Is Local Directory Traffic On The Rise Again?


I keep a tighten eye on a health of a internal online office market. It’s an critical partial of a internal information ecosystem, and it’s executive to a reference work finished by us (at my company, BrightLocal) and by many thousands of internal hunt marketers.

I’ve been monitoring the trade fortunes of a series of office sites given 2011, and a charts and analysis next are a follow-up to identical information we common final year.

The information is taken from Quantcast, and a figure used is their U.S. “People per Month” data, that they report as “[t]he estimated series of people assessing a skill from online and mobile web in aggregate.”

Note: The total supposing by Quantcast are estimates and will differ from other tracking sources. The information is best used to perspective trends and to compare volumes and trends between sites. The information is for a U.S. — U.S. directories and U.S. users.

We complicated 30 of a many prominent, good known, and high trade U.S. directories including Yelp, Whitepages, YP, MapQuest and 26 others.

The altogether design stays one of long-term decrease for a internal online office marketplace as a whole, with a exceptions of a integrate of directories bucking a downward trend. However, in a final two months, a total trade to directories appears to have bounced and is climbing again.

Most Sites In Decline But Yelp Remains Constant

All Sites vs Yelp - 2013-2015 Visits

Over a past 28 months, there has been a 35% decline in trade to a tip online directories. We’ve distant Yelp from a rest of a organisation since a traffic is so immeasurable in comparison that mixing it with a others skews a perspective of what’s happening in a attention during large.

In fact, we can see that Yelp’s revisit numbers (approx. 80 million/month) are roughly a same as a other 29 sites combined! This unequivocally shows a impact of Yelp’s investment in its service.

Yelp has grown and nurtured a constant review-writing audience, that has authorised it to build a many extensive set of online reviews for internal businesses. In turn, it has cumulative poignant placement deals with Yahoo and Apple Maps. This, along with substantiating itself as a domicile name brand, has meant its user numbers have remained high and flourishing while those around it flounder.

Are Bigger Brand Directories Doing Any Better?

We know that Google likes brands and uses code as a approach of distinguishing creditable sites and businesses from others with identical calm though reduction authority. Yelp positively advantages from this.

Among a 30 directories we examined, there are some other well-known(ish) brands; we’ve dubbed these the “Big 12.” So, are they faring any improved than a smaller, obtuse famous brands?

The following draft looks during % change in visits from May 2014 to May 2015.

Percentage Change - Visits - Last 12 months

So, it appears a answer is, “No, not really!”

In fact, a bigger directories have mislaid a incomparable commission of their traffic (18%) than a smaller directories (13%). Over a same period, Yelp saw a 6% uplift in traffic.

So, Is The Future Bleak For Local Directories?

If we concentration in on a initial 5 months of 2015 (Jan-May), a story indeed looks a small some-more flushed for a beleaguered directories. The draft next shows a tumble from Jan-March, that is topsy-turvy in Apr and May.

All Sites vs Yelp - Jan 2015 - May 2015

If we separate out the Big 12 directories from a smaller sites, afterwards we can see that a Big 12 have benefited a many from this reconstruction of fortunes, while the smaller sites have not.

Percentage Change - Visits - Last 5 months


Who Are The Big Winners Losers?

If we demeanour some-more closely during the Big 12 sites, we can see that over a final 12 months, there have been some transparent winners and losers.

Big 12 - Percentage Change - Last 12 months

The Better Business Bureau website ( has seen poignant expansion in visits, adult 70% from May 2014 to 10m visits/month.

Yelp and have also seen some growth, though usually fractionally.

Why Is Bucking The Trend?

Technically, BBB isn’t a office like a others. It is a organisation of internal organizations that champion trust in internal businesses and offer accreditation for businesses — that helps consumers know if a business is infallible and decent versus low peculiarity and to be avoided.

But a site does yield listings of businesses, publishes consumer reviews about businesses, and earns income from businesses who get accredited. It’s also a site than many hunt marketers like to build citations on, so we’ve enclosed it in a data.

I trust there are two key things that set apart from normal directories:

  • Unique Review Content. The site is building a decent operation of reviews, that provides singular calm for Google to offshoot into.
  • High Trust Factor. Google likes sites it can trust, and BBB is built to assistance consumers make improved choices by disclosing a law about a business. But it’s not only about Google. As some-more consumers turn wakeful of, they will start to rest on it some-more when purchasing from internal businesses.

BBBorg Growth in Traffic

What Does The Next 12 Months Hold?

It’s tough to envision anything solely for some-more decline; certainly, that appears to be a opinion for smaller directories. Even as we type, a effects of Google’s May “Doorway” algorithm refurbish might be carrying an outcome on these sites. The accurate result/evidence of this is still unclear, and we indicate we in a instruction of Andrew Shotland’s blog to review some-more about this.

This decrease in fortunes will expected lead to closures or mergers of some sites as their business models no longer broach adequate income to make them inestimable ventures for their owners.

For incomparable names in a industry, a diversion is shifting. They’re now apropos selling use businesses building out a far-reaching array of services to sell to internal businesses — all from website building to PPC to repute management. Their directories offer them a source of leads to sell these services to — so they’ll say them, though they won’t be a core of a businesses anymore.

Some opinions voiced in this essay might be those of a guest author and not indispensably Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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