The ultimate guide to business directories for local SEO

Trying to get your business to appear high in the search engine results can be a mountainous task. Fortunately, physical and local businesses don’t need to struggle to climb the SEO mountain. Local SEO is a way to help attract local customers, including the use of business directories.

Check out our guide to local SEO

What is local SEO?

What is local SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving your website ranking in the search results. These higher rankings will usually equate to a much greater online presence, brand awareness and higher traffic.

However, small local businesses may struggle to achieve top-ranking positions that help them to benefit from greater online presence and website traffic. With fierce competition to gain a top spot, business owners may struggle to attract potential customers.

Enter local SEO. Local SEO is similar to traditional SEO but instead focuses on optimising your online presence in local and localised searches. Phrases which include location, such as “Coventry”, or localised phrases, such as “near me” provide local search results.

If you’re not sold on local SEO yet, check out these stats from Go Gulf:

  • 46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information
  • 97% of users have searched online to find a local business
  • 78% of local searches on mobile lead to a purchase in-store

Learn how you can optimise your mobile website for local SEO.

If you have a business with a physical address or that serves a specific area, your business can benefit from local SEO. Optimising an effective local SEO strategy can help to improve your local search rankings and attract customers to your store.

Local results display differently in Google too. Local results are typically displayed in a 3-pack with a Google Map and appear above the coveted number 1 ranking position. Alongside local packs, local search also includes organic results:

Local search results showing the difference between local pack and organic results

How does local SEO work?

Local SEO uses a different set of ranking factors to determine your position. Google’s local search algorithm is primarily centred around 3 factors. These are:

  • Relevance of your business to the search query
  • Prominence of your business online compared to competitors
  • Distance of a location to the searcher (especially with mobile search)

You can find out more about the local algorithm here.

Keyword research is still important for local SEO. If Google believes the intent of your search is local, local results will be displayed whether a keyword is local or not. Even a search for “supermarket” will display local results:

Local search results example

See how you can create a good keyword strategy

Why are business directories important for local SEO?

Business directories for local SEO

One tactic you can use to optimise your local SEO strategy is to utilise business directories. Online business directories are the equivalent of the digital Yellow Pages. While the majority of people search for local businesses on Google, some will also use local business directories.

Business directories are similar to the old Yellow Pages. Adding your business to online directories helps to grow your online presence. A well optimised directory will include information about your business, including name, address, and phone number.

Adding your business to online directories also provides you with the opportunity to gain a link to your site. Not only does that help drive traffic, but it also helps in growing your local citations (mentions of your business online). Local citations are important for helping to boost your local rankings.

Top tips for optimising business directories

Venturing into the world of online directories can be daunting for newcomers. With so many different directories available (some better than others) and what to include, it may be hard to know where to start. These 5 tips help you to quickly optimise business directories.

1. Check for existing directory listings

Even if you have never used a business directory before, some may already have a listing for your business. Before anything else, you should check to see whether a listing for your business exists.

To do this, either search directly on a business directory (suggestions in the next sections) or do a Google phrase match search for your business name alongside location:

Google phrase match search for business directories

You may have to go through a few pages of search results, but any existing directory listings should appear.

2. Claim any existing listings

If you find existing listings for your business, you should claim them. By claiming a listing, it proves to the directories you are the owner and authorised to maintain the online presence of your business.

Claiming a listing also allows you to make any necessary changes. It is likely that listings may have incorrect or outdated information. Claiming a listing will allow you to make these changes. As the owner of a listing, you can also add any missing information.

To claim a listing, look out for an option somewhere on the listing page. You will also need to register with a directory to claim and manage a listing. Typically, an unclaimed listing will provide the option for you to claim it. Here is an example from the bottom of a Yell listing:

Yell business listing highlighting how to claim the listing

3. Create a new listing

If a business directory doesn’t already have a listing for your business, you’ll need to create one. Fortunately, creating a new listing on a directory is not difficult. To create a listing, you will first need to sign up to the directory.

