Google directory assistance and SEO

I tried 1-800-GOOG-411 for the first time today and was blown away with the results. It’s directory assistance powered by Google’s local/maps search. I got the info I wanted faster and easier than I would from T-Mobile, and the cost was nearly infinitely lower.

In this world of ubiquitous search, I’m amazed that T-Mobile, Qwest and their ilk can still get away with charging more than a quarter for this service, let alone $1.50. Way to go, Google!

I was so pleased by it, that I decided to do some more searches and try to find my friends’ small businesses, but I couldn’t find them. Same goes for the company that cleans my house and for my favorite masseuse.


Well, they don’t rank very high in a local search. Either they don’t have an address on their site, or the address isn’t on the first page or otherwise placed for good Google ranking. (Yet another reason to not have a splash page without a sitemap to point Google to the right place!)

Businesses really need to get their act together if they expect folks to find them online. Google (and Yahoo et. al.) are quickly replacing the yellow and white pages. It’s not just local businesses, either – people will search for your business or your office online and in Google Maps even if you’re international.

I’ve talked to some small business owners who don’t post an address because they work from home and don’t want folks showing up, or because they want to look more international and bigger. Well, you don’t see Microsoft or P&G hiding their corporate address just because they want to look like a big time company, do you?

Update: One of my small-biz-owning friends noted that his business address is right there on his web page. So’s my other friend’s business address, actually (all three of them). Turns out it helps to register your business with Google in order to get it to show up reliably in local searches.

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Written on April 25, 2007