Depending on how it is set up, local directory submission can either help or hinder your local SEO. Here are the facts.
Local SEO is about establishing visibility for local businesses in the Google Map Pack and the top three organic searches. These are usually located below the Map Pack and paid Google ads.
Like all SEO, many factors influence which businesses receive top billing and the highly sought-after organic search traffic.
Local SEO is based on relevancy, authority, and local presence.
Also, it is common sense that local businesses must prove themselves to search engines.
- They are physically close to their customers.
- They offer products or services that fall within specific categories.
- They are a trusted/authoritative content source and answer their customers’ questions.
Local directories are a way for businesses to address all three factors.
So, our initial question can be answered by saying that directory submissions are still required for local SEO.
However, not all directories are equal in authority or weight and should be evaluated relative to their potential value.
This is especially important for directories that charge a fee to be included.
Moreover, when submitting your data, you should consider the best practices for data and contact information consistency.
Tools are also available that make it easier to set up and maintain a directory listing, especially for businesses with multiple locations.
There are many directories. Maintaining information and content across them all can be a hassle for small businesses.
We will discuss how to address each factor and how directories can aid or hinder local business’ efforts to be found.
Local Presence and Consistency
It should be obvious that a company must be able to prove its existence and residence or provide services in the area where it is ranked well.
The primary tools for establishing a business’s location are its website () and its Google Profile (GBP ).
If a local business website is available, it will contain its physical address details. These can be tagged using local business schema to make it easier to index and find by Google.
Many websites will include a map, preferably a Google Map. This will be referenced to validate the location.
Finally, you can include geographic details in the title or heading tags, if necessary, to strengthen the local focus of your business.
Creating and optimizing Google Business Profile strengthens the information and focuses on a local business website. For some businesses, it is the reverse.
Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP) information should match across both properties.
The chosen service areas in GBP should be close to the business’s location.
Service categories should also be consistent.
These two points are the foundation of search engine validation and web presence. Local directories can then be used as an extension.
This is also where consistency should be a goal, especially for NAP information and website URLs.
Tip: You can include more than one URL within a local directory listing. However, it is best to have as many local-oriented links as possible, such as a link to your Google profile, Facebook page, or listings in other local directories.
Local relevance means that your content and you are listed in the correct directories and categories.
Naturally, categorizations should be consistent with how you have defined your products or services on your website and in GBP.
You can identify three types of local directories and submit listings to them.
We’ll refer to the first as “global” directories. These services include Yelp and Yellow Pages. They offer local listings and reviews for almost every country.
These companies offer “listings” free but charge a fee to access advanced functionality and visibility.
To determine if a listing fee is necessary, you can conduct an organic search for the keywords that you want your business to appear. Then check if the directory ranks well for those keywords in the local search engine results pages.
A rep from the directory can also be asked if they can provide statistics on the organic/referral traffic your paid listing can deliver.
You should be suspicious if they do not provide these stats.
The second type of local directory is more specific to an industry, such as TripAdvisor for tourism and travel-related businesses or Houzz construction and trade business listings.
These services may provide value for your business if evaluated using the same methods.
The last type, which is more local, are the directories that local Chambers of Commerce, Service Organizations, or other non-global players offer.
These two types should be considered as they have the potential to validate local presence more objectively.
As mentioned above, small, non-global directories are only worth considering if they can also prove their value from an organic visibility perspective or referral traffic perspective.
Your business’s relevancy in your local community will be determined by the directories you submit to and the categories within these directories.
Listings in local directories can boost authority and visibility, especially for those who have established authority.
These authority boosters can be identified using the SERP test described above.
Any directory that outperforms your website, GBP page, or target keyword page is an opportunity to be found and gain authority via it.
Some directories allow content, or links to content, to be shared, such as the GBP.
This can be time-consuming, but it is possible to send your content to directories and other places, such as GBP, depending on their visibility and relative authority.
Many directory services allow review submissions. While Google Reviews are naturally preferred from an organic authority perspective, Google, and other search engines, are also aware of reviews posted on other platforms.
Like the local SERP tests, you need to pay attention to whether you or your competitors have received reviews from places other than GBP.
When considering buying from your business over another, remember that potential customers might also be reviewing these reviews.
Setting up and maintaining listings in multiple directories will take some time, especially if you have ongoing updates about your business details or services.
Businesses with multiple locations will see this increase.
For central management of multiple locations, there are paid solutions such as Uberall and Semrush. These include mapping services like Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Facebook.
These services may also allow for the review and management of social accounts.
What are your directory listings like?
It’s safe to say that directory submissions are still necessary for local SEO.
The suggested SERP test is a great place to start. It will help you understand the relative positions of your directories and listings concerning your keywords.
Many listings management services also offer a quick auditing tool to help you understand how much coverage a business has in the most popular local directories.
You can choose a submission strategy that suits your visibility, traffic goals, and budget.