Here’s an interesting survey on the factors that influence a local business’ ranking in major search engines.
The Local Search Ranking Factors survey asked 27 experts to rate the importance of 41 different criteria that could impact a business’ ranking in search engine results. The experts said that major data providers and Internet Yellow Pages sites are the second-most influential factor in determining those rankings.
Superpages.com and Yellowpages.com were two providers mentioned by respondents as being most important.
We’ve been saying for a while that a strong presence in Internet Yellow Pages directories makes good sense if you want customers to find you online. That’s because Internet Yellow Pages sites are trusted sources of information for search engines like Google and Yahoo. Bing, as blogged about here recently, features listings YellowPages.com.
Here are a couple of quotes from experts who completed the survey:
- “Being listed in the right directory or online Yellow Pages can make the difference between #1 and not listed.”
- “This is still the single most important factor to local search rankings in my opinion.”
- “I think this has the biggest effect after location.”
- “These are powerful. It seems they are more powerful than business owner supplied information in Google.”
I imagine that the typical small business doesn’t know what a search engine algorithm is. Yellow Pages companies have been working to help small businesses address this by taking on the role of marketing consultant. Search engine optimization and effective Internet Yellow Pages listings are certainly part that consulting process.
In the past, we’ve also discussed how listing local numbers in Yellow Pages do a better job at attracting customers than toll-free numbers do. It turns out there could be a dual purpose for listing a local number. Some of the experts in the survey expressed concern about how an 800 number without a corresponding local number might impact search engine rankings.
One even said, in all caps: “I would NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE AN 800 NUMBER!”