The relevance of online directories like Merchant’s Circle, Yelp, and Foursquare is becoming apparent. However, many do not understand how it affects their SEO and SEM. This is because many people are only focused on the things that they have actively done or had done by professionals in SEO and SEM, and these large directories that have a local function may have randomly added their business or service to the directory. Approximately 90 percent of business and customers utilize the internet in finding businesses and services. Every measure that is available to gain traffic from this group should be utilized because local traffic equates to customers. This is an important reason for giving consideration to these local directories, but it is not the only reason. Google and other search engines rank higher for businesses that are listed in these same directories. This makes it absolutely essential to utilize this component in gaining local, return customers. A major problem with ineffective management of this online resource is that almost two-thirds of businesses have inaccurate or missing information on these directories. In addition, some of the information is not up-to date and not search engine optimized. The resource is free and ignoring it means that traffic is not finding the business or service. This means that only time separates a business from the advantages of gaining traffic through local directories, and this causes several problems. When someone searches the name of the business, it is not found because the directories are not optimized. This is true even when people know the name, type and even the city. If one person or group cannot find the name in Google then many more cannot also. This hurts a business because potential customers simply move on. This also occurs when people search the business and the information is incorrect. This may also lower the prestige and professionalism of the business somewhat. These are only a few of the problems that not having an effective local directory strategy can cause, but there are solutions. One important solution is to start simply and Google the business, service or person. This will show relevant information like all the local directories that are concerned with the search. All directories have a method by which people can correct or add information to the listing. Follow the instructions for each local and national directory. Make sure to repeat the search approximately bi-monthly to make sure all information has been updated and is correct. Some directories update sooner than the two weeks. It is also possible on most directories to claim the directory listing. This benefits the business because it gives the company the ability to manage the listing freely. If it is possible to claim the listing, SEO the page locally and add the appropriate backlinks. There could be dozens of local directories. This provides a great opportunity for local businesses, and their online business efforts. The different directories should be documented. This is because there could be multiple directories. Documenting them allows the business owner to have a spreadsheet on the uptick in traffic and from which sources they originated. In addition, when information changes, it will allow the business to upgrade all the directories involved. If a business uses a SEO service to optimize their online efforts, the business will have all the appropriate information to give to that SEO service, and the business owner will have the requisite oversight necessary to assess their performance. Business owners are always looking to the competition to determine if their efforts are as successful as they should be. This means that a norm can be established. Often the most successful businesses utilize every facet of SEO and SEM to support their business. Every effort that a company takes to be a step above that norm will equate in more success. This is the case with utilizing local directories in their SEO and SEM strategies. The local directories are free and often underutilized even by the most adept competition. This offers the opportunity to move ahead and gain the vaunted local customer. This movement will also be evident in the improved ranking that the online business receives. This improved Google ranking not only drives more local traffic to the site, but it also makes the business seem more professional, legitimate and credible to these local customers. If you would like to get a powerlisting scan, use the Cerebro Marketing tool to check the status of your directory listings.