People say that the business world is “rapidly shifting” to being online, but let’s admit that we’re already there. In today’s world, if you have no online marketing strategy, then you have no strategy at all. Even so, 1 in 4 businesses still doesn’t have a website, let alone a diverse online presence.
Well, a website isn’t enough to compete. Fortunately, you can increase your online presence for free. Let’s talk about the importance of getting listed in online business directories!
There are many different types of business directories out there, but they typically serve one purpose. Their goal is to inform users about businesses in specific industries, locations, or services offered. Some directories are quite specialized, promoting restaurants or blogs, and some are more general, like Google Business Profiles.
Generally, these directories will display business information such as contact info, addresses, services offered, and more. This allows users to quickly scroll through listings until they find what they’re looking for.
Consequently, business directories pose a great opportunity for businesses of all shapes and sizes to gain exposure. Let’s talk about that.
Business directories are an essential tool for businesses of all sizes and industries. Here are some of the most notable benefits of getting listed on the right online business listings.
Did you know that 68% of all online experiences start with a search engine? Certain listings can help drive traffic directly to your website. Chances are that you’ve found a business or two using an online directory, whether that started with a search engine or a directory you know well.
For example, listings are very common in the medical and legal fields. You may have also found your local elected officials, consultants, or business services through an online, third-party directory.
If your business is listed in the right directories, people searching for your specific products or services may find you this way. This can directly benefit your bottom line, offering free traffic for the long term. Some directories have a one-time charge, but there’s no limit to how much traffic you can generate afterward!
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most common reasons to worry about directory listings. Think of your SEO strategy as having 3 pillars; your website, your content marketing strategy, and your off-page factors.
Your website acts as the foundation of your entire digital marketing strategy, especially with SEO. Google uses over 200 ranking factors surrounding your website’s design and development. If that’s the foundation, your content marketing is the house you build upon it.
Blogging allows you to rank for a wide variety of searches, as you can write about any given topic in your niche. However, even with the best website and content marketing strategy, Google will still remain skeptical.
For search engines to know that your business is what it says it is, they rely entirely on factors off of your website. Anyone can put anything on a website, so they rely on certain factors for context, verification, and establishing a website’s authority.
Directories will help with the first two. If search engines see the same information about a business in multiple locations online, this will help them understand your business’s industry, general information, and verification that your business is legitimate.
Also, certain directories can directly impact what users find when they search for certain terms. For example, if they search for “marketing services near me”, business listings could be the first items to appear. This will directly benefit your organic search strategy.
If your website is the foundation and your content is the house, your off-page SEO is what ties it all together!
You may already have an SEO strategy, a social media strategy, an email strategy, and several ad campaigns. Even so, why not continue to diversify, especially on free listings? Business directories are a great way to increase your online visibility in the short and long term.
Not only can this directly benefit your bottom line, but it could also help reduce your dependence on paid marketing tools like ads. This can improve conversion rates and help you earn more profit from your digital marketing strategy.
Building a quality online reputation will pay dividends for years to come. Having a high rating from customers will help boost your SEO strategy, user engagement, and everything down the line. Opening the door to these reviews is a necessary step for every business, as long as you can manage them over time.
Once you’re set-up, encourage your customers to write reviews for you online. Leave messages in your store or ask your most loyal customers directly to help get you started!
Not everybody is on Facebook or Twitter. Not everybody is comfortable calling your business from the number on your website. Business listings open the door for honest reviews and communications with your audience.
This is a great way to alert customers about new promotions, take in constructive feedback, respond to questions, and so much more. Keep as many doors open as you can for customer communication!
Did you know that 46% of search queries have local intent? This means that when someone searches for “pizza shop”, Google understands they’re trying to find pizza shops near them, not in another state. Location-specific directories and listings that use your business address will help you target your audience and confirm your business address to search engines.
