A Look at the Directories That Still Have Value in 2020
If you remember the days when you’d get a yellow newspaper on your doorstep in the morning, you probably have a hard time adjusting to the world of computers and the Internet.
But, just as those companies have moved to the online world, so should you. Here is the next big thing for your business after your website and social media profile — online business directories.
What are they, and which ones should you join? Our series of small business tips continues, so let’s see!
What Are Online Business Directories
Those are the present-day online versions of printed business listings. A business directory contains information about local businesses near you. Companies are grouped by industry, and you can find their name, address, website (if available), contact details, services, and some directories have reviews.
Why You Need to Be in Online Business Directories
#1 Increase Your Reach & Local Visibility
Possibly the most obvious benefit to joining online directories is the fact you increase the chance of being found by prospective clients. It is one thing to rely on just your website and completely another to have listings in 20 more directories. With your contact information readily available to people interested in your service, it is much easier and faster for them to reach you.
Don’t make it difficult for locals to find you!
#2 Improve Your SEO
So, you already know a thing or two about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), right? If you don’t, here are the basics. In order for a website to rank high in a search query, it needs to be deemed as credible by the respective search engine (e.g., Google, Bing). One of the ways to make your website seem credible is to have links that lead/redirect to your website. Of course, those links should come from relevant and authoritative websites. Online business directories are both relevant and authoritative.
Listing your business on them and leaving a link to your website will, therefore, mean you “earn” a credible link. If you are only on two directories, that wouldn’t make much of a difference. But, imagine being on twenty. Those will be 20 good inbound links to your website!
#3 Drive More Traffic to Your Website
Aside from helping your SEO, you can also use directories to drive traffic to your website. This matters beyond your optimization and backlink profile. It is important as it makes people learn more about you and your work. Even if they don’t immediately convert, it makes them more likely to do so in the future, once they have interacted with your website.
The good news when it comes to website performance is that, at any given time, you can decide to outsource this to companies specializing in small business SEO services.
Affordable Small Business SEO Made Easy
#4 Engage More Clients
Let’s face it, some people are old school, even when they are using the Internet to find plumbers. They once trusted newspapers, so now they use something similar but in digital form. Those are users who are not likely to find you through a local search. Even if you are first in the local pack, people will skip you and go to the website they deem credible.
Don’t get us wrong, the majority will choose a business from the 3 provided in the local pack. But, that won’t be everyone’s choice, and it must be taken into consideration.
Let’s say, some people have a favorite directory they go to and trust no other platform to offer them the right professional they need. Every directory is someone’s favorite, which means joining the most relevant ones will allow you to reach and engage with a more diverse range of clients. As in the example above, your rivals are dominating the local pack, but it is okay because you are still on the 1st page in the homeadvisor directory.
That on it’s own is a huge advantage, because you still have a chance to get customers despite not being in the local 3-pack.
Imagine showing up on 1st page both ways. You’d be getting much more customers than ever before.
#5 Gather Customer Testimonials
You can’t disagree — social proof and customer testimonials, in particular, are what your potential clients are most interested in. If you fail to provide that, they may never see you as a trustworthy and legitimate business.
So, customer testimonials.
It is a bit of a psychological thing for some people, but they are not likely to return to a company website and leave a review there. However, they are willing to do that in an online directory. This is yet another important reason to be listed in directories. It will encourage more people to give you their feedback. You can then take screenshots of those testimonials and include them on your own website, in the marketing materials you are using, in ad campaigns, anywhere really.
#6 Strengthen Your Reputation
Moving on from testimonials and going forward with the reputation of your business, there is one more reason people turn to online directories. They want to make sure the service provider they choose is legit. They will compare your company profile to those of your competitors, and your bio, website, and above all – testimonials – will help them choose.
If the choice is between a website with only one review and a profile in an online directory with ten testimonials, you can be sure the client will pick the latter.
You need to remember that your reputation is, to a large extent, formed by the opinion others have of you. It is not in how cool your website is and what great content you produce. Reputation is all about what happens after your interaction with the client. If you make your customers happy but don’t let them share that with the community, you are losing out on potential clients.
Before You Join a Directory
Once you are convinced you need online directories, it is time to search for relevant ones. During your search, you need to keep two criteria in mind. Before you start filling out your company listing, ask yourself:
- Is this website reputable? In other words: if a client saw me here, would that make my business more or less legitimate to them?
- Are my target clients likely to visit this website? If the answer is no, then you might want to reconsider listing your business there.
