There was a time when online business directories were extremely useful in terms of research and obtaining accurate information. Some directories were internet versions of their old hard copy editions and electronic databases; others sought to position themselves as the most comprehensive sources of information. Competition between these online repositories of business data was fierce, and the reason behind this old trend was because a previous iteration of the Google search engine algorithm.
When online marketing specialists realized that they could boost the search engine optimization of their clients by listing them on as many web directories as possible. To a certain extent, this was an early development of what would eventually become known as high-quality inbound links, but the problem at the time was that too many directories of dubious standing began charging companies for listings.
The most recent updates to the Google search algorithm do not pay too much attention to links coming from web directories. Even the most reputable directories that have been around since the late 20th century are not considered to be high authority domains, at least not when compared to websites such as Wikipedia or The New York Times.
With all the above in mind, there are still good reasons for companies to be listed on major web directories, and the three most important reasons are:
* Discovery: Millions of internet users continue to trust the information provided by online business directories.
* Inbound Traffic: This reason alone should be sufficient for most business owners.
* Credibility: Directories that verify and update information are ideal for building trust and promoting a sense of legitimacy.
When companies are listed on reputable directories, prospective customers and clients respond positively, particularly if the website in question offers ways for users to contact businesses directly. In and of itself, a listing on a directory is a form of transparency. Take a look at this company’s listing on Rocket Reach, a directory that facilitates email contacts; as you can see from the information provided, the principals of the business care about the public being able to contact them.
There is one directory that will always be highly relevant because of its ownership: Google My Business. In case you are not familiar with GMB, and you really should be if you own a local business, this is what remains from the defunct Google Plus social network, which at one point tried to compete with Facebook company pages. Any business owner that is serious about SEO should make every effort to keep GMB profiles up-to-date for many reasons, and the most important is that the Google search engine algorithm will treat the profile as a ranking signal.
The Microsoft version of GMB is called Bing Places, and it serves a similar purpose. Yahoo Local competes with Bing Places and GMB, but it ranks a distant third in terms of relevance. These three directories are not searchable on their own, but they connect to their respective search engine results pages and mapping applications, thus making them highly relevant in 2021.