For the last several months now, Google has been displaying a 10-pack of local business listings along with regular search results for most queries that include a location element in them. This has definitely affected the amount of traffic reaching local directories negatively.
Along with the search results for most location-specific queries, Google provides this list of geo-specific search results, which they determine from the keywords in the query and the geographic location of the searcher.
The local business results within the universal search results are quite extensive and inclusive. Earlier, they used to appear only when the user included a specific location in his query, but for some time now, Google provides these local business results even for queries without a specific local qualification to the keyword if the query is deemed to be typically meant for localised searches, such as “nearest pizza”.
This universal search result includes detailed information about the businesses in the given location, including phone numbers and direct links to the website.
Due to this addition, the number of referrals to Internet directory services has shown a marked downward trend.
A study of the progress graph of various internet yellow pages, including those in the U.K., Canada and Australia, shows this downward trend.
The graph above charts the percentage of visits to the leading UK directory assistance services’ websites that came from a search engine. Over the past 3 months, most of these services have seen a fall of 1% to 8% in the percentage of traffic being referred from search.
While this is bad for these local directories, it is certainly a great convenience for Google’s users, as they do not need to go from one page to another, to find answers to their queries.
It is, of course, possible for these directory assistance sites to fight back, if they are innovative and put in a lot more effort. In fact, some directory services such as Yelp, Zillow and ServiceMagic have managed to maintain steady growth internationally in spite of Google’s onslaught.