As an SEO professional, I hear often from clients that they formerly paid big bucks for entry into local business directories such as YellowPages.com or eLocalListing. These services are often marketed in boiler rooms, and the lion’s share of the fees the uninformed customers pay go to sales commissions.
When people ask me, “is a paid YellowPages.com ad worth it?”, I always answer, “Is YellowPages.com bigger than Google? Because a Google local listing is free.” That’s not a truly fair answer, because YP.com does earn some traffic, and does offer free listings. Nevertheless, there are a range of free local business directories that can bring backlinks, customers, and web traffic. Here’s a list of our favorites, and we use the following services for our SEO clients.
This list reveals the top free business directories.
1. Google Local. The undisputed king of all local business directories. If you aren’t in here, your competition will be, and you are missing valuable customers that are searching for you every day. Suprisingly, some local businesses still don’t have a Google Local listing. We wrote about the importance of this feature in The Power of Google Local to Improve Search Results.
2. Yahoo Local. Yahoo Local is a large local directory that enjoys high page rank. Thus, a business listing here can rank quite well in search results. Go here (http://listings.local.yahoo.com/csubmit/index.php) to add a listing. Listings are manually reviewed and take more than a month to appear in the directory.
3. Hotfrog.com. Hotfrog bills itself as “Your USA Business Directory.” The listings rank well, and the site is attractive, falling well within the confines of Web 2.0 style. Hotfrog is easy to use, and the listings appear almost immediately.
4. Yelp.com. Yelp is popular (a fair number of visitors) and its pages rank well in the search engines. So, a listing here might earn you some supplemental results in a Google search. It’s review-based, and there are a lot of “interactive” features you’ll want to skip if you just want to list your business. Valuable and free. One limitation: Yelp does not give dofollow (a link that passes valuable pagerank to the target site) backlinks.
5. YellowPages.com. YellowPages.com makes our list, with reservations. It’s hard to even find the free listing link on the site, you’ll need to squint at the very bottom of the left navigation. While a limited free listing is available, you’ll be forced to dodge pitches for paid service along the way. If your business is a dot-com (as in TastyPlacement.com) you’ll have to ditch the suffix-website addresses are not allowed as business names. So, we are in the YP.com directory as “TastyPlacement.” Other problems: a complicated signup is required (no doubt to feed leads to the YP sales staff, and yes, they will call you), and the listing is only valid for 12 months.
6. Kudzu.com. Kudzu, like YellowPages.com, is high-maintenance. Nevertheless, it is a large, highly-rated nationwide business directory that allows free listings. You will need to sign up, and again, expect to be pitched on a paid business listing. One feature we do like is that the individual listing is comprehensive and robust.