Google Algorithm: Citations & Directories For Local Search

Citations Boost Local Search

This article aims to enlighten you on the importance of business citations, also known as directories, to improve rankings on Google Maps (local search). We will explore a variety of factors about citations and explain how each directly contributes to better results for your local search ranking on impactful and high-earning keywords. Hopefully, the explanations presented can assist you with ways to bring you more local business and increase conversions, such as telephone calls, appointments, form submissions, etc. 

What is a “Citation” or Directory?

The term “citation” can be very confusing, especially for new digital marketers. However, citations are not as difficult as they may seem.  At Mile High Content, we describe citations in the following:

A citation refers to a business listed on a published resource such as a magazine, website, periodical, etc. 

Sounds confusing, right? In its simplicity, the word “citation” is merely accurate NAP information (name, address, phone number) in a directory. Several citation examples include Yellowpages, Yelp, Bing, Google, Merchant Circle, MapQuest, Apple Maps, etc. Ensuring you have accurate information on numerous directories will help optimize Google’s local search algorithm. Read more to learn why.

Why Citations Help You In Google’s Local Search Algorithm

Citation information consistency helps Google verify you as a local business, thus increasing map and local search results. Here is a screenshot provided by The Hoth on citation consistency.

Google is constantly weeding out fraudulent listings and spam-influenced misinformation. Accurate citation listings guarantee your business is updated and relevant on all major US directories, building trust among Google. Furthermore, by providing Google with precise information, your business is rewarded with high rankings on local search, which are included in Google Maps. Ultimately, accurate NAP information results in greater search accuracy, improving website traffic on Google Maps and SEO, two critical traffic channels

Interestingly, Google includes citation directories in their local search algorithm. It’s unclear to what extent, as they do not publish ranking factors. However, numerous SEO websites publish ranking factors, and citations are always included. For example, MOZ published an article on local search ranking factors in June 2023 that we find relevant at Mile High Content. 

Citation Quality, not Quantity

Should your business have a thousand citations from irrelevant directories or maximize authoritative and relevant citations? The latter is more profound for your local search and SEO. The overall number of directories you are registered to is inconsequential. Instead, focus on building links from industry-specific and high-authority directories, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, Yelp, etc.


You can download MOZ Bar – a free Chrome extension- to determine a website’s domain authority score. A domain authority score is ranked 1 – 100. The higher a website’s score, the more authoritative they are considered, and typically rank higher in search results for keywords. 

Accurate NAP Information

Consistency throughout your citations in online directories is of the utmost importance. NAP is an acronym for name, address, and phone number. NAP consistency is a local search best practice your business should implement across as many industry-specific and authoritative directories as possible. Although it is not included in the acronym, you should ensure your website is accurate. Inaccuracies are frowned upon by Google and hurt your local search. 

Why Does Google Value Accurate NAP Information 

Every day, thousands of spammers attempt to trick Google for financial gain. Spammers set up fake websites, fraudulent Google Business profiles, and spammy links to deceive Google. So, how does Google weed out spammers? Google views data accuracy as the number one tool for reducing and eliminating the harmful effects of spam. Google relies on your help by publishing consistent NAP info to ensure accuracy. 

Displaying to Google that you are who you say you are helps them verify your business. Accurate NAP information helps build trust among Google, and consequently, they want to direct consumers to your business. 


While no one truly knows the intricacies of Google, patterns are apparent in the rankings. It is vital to understand and utilize these rankings to beat competitors on Google Maps. The algorithm is a computer or AI-generated equation used to categorize and evaluate present data. While most of the patterns are not easily discernable, they do occur. 

Like the Stock Market, it is imperative to seek expert help. A high-level professional such as Mile-High Content with years of experience in SEO and local search can be invaluable in expanding your digital footprint. Please contact Mile High Content if you seek an experienced digital marketing agency to help you achieve your revenue goals and grow your business. 

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