For years, a select handful of business directory sites exerted undue influence on Google and Bing results. While those sites are still relevant, today’s SMB’s and national chains demand more comprehensive tools for syndicating content across multiple social search platforms. Managing reputation and boosting visibility online is of paramount importance for businesses at every level nowadays. If a business isn’t easy to find via location-based applications favored by mobile users, it’s at a serious disadvantage that can prove to be fatal. Maintaining a competitive edge in the current search climate requires a multi-layered approach to local directory listings management.
The Location Equation
These days, more and more information found online regarding businesses comes from users themselves. Location-based applications allow users to look up businesses in the real world and even leave reviews on them for others to sift through. While generic online directories still matter, they’re being augmented by social media sites and the direct user feedback that they elicit. The main takeaway is that business data is now gathered from more locations than just monolithic directories such as Yellowpages. The next generation of directory sites are taking these considerations into account when determining how and where they publish their information.
Why Listings Still Matter
As consumers demand an ever greater volume of data on the businesses they might patron, the SEO game will necessarily become more competitive. As such, directory listings still greatly impact traditional organic SERP’s online. Though many now use their mobile devices and social location-based apps to find businesses, even more people rely on desktop search to locate service providers. Furthermore, comprehensive directory listings can assist any business in showing up prominently on mobile platforms, like Google Maps, focused on local vendors. For both SMB’s and national chains, the local market is a key battleground.
A New Directory Paradigm
As large amounts of web traffic move to mobile, we’re seeing an explosion in online directories and tools that focus on helping businesses manage them. There are now dozens if not hundreds of directories online that could potentially affect search rankings and online visibility. Before, it was really the centralized giants that determined how visible a business was on the web. Now that data is coming from many different places, there are more specialized directories for all kinds of markets. Companies in the directory and indexing arena are changing the way they do business to better reflect those trends. Likewise, businesses are changing how they manage their listings data.
How Businesses are Adapting
The rise of Google for Business and a slew of competing platforms has certainly complicated the local SEO process in the past few years. Rather than manually publishing information on major directories like Yahoo Local, Local.com, Merchant Circle and Dexknows, smart marketers are using business listings management tools to simultaneously update profiles and broadcast company information with a minimum amount of effort. The time and money saved through automatically updating directory listings and syndicating content can be better spent on specific tasks. Managing Google for Business and Facebook, for instance, typically requires more attention to achieve optimal results.
The Role of Directories in Search
Clearly, the manner in which business data is indexed and categorized on the web is changing as both software and computing hardware evolve. To stay abreast of these changes, resourceful businesses must adapt their online marketing strategies. First things first, local listings found in directories matter more now than ever. The only real difference between today and five years ago is the variety of directory listings that search engines have to choose from when ranking businesses. As such, it’s imperative that businesses diversify their listings to ensure that they’re found online by prospective customers.