After you’ve created an account with the directory, you’ll be taken through a few steps to get your listing set up. You will need to provide details such as:

  • Business name
  • Physical address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Category

The final step to creating your business listing is to complete the verification process.

4. Verification

Once you’ve signed up for the business directory, you will need to go through the verification process. Verification helps to prove you are the business owner and prevents anyone from claiming your business listing.

The verification process takes place by phone or email. Phone verification involves providing a code that you enter during the verification process. Email verification usually entails providing a link you need to click.

5. Add details, photos, and reviews

Try to complete the listing and fill in as many sections as possible. The more details you enter, the greater your presence on the directory. Most directories will allow you to include a wealth of details about your business, including:

  • Contact details, such as an address, phone number, and website
  • Images, including your business logo
  • Business description
  • Details about products and services
  • Social media profiles
  • Opening hours
  • Reviews

Try to complete as much of your business listing for a stronger presence in both the directories search results and in Google search results. Try to include some of your local keywords within your business listing too (but don’t keyword stuff).

An important thing you need to remember when providing information for a business listing is to keep your details consistent. NAP consistency is important for a stronger presence in local search results. Find out more about NAP consistency and why it’s important for local SEO.

Top 8 business directories

With the vast amount of business directories online, it can be tough to know which ones you should use. To help get you started, we’ve picked out 10 business directories for UK local businesses.

1. Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile logo

Any content about business directories will be hard pressed not to mentioned Google Business Profile. If you want to appear in local pack results and maintain a strong online presence in Google’s search results, you’ll need a well optimised Google Business Profile.

A Google Business Profile is the top-ranking factor for local pack results. Formerly Google My Business, a Google Business Profile is the most important online directory for a successful local SEO strategy.

A fully optimised Google Business Profile will include a wealth of details, including:

  • Consistent NAP details
  • Images of your business, including exterior and interior photos
  • Service options, such as takeaway or dine in for culinary businesses
  • Events and news
  • Products and services listings
  • Reviews
  • Opening hours

Discover how effective reviews are and how they influence customers purchasing decisions.

A Google Business Profile will also display your social profiles too. However, you cannot add social links manually. Google automatically displays links to your social profiles. Make sure you include your social links on your site so Google crawlers can find them.

To see a well optimised Google Business Profile, check out The Botanists profile:

The Botanist Google Business Profile


Yell business directory homepage

Yell is another popular business directory you should consider adding a listing for. The publisher of the Yellow Pages, Yell’s business directory receives around 5 million visits per month. While Yell does offer paid digital services, you can register for a free directory listing.


Another popular directory site to consider is Hotfrog. The UK Hotfrog directory attracts around 20k visitors per month. Alongside providing all the details customers need about your business, a listing will also display whether it is verified, to build trust and credibility with your customers. Hotfrog listings are free.

Hotfrog business listing for Nu Vision Logistics


Yelp is another top UK directory you should create and optimise a listing for. Yelp’s UK directory site attracts around 115k visitors per month, showing how important it can be in boosting your online presence. Yelp listings are free to create.

Yelp business listing for Dreamscape Design

5. My Local Services

My Local Services UK is an online business community, including a directory and forum. While this directory lacks features, such as uploading images, the directory still attracts around 85k visitors per month. Search results from the directory indicate whether a listing is verified or not.

My Local Services UK business directory search result example

6. Cylex

Cylex is another top UK business directory with a strong online presence to help grow your business. Attracting around 2.5m visitors per month, Cylex directory listings include a wealth of options for optimising a listing. Route planner, map, pricing lists, menus, and many more can be added to a Cylex listing.

Cylex business listing example for Electrostore Online

7. FreeIndex

Our last pick for the top UK business directories you should create a listing for is FreeIndex. FreeIndex listings allow customers to request a quote directly from a listing, alongside showing if a listing is validated. The FreeIndex directory attracts around 65k monthly visits.

FreeIndex business listing for Dreamscape Design

Business listings play an important role in boosting your online presence. The more local citations you manage to generate, the greater the possibility of you appearing high in the local search results. Don’t forget to claim and optimise your Google Business Profile too for the best results in growing your business online!