust flow measures the quality of your links. This means that together, they provide a well-balanced overview of the types of backlinks you have, which is key if you want search engines to frame your website in a positive light.

Having a high citation flow can be detrimental to your website if your trust flow isn’t keeping up. This is because the quality of your links matters more than how many you have. Having lots of low-quality links pointing towards your pages signals to search engines that your website may also be low quality, thereby reducing your overall domain authority.

So, does that mean trust flow is more important than citation flow? Not necessarily. While it’s important to prioritise trust flow when you start building your website, citation flow needs to be a key consideration if you want to scale your project. The key, as with most things, is balance.

What is Good Citation Flow?

There really is no score you should be aiming for when it comes to citation flow. Instead, what you should be paying closer attention to is your trust-to-citation flow ratio.

In an ideal world, your citation flow increases with your trust flow, but it can be difficult to maintain such a perfect ratio. However, as long as your citation flow is roughly 50% (or more) of your trust flow, your backlink profile should be fairly well-balanced.

Your citation flow should never be higher than your trust flow though. If it is, your link quality may be suffering, which will in turn affect your rankings and domain rating. Always prioritise quality over quantity, even if that means your citation flow increases more slowly.

Gareth Hoyle
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