Shell thank you for the quick reply. I know you're not being obtuse when yoiu say it's difficult to decide which Directory is a 'good; one to obtain a link from. I think the question should be as to why a Directory listing that is open to everyone and anyone would constitute a good place to obtain links from. For the record Directory listing was one of the most abused backlink building techniques until Google started rolling out the Panda update in early 2011, in preparation for semantic search, cleaning out its index from aritifically inflated PR sites and Directories whose sole purpose was to provide links.
Everyone games the system. It's human nature. The difference lies in what degree that happens and what risks are being taken. Semantic search makes that way harder which is why so many SEOs are complaining about it.
I did not point out that publisher mark-up is useful for quality brands. I said quality websites, that's irrespective of size provided the criteria for quality are met.
Finally you totally misunderstood my comment on local search. Local search is fully semantic. It therefore takes into account your location (for location-based searches), your search history, your social connections, your search patterns, answers to similar queries, your search query, the time of day (where relevant), whether you are in a car or on foot (where appropriate) to provide the best answer possible (it wil not restrict it geographically unless not doing so will degrade the results as per your plumber example).
As you're no doubt aware semantic seatrch indices need to be built around each language. Voice search started out in the US and is being rolled out across the world, hence my reference to US and UK audiences. I did not, at any point, mention that it is for internet only business. If anything I specifically said that "A local business that is best suited to surface in response to a search query will do so regardless of size or amount of money spent on SEO, provided of course, it has taken the steps necessary to be indexed properly." Local implies a physical location in a locale.