Since most directories are free or one-time payments, the ROI can be incredible. Business listings are accessible to every type of business, and they can offer all of the benefits mentioned above. This makes them the perfect addition to your marketing strategy.
Now that you know why directories are one of the most accessible and beneficial small business tools available, let’s talk about putting them to use. Here are some best practices for getting the most out of your business listings.
There are thousands of business directories, and plenty will apply to your business. The obvious ones for almost every business include:
These are all great places to start for every business. However, if you want to drive more traffic to your website, there are still plenty of others. Most importantly, you should look for location-specific and industry-specific listings.
The reasons for this are simple; diversity and driving the right type of traffic. Users searching on these directories are far more likely to make conversions or engage with your website. For example, people looking on a directory of therapists in their area are a lot more likely to seek the services of a therapist they find on the listing.
From there, there are still plenty of others to choose from. There are blog-specific directories like Blogarama and others that are worth trying to boost your content marketing strategy. Some are paid, some are free, but they can all offer plenty of value.
Get on as many listings as possible. We know it can be overwhelming to look at all of the possible locations to list your business, but it is essential for building your online visibility.
You can even include these into one convenient platform with your advertising campaigns to monitor them over time. This way, you can track all of your business strategies with one tool.
Every listing should have as much information as they allow. Let’s use Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) as an example here.
We’ve all seen these listings, and your business likely has one whether you signed up or not. It’s important that you fill out every prompt and optimize your listing. This includes:
The list goes on. You can even verify your business address and phone number by responding with a code Google sends you in the mail or through a phone call. Every listing will be different, but try your best to fill out all of the necessary information.
Arguably, this is the most important tip on this list. Consistency is key for your users, but especially for your SEO strategy. Google’s algorithm is amazing when it comes to judging variances in keywords, but not always with these listings.
For example, Google can easily tell that “used car Providence” and “used cars in Providence” are likely of the same intent. The pluralization changed, and there was an added stop word (“in”).
However, the algorithm may get confused if it sees an address like “0 Lisbon Street, Lewiston, Maine” on one listing and “0 Route 196, Lewiston, ME” on another. Even if these are the exact same addresses, it can still cause confusion. In that case, Google may not rank your content on map listings.
As a result, it’s essential to keep your “NAP” as consistent as possible. This stands for “name, address, and phone number.”
On every listing, every social media page, and everywhere on your website, keep these 100% consistent. “Street” isn’t necessarily better than “St”, but whatever you choose, keep it the same. Write down exactly how you intend to write these, and keep it the same everywhere online.
To do this, simply save your information into your browser or a spreadsheet. Manually inputting this information is a daunting task. Fortunately, small business tools like Chrome autofill and a multi-location marketing dashboard can make the process a lot easier!
This is especially important on Google My Business, but it’s critical everywhere. If there are any updates to your business information, it’s important to change them everywhere exactly the same to stay consistent. Write down a checklist of all of your platforms for easier management down the line.
However, that’s not the only time you’ll need to manage these listings. Customers may leave feedback, ask questions, or reach out to you through these platforms. It’s important that you respond in a timely manner.
If you are inactive on your Google Business Profile, Google will take notice. Always respond to reviews and questions in a timely manner and make updates whenever necessary. This includes business hours, services, and more!
If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of initial work, or if you’re concerned about maintaining your presence online, that’s okay. There are plenty of solutions that can lighten the load. These include artificial intelligence, managed services, and more.
Building an SEO strategy and an effective online presence takes time and expertise. If you don’t have the time to learn all of the tricks of the trade and implement all of these tips, then leave it to the professionals. With the right reputation management services, you can even have these platforms managed over the long run!
Now that you know the importance of business directories and how to get the most out of them, put these tips to use today. This is an affordable and easy way to increase your online visibility, drive new traffic to your website, and improve your conversion rates. With the right help, you can start seeing the benefits right away!
Stay up to date with our latest small business tips, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or for help with your strategy!
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