Listing a website on relevant business directories can help it be discovered but more importantly it can help improve search rankings for local search terms. Business directories can be a good source of high-quality traffic and also a way to build relevant local offsite signals, essential for local SEO.
Whilst inbound links can influence search engine rankings, including those from high quality relevant directories, as Google’s algorithm has evolved, the power of links from business directories has reduced. Links from directories are certainly not as influential as some other types of links and are a lot less influential than a highly relevant contextual link from a high-authority industry relevant site.
Where business directories are important is in creating powerful local SEO signals. Due to the consistent repetition of business name, address and phone number (NAP details) in business directories, this reinforces details from a GMB page, which is seen by Google as a huge positive trust signal.
That being said, listing a business on a multitude of well read business directories is also a good way of building trust and boosting legitimacy and can, in some circumstances, even drive traffic from those who still use directories to find local businesses.
Types of business directories
There are many different types of business directories. Some focus on a specific industry and will only link to websites that operate in it. People may use industry-specific business directories as a way of discovering businesses that can help them with specific tasks.
Other business directories may focus only on location and offer an easy way for people to discover local businesses. Then there are very large directories that will list almost any type of business.
Links from poor business directories that search engines regard as untrustworthy or spammy can do more harm so there is a danger associated with building local signals using business directories.