Let’s look at each of them, starting with reputation.
How do you know if an online business directory is reputable? No, it’s not a matter of how the website looks. Firstly, if you managed to find it easily with a quick search, this means clients can find it just as fast. It also means it has a good placement in search engines. Second, you can try and add a free extension to your browser that will tell you the amount of traffic a website receives. It is a good idea to use SimilarWeb, a free tool that gives you access to basic analytics about a website.
Let’s say you are considering YellowPages. This is what the tool will show:
As you can see, it has 19.6 million monthly visits, and people spend less than 2 minutes on average on it. This means two things: this directory is very popular, and people don’t spend too much time on it. You need to list your business there and optimize your profile, so people can find it quickly.
As for the likelihood of your target audience to visit that particular website, the easiest way to find that out is by checking for client activity and whether there are businesses similar to yours in the directory. Client activity refers to the level of engagement users have with the companies they hire – basically, are they leaving reviews. You can easily check if there are companies like yours. Just look for your location, industry, and services. The results are your competitors. You may even know some of them already!
Your Starting Point — the Directories That Still Get Traffic in 2020
Google is the world’s largest search engine. Listing your business there is vitally important, Period.
And, the top three, best-optimized profiles get the spotlight (like you’ve seen in the plumbing example above). What is more, over 90% of Internet users rely on Google as their primary search engine. By joining Google My Business (GMB), you are making sure your business shows up for the majority of Internet users looking for services like yours.
What is more, most companies using small business SEO services have their GMB profile done professionally, so you should strive to complete yours as much as possible to be able to compete, or you resolve to the service of an Internet advertising company to do it for you.
You have most probably heard of Yelp. It is the go-to place clients visit to review a business and find new companies. As of September 30, 2019, Yelp has over 91.3 million unique web monthly visitors, 38 million unique monthly app users, and nearly 200 million reviews of businesses on the platform.
Bing is another search engine like Google. And, although only 4% of Internet users worldwide have chosen it as their go-to search engine, the number is still in the millions.
Don’t forget, Bing is the default search engine for Edge and Internet Explorer, so make sure to reach those PC users too by adding your business there.
Remember the company that used to drop off those yellow tomes on your doorstep? Like you, they went online.
In terms of numbers, out of all the millions of monthly visitors to the directory, 91% of them end up contacting a business within 24 hours or less. With a conversion rate that high, you simply cannot afford not to be on there.
Claiming your business is free, but there are paid options as well.
This is a great local business directory for a variety of industries, from restaurants to plumbers and remodelers.
You can add basic information, photos of your work, coupons for people to download, and a link to your website. With 1.6 million monthly visitors, Superpages should definitely be on your list of directories to join.
Easy to navigate and use, Local is a great online business directory. It has 2.6 million monthly visits, and people spend more than 5 minutes on average per visit. This means they are actively engaged in the platform.
It might also mean they spend so much time because they can’t find the right business. They could be looking for you!
Like it says on the homepage, this directory is for everything home-related. Cleaning, siding installation, drywall replacement, architectural design, appraisals, you will find everything here.
It is one of the most popular directories for property owners, so don’t underestimate the benefits of joining HomeAdvisor.
GetPocket gets nearly 20 million visits per month, and people like to stick around. They spend 3:16 minutes on average per visit.
People, places, software, you can find a wide variety of listed businesses on Foursquare. This directory gets more than 30 million monthly visits, and its interface is really easy to use and navigate.
One of the most popular directories that homeowners turn to is Angie’s List. Selecting the right industry and service you need is made super easy for users. So, as long as you have a profile there, it will be a breeze for locals to find you.
Tumblr has everything. It is used by all kinds of people from various age groups. You can only gain by joining this platform. After all, it has “only” 336 million monthly visits.
Something You Need to Remember
While joining these online directories is free, your time isn’t. Account for the amount of time you will need to create profiles in them, as well as the number of hours you have to invest in checking up on client activity and updating your info each week.
Time is money, you know it well enough.
Internet advertising agencies offering small business SEO services often include your presence in online directories as part of the package. This saves you time, and it ensures it is all done well. All you need to do is respond to inquiries and customer comments, simple as that!
Online directories are not a substitute for having a website, but can significantly increase the chances of you getting more calls. Keeping an informative profile in each directory takes time, but it is worth the effort. Fortunately for you, you can outsource this service to a professional online advertising company that will create and update your profiles for you, and all you have to do is pick up the phone when clients call!