One of the challenges for a local business that wants to rank for phrases like “reno dentist” or “nashville accountant” is that the large Internet yellow pages sites and similar local directories often take up a lot of the real estate on search results pages for “city category” phrases. Ergo, one of the most basic pieces of local SEO advice is to piggyback on the authority that these IYPs and directories already have.

Two recent blog posts take a shot at trying to determine which IYP and local directory sites have the strongest rankings.

In his IYP SEO Rankings Report 2009 post, Andrew Shotland checked Google rankings for 20 categories (restaurant, doctor, etc.) in the 20 largest U.S. cities. He charted the sites that ranked in Google’s top 10, assigned points, and came up with his list of the 20 best-ranking IYP sites. The top five from Andrew’s list are as follows:

  1. Superpages
  2. Citysearch
  3. Yelp
  4. Yahoo Local
  5. InsiderPages

Ash Nallawalla of Net Magellan followed up Andrew’s post with one of his own, SEO ranking of US IYPs across 274 cities. As you can tell from the title alone, Ash dug much deeper by examining close to 300 U.S. metro areas and included 28 IYP sites in his sample. But he limited his analysis to just four phrases: dentist, doctor, divorce lawyer, and divorce attorney.

Across Ash’s four keyword phrases, the IYPs with the most consistently strong rankings appear to be:

  1. Superpages
  2. Citysearch
  3. YellowBook

But Ash’s data also reveals that some IYPs are stronger in certain verticals;, for example, had the most top 10 rankings for the “divorce attorney” phrase, and was second overall in both legal-related keywords.

While there are inherent flaws in this kind of analysis — IYPs are generally stronger in areas where they also have a print directory, for example — the two pieces together make an interesting addition to the local SEO discussion.