We've updated this post for 2016. Check it out here.
While many of your potential customers search Google for information on local services, inevitably a large portion of them find their way to a local business directory. Many of these directories not only have substantial brands/marketing budgets to drive traffic, but they also do well in organic search rankings for important search terms. So even if you can't get your site ranked high for a specific search term, you can appear on the local directory site that ranks for that term. Perhaps even more important is that links to your site and mentions of your business (aka "Local Citations") can help your site rank well in both "national" organic search as well as in the Google Places results (I still can't bring myself to say the "Google+ Local" results).
So with this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to provide a list of the best local business directories for your SEO efforts. While other sites have put together similar lists, invariably they focus on a grab-bag of sites, many of which are irrelevant. We wanted to go for only those that are truly important and worth spending time on.
We have divided them into two lists:
The Largest Local Business Directories in the US
The Top U.S. Local Citation Sources
The 55 Largest Local Business Directories in the US These local directory sites, according to Compete.com, have the largest amount of traffic and are listed by size – largest first. In cases where the site is more than a directory, such as Mapquest, we have tried to estimate what % of their traffic goes to the directory. Improving your presence on these directories means your business will be exposed to a wide audience of local searchers.
Top U.S. Local Directory Citation Sources GetListed.org and Whitespark.ca recently released some amazing data on the top local citation sources by city and by category. We thought it would be interesting to take that data and determine which directories on average had the most citation influence in the entire country. While it's good to focus on your service area and category for citation building, in most cases, regardless of your location or industry, these are the sites you should almost always include while citation-building.
While a number of expected brands made the list, Facebook and YouTube are perhaps the two biggest surprises here. Then again, they are two of the biggest sites in the world and each has local business content, so perhaps it's no surprise that they would emerge as important citation sources.
How does your business appear on all these sites? Click here to scan your business. It's fast and free.
Andrew Shotland is the proprietor of Local SEO Guide, a SEO consultancy focused on enterprise search engine optimization for local media properties and multi-location businesses. He also has a new blog about Apple Maps.