The days of people finding a business in the Yellow Pages are pretty much gone. Nowadays people search and if a business has ‘a good website full of the proper content’ consumers will likely find it before they do a local business listing in the Yellow Pages. What’s more, they will NOT only find that website for local ( i.e. Santa Clarita CA Real Estate Agent ), but for many different keyword searches ( i.e. Foreclosure Search Santa Clarita CA ).
Why Use A Directory?
Some directories generate search engine indexing & traffic, so if a business doesn’t have their website together then listing in the right directory may at least support for the most locally specific searches. For instance, a specific keyword plus the town and state ( i.e. Veterinarian Manasquan NJ ). Even with ‘a good website’ some might argue every directory is one more chance for a business to be discovered. Some directories generate traffic; some offer a favorable environment for valuable consumer reviews and others for highly sought after ( = SEO friendly ) back links to a main website.
So, based upon our experience, here’s some support with what directories to look into.
- Google.com = It’s the place where people search everything, including local business. What’s more, Google generates directory listings in their SERPs when the search is local. While Google will likely index your website for its content they also offer their version of a directory in Google + Local Pages. Neat because they are integrated for maps, mobile, circles of friends traditional search and they include Zagat Reviews. Worth mentioning is that if you had a legacy ‘Google Places’ page and/ or a Google + page they are meant to be merged; however, our experience (and also many ‘unhappy others’ we have discovered in the forums) suggests all is not well. It seems that if you direct a client to your Google+ Local page ‘Review button’ their effort may be lost somewhere in the merge. A couple of ours ended up as comments to a blog post??, which is frustrating.
- Yahoo.com = It may not be the premiere place it once was for listings and a highly weighted back link to a website. In fact, Google Webmaster Guidelines no longer recommends “directory submission” to the Open Directory Project and Yahoo; however, Yahoo is ‘the original great directory’ … many people still use it and it’s a good environment for consumer reviews.
- Yelp.com = Yelp is popular … to the tune of about 27 million unique visitors per month. They are especially popular with the smart phone crowd and may be the technology leader for their mobile and Facebook friendly features. Yelp is also a leader for consumer reviews.
- Manta.com = Our personal favorite right now: easy to register and it goes live quick, Manta is terrific! But they go further with a ton of space for information about your business, free image upload, neat daily marketing tips and weekly traffic metrics. The design is great and if it proves to drive even a little traffic to our site it’s certainly a consideration for a paid upgrade.
- AngiesList.com = They want to be the leader for consumer reviews and they are spending big $ on prime time TV Ads’ to do it. Whereas Yelp may lead for a younger demographic, Angie’s List looks to be targeting the mature crowd. Registration is easy enough and while it takes a little time for a registered listing to surface live, there’s a generous offering for business information.
- MerchantCircle.com = Very much like Manta, we like this one for its generous offering. A registered listing surfaces quick, you’re able to load up lots of good information and they follow through with supportive marketing tips.
- SuperPages.com = This is SuperMedia, Verizon’s former yellow pages property. A good free listing, it generates some search indexing (likely for its’ time in the game) and it’s also a good environment for reviews. And let’s face it, having been a part of Verizon is nothing to sneeze at.
- DMOZ.org (The Open Directory project) = Again, Google Webmaster Guidelines no longer recommends “directory submission” the Open Directory Project and Yahoo … making DMOZ, at least, less the back link opportunity it once was; however, this directory is unique in that all listings must be carefully submitted and reviewed before acceptance is possible. Beware: we have submitted carefully a few times over the years and have yet to arrive, making this a big waste of our time to date.
- Foursquare.com = Like Yelp, Foursquare is very mobile friendly including a neat app’ that allows folks to share where they are ‘live’ … or were they were … with friends. The app’ also supports lots of reviews and the site has big traffic; however, this directory is more ‘activity based’ than it is local service oriented. In other words, it’s more suited for restaurants, clubs & entertainment than it is for helping to find a plumber.
- And Some Advice = Seek out local directories where a listing can be added, including a back link. Town, County, Chamber Of Commerce & other Government sites are often relevant sources of local business directory information … in the eyes of humans and search engine algorithms! Highly specific category based directories can be relevant too.
Concerns With Directories
- Some directories will already have the listing in their database while others may require a business to register one and then to go through some form of confirmation process;
- There are so many local business directories the value (in general) may be diluted with ‘people that search';
- There are so many directories that search engines may not value the listing content or back links any longer;
- Many respected SEOs have held a generally dim view of directory back link building for quite awhile now;
- It is hard to know which directories generate any relevant traffic;
- The directory business model is typically to sell upgrades & advertising, potentially leaving a free registered listing in an obscure place;
- It is difficult to know which directory will value the listing content and which will abuse it as an opportunity to redirect visitors to other content;
- A listing registration can take a lot of valuable time AND
- While it helps to qualify them, your clients will have to register personal accounts in order to give you a review … discouraging many.