I've seen on articles in the past recommendations to use a local number. Once local directory submission site required it since it claimed that some (probably some of the more obscure ones) site required a local number. In my experience so far I haven't found any of these PRIMARY local directories requiring a local number.
Now if you do a Google search or Super Pages search for a lot of common local services like plumbers, etc., I've found that quite a few use toll free numbers.
So let's forget about the potential for a directory to REQUIRE a local number, and talk more about effective local SEO/SEM. Does anyone know of any strong cases proving the local number provides a significant benefit over a toll-free one on local SEO/SEM? Or is this just anecdotal evidence from people just making that assumption?
I suppose one could assume for local SEO/SEM a local number can only help if it makes a difference at all and not hurt you as it seems a toll-free may turn off people that don't like working with big national impersonal companies, but then again, we all show at Home Depot these days mostly and not our local Mom & Pop hardware store.
It's an interesting subject I think.