Web Directories: Why Businesses Need Them

Holly Carless

SEO and PR Executive
Contact Holly
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example of a web directories
Reading Time: 6 minutes

When we think of web directories, we tend to think of the typical old school phone books that come through the door, but you may have noticed more recently that they don’t arrive anymore. 

More traditional forms of advertising and directories are now becoming a memory, but many people haven’t realised how they’ve moved online, and how important they have become.

An example of this would be the trusted, Yellow Pages, owned by Yell. In 2019, they announced they were printing their final ever copies, which was a pinpoint in the advertising world.

Nowadays, when you browse to find the people and services you need, you search online, which is why the use of web directories has revolutionised the way we search.

(Deep breath, Holly) 

My challenge (if you wish to accept it) is to try and transform your opinion of online directories and provide you with the knowledge you need to take action on them for your own business.

What Is A Web Directory?

Web directories initially provide everything you would find in your traditional directories, but online.

A web directory includes the essential information about a company, which could include a brief description, location, contact details and most importantly (what traditional directories don’t offer) an easily clickable link to the webpage you need.

What Are The Benefits Of Web Directories?

Many business owners mistakenly believe that their listings online are placed into a giant database and get lost in the mix. But, the truth is that these platforms actually provide a range of benefits, especially for small businesses.

They Enhance Your Presence, Especially Locally

As we all know, online directories may be large and do contain many businesses, but the beauty of these online is the advanced filtering and suggestion capabilities.

As a local or even national business, online directories enable you to reach your target audience through a completely different online technique, the common ones you find today, might be through social media, paid advertising etc.

But most importantly, they allow your local business to reach your local community.

What’s Better Than Being 1st Position? Being First, Second, Thir

When you search business online, you will more than likely see your site appear first and then below you may find directories or directory type sites you are listed on.

In some cases, you may have never even submitted this listing, because business directories can pull from larger directories and automatically create either a search query or even a listing, which is why you need your directories to be top-notch, with essential and up-to-date information.

If you are a user and you see a search query and no listing, or a listing that has not been taken care of, then they will simply go off the page.

Good For SEO

Second question, what’s better than being position 1? –

Being ranked position 1 organically (If you got that right, I will hand-deliver a golden star.)

As someone who does SEO every day, it is always exciting to find different opportunities that can help you rank higher organically.

A search engine wants to be trusted by its users, so if you can provide valuable information about your site on other reliable sources, the better you are able to rank.

Online listings are an amazing way to support your current information and provide that extra little source of validation.

Web Directories You Should Be Featured In

If you’re now thinking to yourself –

“Wow, I think I might need to gander some of these directory sites, this Holly sounds like she might know what she’s doing.”

Then the perfect next step is to receive some suggestions on what you should be listed on (if you are not already.)

You may even find that you are listed, but it hasn’t been updated since 2005, and your company isn’t called ‘Massive Invisible Dog’ anymore, so it’s time to update.

Google My Business

Google My Business in some respects is one of the top dogs, in terms of web directories.

If you have an abundance of knowledge on SEO, then you may already be familiar with the benefits that Google My Business listings bring, as it is a requirement for your online marketing plan.

This type of listing combines help with your local search. Plus, Google is the largest search engine in the world.

Many businesses don’t realise the importance of an optimised listing on Google, but it provides what users need, in a much easier way. They can help create additional clicks to your site and even customer visits.

Bing Places

You are already listed on the world’s most popular search engine, so why not go for the second most popular too?

Many of us will have heard of Bing, and while only around 6% of the globe use this as their primary search engine, a massive factor you need to put into place is that Bing is the default search engine for Internet Explorer and Edge.

Microsoft still overpowers the vast majority within the computer market, but also people who don’t have a great deal of knowledge on search engines and their factors will use the first one available, which in many cases, is Bing.


Yelp is used across the globe and is still one of the top directory sites to find the local businesses you need.

Like many directories, you need to be aware of the reviews section and focus on trying to maintain good reviews for your business!

Yelp is still one that many of us are aware of, similar to Yell.


Known as “the UK’s leading online business directory”, Yell first launched their website in 1996, and are of course known to be the publishers of the famous Yellow Pages directory.

They offer to list your business for free and even the option to advertise, plus, due to the popularity, you can now download the mobile app, so you can find the people you need when you need them.

Currently, you can find over 2.9 million businesses on Yell., but are you one of them?

Thomson Local

One you may not have heard of, but a directory that is just as important as the rest. Thomson Local is another local-focused business directory and is another directory business that has gone from traditional to fully digital.

The story of how Thomson Local was created, was too interesting to leave out of the article –

“By all accounts, 1980 was an interesting year in the UK.

Hercules the grizzly bear went on the run for 24 days to avoid starring in a Kleenex TV advert, a comedian named Russell Howard popped into the world and a little company called Thomson Directories Ltd was born.

One year later and the Thomson Local Business Directory was already finding its way into over 22 million homes and businesses throughout the UK.

Fast forward to present day and Thomson Local is a fully digital business directory and marketing service business, connecting millions of customers with local businesses each and every month.”

Apple Maps & Google Maps

A slightly different spin, compared to the more traditional directory.

Apple & Google maps are automatically downloaded features for Androids and iPhones (Google maps is for Android, and Apple maps being for iPhone.)

The map feature is used by millions each day, as they work as a simple GPS, but the clever aspect is that you can place your business in this feature and people can easily find you.

If you are not listed on these maps, then it can create a real problem for your business and you can’t be found, or you may be listed in the wrong area, leading to a loss of customer visits. Making it essential you are firstly listed, and secondly, keeping it up to date.

This feature can also help bring in customers who weren’t even planning to visit you, but with certain key phrases, such as ‘Coffee Shops in Lincoln’ people may find you and want to visit, as you are up-to-date and include everything they are looking for.

Now more than ever, it’s important that you let your business be heard even louder.

Something as simple as optimising and listing yourself on existing and new directories can be an amazing way to help new, potential customers find your business and help turn those visits into sales.

The process isn’t as daunting as you think, but if you feel you would like any extra advice or tips for your local SEO and directories in particular, then please feel free to get in touch, our team of SEO experts are more than happy to help.

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