Local search directories, also known as local business directories, are online listings of businesses that can be found at a particular location or in a particular niche. While their relevance might have declined in the past few years, local search directories still do affect ranking on search engines, and SEO is still one of the most important uses for them.
The local search directories available today evolved from the traditional indexes on paper. At the time, businesses would want their name listed on these directories to have a larger reach and brand recognition. With these search directories now being digital, things have slightly changed. Businesses are less likely to use local search directories to be discovered by the directory’s searchers, and more likely to use them to improve their SEO ranking on Google and other search engines.
Here’s how you can use local search directories to improve your website’s SEO:
1. External linking
If you’ve been in the SEO game long enough, you know how important it is to get quality links for your website’s SEO. Google and other major search engines have developed complex algorithms to index websites, and building links is an important factor in whether your website is found and indexed on the first page of the SERP.
Using local search directories is one of the easier ways to build backlinks and will give your site a substantial boost in organic search results.
When your business is listed on a local search directory, the directory will link to your website. Finding multiple local search directories and linking them all to your website is a foolproof way of getting additional quality inbound links into your website.
2. Relevancy and Discovery
One of the ranking factors search engines use is how long users stay on a particular page before leaving. Search engines use a page’s “bounce rate” as a metric for measuring whether said page is useful to the reader.
Users on local search directories are interested in discovering local business or websites, and when you list your business on relevant search directories, users who are interested in your business will visit and likely browse through your website. This increases your website’s traffic and in turn, it’s SEO ranking.
3. Snippets on Integrated Business Directories
Having your website or business appear in a snippet is great for your SEO and click-through rate. Major search engines have some sort of local search directory integrated within their engine where you can have your business listed. These directories will usually appear in the SERP page as a snippet. For example, if you have your website listed on Google My Business – the search directory integrated in Google – a quick search of your business will have your listing come up on the top right of the SERP page as a snippet.
Extra tips and tricks to make the most out of local search directories
1. Use them as a substitute for ads
Use local search directories as a general advertisement for your business. These listings provide users with direct links to your business, and brings in customers in your local area. Use local search directories as a free substitute to paid campaign ads, which can be very expensive, which will ultimately increase your sales and ROI.
2. Use images and videos whenever possible, and include meta tags
Each directory has a different format and website design, but whenever possible, you should include videos and images in your listing to make it more appealing and to allow the use of meta tags, which would in turn help your SEO.
3. Add an optimised description in your listing
Like everything else on the internet, your listing on the local search directory could come up in the SERP. An optimised description could help your listing rank for specific keywords that your website doesn’t. Look into what keywords the local search directory ranks for on search engines, and try to incorporate these keywords with your own into your listing’s description.
4. Avoid suspicious or unrecognisable search directories
Make sure you assess the validity of the local search directory before you have your business listed. Search engine’s algorithms can identify faulty or spammy backlinks, and having links from suspicious websites could reduce your SEO ranking. Make sure that the links you use are from reputable and established directories.
5. Find directories within your niche
Users who frequent niche directories are loyal to their niche, and might end up being your loyal visitors! Finding a directory that lists businesses within your niche is a great way to have your business discovered by potential regulars.
If you have the ability to get your business listed in more than one directory, then it is a good idea to do that to maximise the amount of backlinks and SEO ranking your website gets. Listing your business on local search directories is beneficial to your SEO in the long run, not to mention relatively easy and completely free!