What is MANTA and is it good for SEO?
Q: How long should it take Google to recognize your keywords and start improving your rank?
A: queued for Jason
Q: Why do directory sites like Manta come up first when you enter a company's name in the search?
As for your first question, as we discussed in the SEO training session, it depends. Google does NOT index all sites as the same rate. You can actually 'train' Google to index your content more quickly by producing content on a regular basis, making one click access from your home page, etc. (I teach this in the classes on news and on website structure for SEO). So it depends. A site like jm-seo.org is indexed very very rapidly - just a few days, and for our blog, a few hours (!).
Sites like Manta, Yelp, use a lot of link tactics to show up. Yelp, for example, encourages vendors to post icons on their sites that link back to Yelp (hence creating link juice / link energy); they also have lots of NEW content such as user reviews, that Google gobbles up. Manta is a new competitor in this space, and the same tricks are at work - many inbound links from companies included on Manta, and new user generated content.
So in some industries you have to play two games. An SEO game (get to the top / get on page one) and a Yelp / Manta / Citysearch / Google+ Local game by getting listed on those sites, and manipulating their search engines. It can be done - it's just a multilevel game.
Hope this helps!
- Jason McDonald