Google’s AI-powered contextual search engine algorithms have improved to a point where some businesses no longer see the need to list their businesses on web directories. Google’s own Head of Web SPAM John Mueller has stated in the past that business directories “in general” are no longer relevant as a ranking factor.
Yet, veteran internet marketers still see business directories as important in enhancing trust, credibility, exposure, visibility, and to an extent, SEO, particularly local SEO. It all comes down to what kind of directory you opt to list your business on.
You also have to factor in the large number of web users who still rely on business directories or web directories such as FourSquare, eLocal, CityOf, Google My Business, YellowPages, Yelp, WhitePages.com and MerchantCircle among others.
Many of these directories have very high rankings and attract loads of organic traffic, the kind of which your business might be looking for. This ensures that your business can still get plenty of exposure and lots of traffic even if you are unable to attain top rankings for specific search terms. The business directories with your business listings, as well as the relevant business data such as phone number, addresses, product, and service offerings, can still rank well for highly competitive search terms enabling you to beat the competition and gain greater visibility in the search engine results pages.
How Business Directories Help Your SEO Efforts
Local business directories can improve your search engine performance considerably, and it is important to incorporate it as part of your overall business marketing strategy. Add your website to the online business directory as an off-page search engine marketing strategy that has the potential to positively influence your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
The more you put accurate information about your business out there on the web, the more that the search engines will leverage this data to analyze your business and assign you a ranking in the SERPs. The ranking performance will depend on the quality and relevance of the information that you put out.
Search engines index and rank websites by crawling disparate information sources that match the index. If you are providing a more active, consistent, comprehensive and accurate detail about your business, the search engines begin to treat your listings as high-value information. This will result in higher rankings, which has a net positive impact on your business online. Higher rankings mean more eyeballs, more visits, more conversions, more sales, and greater credibility.
Impact on Local Search
Local business listings have the potential to boost your local search strategy. Having high-quality local business listings will improve your rankings, business reputation as well as conversions.
This will work well if you are running a small business that caters to the local community in a niche-focused directory. In local search, your business is searched at a certain level that puts you at a search advantage if you are targeting a particular local ZIP code or even town.
If you are running a business in multiple locations, ensure that you create separate listings for each of those locations. The listing should also be optimized for its unique location or branch. This will enable you to cast your net wide and attract traffic and leads from multiple search phrases and location-focused searches.
Even more important for your local search and organic ranking efforts are the links from the directories to your websites, as well as the mentions of your business name or brand name. These are known as Local Citations. These citations can significantly boost your ranking efforts in both the “local” as well as the broader organic search. They also help with Google My Business Listings. Google My Business is of course, the best business directory on the web at the moment. Adding your business to Google My Business can dramatically improve your visibility, taking you to the first page with little effort. Like in other business directories, you can create separate listings on Google My Business if your business has multiple branches.