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How Many Directory Sites Do You Need to Be Listed On?

Any guide to local SEO will mention the importance of  being listed on “directory sites.” These are websites that index and review businesses. For example, attorneys will want to be listed on Avvo, the leading law firm index, while a cafe will want to be on Urbanspoon, which reviews restaurants. These sites may directly refer traffic, plus having a listing on them contributes to your SEO.

But there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of directory sites out there. Some business owners can’t go a week without being told to “get listed” on another directory—often with an urgent, it’s-the-new-big-thing pitch to go with it. There are even services that promise to do the heavy work for you. They make sure you’re listed on 100+ relevant directories, for a small fee.

Is it worth it? And how many directory sites do you really need to be listed on?

Yelp and the Bureau

By the traffic, it turns out the answer is “just Yelp.” That’s according to great new research by Myles Anderson, who analyzed estimated traffic date for the top 30 directory sites. Here are some highlights from his findings:

  • Most directory sites have been losing traffic for at least 18 months. They’ve had a slight recovery in the last two months, but are nowhere near as strong as they once were.
  • The only major directory site that is doing well (i.e., still increasing in traffic) is Yelp.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is actually doing even better than Yelp—its traffic is increasing at a huge rate. But even with that growth rate it has only about a tenth as many visits per month as Yelp (10 million versus 97 million).

To be clear, Yelp and the BBB are not single-handedly demolishing the other directories; they aren’t picking up nearly as much traffic as the other sites are losing. Instead, a variety of factors probably contributed to the decline in directory sites. This includes better mobile search results, so that more people look directly at a business’s site instead of using a directory.

Where to Get Listed

So what does this mean in terms of local SEO strategy? For starters, just because directories are losing traffic does not mean they’re useless. Many directories still have a high authority with Google, so having a profile will pass some of that authority on to you, even if you don’t get waves of referrals.

But the opposite is also true. For every helpful, high quality consumer-led review site out there, there is a spammy, ad-heavy “directory” with data scraped from the web. A link from these sites could actually hurt you. So it usually doesn’t pay to have a service put up profiles for you on a bunch of directories, unless you vet each site first. More links are not always better.

So here are the recommendations we would make to get the most out of directory sites:

  1. Make sure you claim your Yelp listing, make it look pretty, and regularly respond to reviews.
  2. Do the same with map sites like Google Maps, Apple Maps and Bing Maps.
  3. Choose a handful of directories specific to your industry. Many of these sites may not be suffering from the traffic drain of the top 30 directories, because they are niche sites; plus they are where your core audience goes for info. Using the cafe example, you’d want to be on Urbanspoon, Tripadvisor, and perhaps Chowhound or a local directory.
  4. Ask the Better Business Bureau to list your business, if it’s not already. And work to improve your rating if it’s not an “A.”
  5. Consider your social media platforms to part of this effort, as many people will discover businesses via social.

Want all of this done for you, and done right the first time? EverSpark Interactive’s seasoned SEO team is here to help. Contact us for a free consultation and more information today.