Local SEO – Online Local Directories: Diaries of a Googler

POSTED BY Fusionfarm - 07.21.14 - SEO

Online Directories SEO Online Business DirectoriesWe hear this all the time, “Why should I care about online directories like Yelp, Foursquare and Merchants Circle? I don’t use them when I search online.” It's true, the majority of people DON’T use these directories to perform an online search – they use a search engine. So if that’s true,why are local Business Directories and Online Listings (like Yelp, Foursquare, Merchant Circle, etc.) important to your business?


More than 86% of local consumers and businesses turn to the Internet first to find local businesses. Getting your business listed on these directories help you rank higher on the search results – which means more traffic. But it’s not just about being listed on these directories -- it’s about your business information being correctly listed on the local online directories (including complete, SEO-optimized business description, photos, images, text and links.) Getting your business listed on these online directories not only helps you with your rankings – it also helps your potential clients. 

Below is an example of how online directories appear in search results:

Online Directory Listing SEO

Consider these three real-world scenarios:

Scenario 1

A new pizzeria opened up in the downtown area. We were all very excited to eat lunch there, but we weren’t really sure where the pizza restaurant was located. So we did what anyone would do, we ‘Googled’ it. A listing for this new restaurant did not show up in the Google search results -- not even in the top, must-have directories. The search results showed other pizzerias as well as other restaurants – but not the one we were looking for.

Not only was the business not listed on the popular directories, they also did not have a website. The only way we were able to find details of this particular business was in a news citation. (“Citations” are mentions of the business in the local online newspapers, TV stations or other websites.) From there we found the address and hours -- and had a great lunch.

The Problem:
We knew the name, type of restaurant AND the city – and we still couldn’t find them when we searched Google. Should it be that difficult to find a local restaurant? (Answer: “No.”) How hard would you have looked? There are quite a few restaurant options in the downtown area.

Cost to the Restaurant:
Chances are if I was searching for this new pizza restaurant, there were other hungry people who were doing the exact same thing. How many other searchers couldn’t find the new pizzeria and how much business did they lose because of this?

The Solution:
Get listed immediately on these online directories; Google My Business, Yelp, Urbanspoon,and Bing Places for Business and Yahoo! Local at the very least.

Scenario 2

We wanted to enjoy a later meal after work in the downtown area on a Thursday evening. We knew the name of the restaurant, but we were not sure of the hours. We ‘Googled’ the restaurant.

A large Google listing, complete with a map and restaurant reviews, as well as multiple directory listings were displayed in the search results. We clicked on the Facebook listing. There were more than 3,000 Likes, multiple photos and posts. It seemed to be a very attractive, active page. We clicked on the website url, but there wasn’t a website; it bounced back to Facebook. The hours were displayed on their Facebook page, and I noticed the restaurant closed at 4 pm on a Thursday afternoon and thought that was early. So I made a post asking for a confirmation of their hours.  I want for a reply for over an hour and never received a a response. I assumed they had closed and we went elsewhere for dinner and drinks.

The Problem:
We knew the restaurant name, we found them online but they had incorrect information listed.

Cost to the Restaurant:
They lost a sale: the price of appetizers, two rounds of drinks and two dinners. I lost trust and wondered "can I trust OTHER information that I found?"

The Solution:
Correct and optimize your online listings, local directories and social profiles.

Scenario 3

A new bar opened in a location that had formerly been an artisan food café. We were excited to have a hip, new café and bar. So I Liked their Facebook page and was hoping to be updated on specials. Friday came around and the new café/bar posted Happy Hour specials on their Facebook page. We clicked on the website URL we found on the Facebook page and went to a website that showed their menu. The food and beer selection looked great, so we decided to go. Arriving at the new café and bar, we promptly ordered based on the online menu we had seen. To our surprise and disappointment, nothing we ordered was offered at the new café and bar. Rather, the menu we had seen online was for the former artisan café. Our intention had been to stay for Happy Hour and dinner, but we decided to order elsewhere after finishing our drinks. 

The Problem:
We knew the restaurant, but found incorrect information.

Cost to the new café and bar:
Cost of four meals and four drinks.

The Solution:
The business needs to correct and optimize their website, online listings and local directories.

It’s shocking, but 40-64% of businesses have something incorrect on their online business listings. Taking ownership of your listings is critical to your business’ success. It isn’t enough to be found. The information has to be up-to-date, correct and optimized for search engine optimization (SEO).

Remember, that doing it right will take you a few hours. Doing it wrong will take many hours (and can possibly cost you a lot of money). And not doing it at all, is not an option.

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