In a provocative piece at SEL, Chris Silver Smith discusses how universal search and the rise of the Google “10 Pack” have negatively affected organic traffic and referrals to Internet Yellow Pages sites. But he also talks about sites that are “bucking the trend”:
A number of notable local info sites appear to be bucking the trend or holding steady—most notably Yelp which is still holding steady, but also MerchantCircle, Zillow, ServiceMagic, and Realtor.com . . .
The article discusses what directories should do about the trend:
I see quite a lot of lost opportunities in SEO terms when I look over most business directory sites. Displaying the same, bare-bones content for a business’s listing which is also being displayed on hundreds of other sites is going to be less and less sufficient to maintaining organic referral traffic from search.
It may be necessary to expand out your taxonomy development efforts or partner with a company like ShopLocal, NearByNow or Where2GetIt to find out what is being sold at many of the stores listed in your directory. Finding ways to expand out keyword-rich description data about companies could be the deciding point in whether or not sites can continue to obtain natural, non-paid referral traffic.
Whether or not Chris is correct in every detail about the deterioration of search-directory referrals (vis-a-vis the Google 10 Pack) the issues he identifies are important and need to be carefully considered.