We have the same beef you do. When a directory appears above your website for local products and services, it can be a little unnerving. We fair pretty well in said directory (first in the unpaid listings), why would Google give a non-business preference in a Google search for an actual business? The answer is in the search request.
The word "best" implies that you're looking for a comparison. It is no more complicated than that. A website directory that at least attempts to provide a methodical way to compare businesses in a given category and is optimized for terms that would suggest a comparison is going to win Google's favor for the search. Google is a dumb robot, I get it... Here's the rub:
The directory I'm concerned with shows "Top Local SEO companies in Dayton Ohio" but the top three listings are all paid results and NONE of them are from Dayton Ohio. I don't think Google is that dumb but they aren't looking that closely. Since the page does list local companies in the comparison, Google thinks that they must be legit. Worse, the information relative to the legit businesses is scraped off the web (from Google search and Google MAPS mostly) or it's completely made up! I HATE this kind of deception! All three top paid listings say "Dayton Division" as if they have a local office - they don't. All have a toll-free number. NONE of them show up in the local organic listings independently.
So, should I fight this fire? I think not. Some fires burn themselves out. So, enough complaining. I think my prospective customers can figure it out. A good local SEO company should rank well on its own for "local seo agency dayton ohio
." Consistently among the keywords that we should be showing up for, we outrank our local competitors. I'm happy with that. It's impossible to win every battle.
My recommendation when you're looking for specific local businesses on the web, pay attention to the local MAPS listings too! Directories don't show up in Google MAPS. And if you're like me, I'm on Google looking for specific listings. I'm not using Google to look for directories so I can further look within that directory for specific listings (are you listening to me you Yellow Page sales guys? I don't want a search that sends me to another search!).
That said, anyone can create a directory that outranks other listings. If I wanted to promote my nearest and dearest competitors, I could do that. In fact, long-story-short, about three years ago I looked into how websites like HomeAdvisor.com were showing up in local search patterns. After studying a few sites, I created a simple blogging process to mimic the results of these companies. We affectionately named the process "HyperBlogging". A hyperblog is an independent, themed blog on a website. In my case, the theme was "Best local wifi hotspots dayton ohio
." Go ahead, Google it (or just click the link to see the results). Guess who ranks #1 for that search? YUP! Yours truly. So I'm probably pissing somebody off too! It's OK. I get it. Google's still a dumb robot.