Visibility can make or break a business. One of the biggest challenges for businesses is getting seen by search engines and potential customers. Online business directories are largely free and can help increase your company’s discoverability.
When creating a business listing, it’s important to include all of the necessary information for people to find your business. You’ll want to include your business name, URL, address, phone number and email. Make sure to keep this information consistent across all listing and review sites. If the directory allows photos, you can use this to great effect by posting images of your business, photos of your employees and more. Another issue to get ahead of is existing listings that you may not know about, like review sites and others. This is especially important because the information listed here may not be accurate. What’s more, you can’t control the spin of feedback that you don’t know is there. You’ll want to claim any existing listings you find for your business so that you can replace any incorrect information and respond to feedback.
As important as having an online presence is, it’s equally as important to have an online presence in the correct places. It’s key to know your audience and where on the web they are searching for you. You can do a search for your own business and take note of the sites from which the search engines are showing reviews and other listings. Two of the main types of directories are location-specific and industry-specific. Both types are important. It’s an easy trap to get so busy with industry directories that you forget all about regional directories. People online may find you in an industry-specific directory, but the person who walks in off the street may rely on local directories to find you. It’s a good idea to start with the heavy hitters, like Google My Business, Bing, Yahoo, Whitepages, Yellowpages, Better Business Bureau, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Some directories may charge a fee to list your business or claim to provide you with elite status within their directory. Your best bet is to avoid paying for listings unless you are certain there will be a significant return on your investment. Investigate these carefully. A paid listing may not outperform free listings on other directories. A price tag doesn’t necessarily indicate a better quality directory.
Listing your business online will open you up to a lot of spam, so you’ll want to choose your email carefully. An easy way to deal with this is to use an email that is a catch-all and then sift through it every day. Taking full advantage of your email program’s spam filtering abilities will save you a lot of time. In the beginning, it’s valuable to take an extra second to mark spam emails to enable your email client to “learn” what is spam and what is important. The algorithms get better all the time, so it’s definitely worthwhile.
Be sure to have a copy of your logo on hand so that you can quickly upload it to directories. The most commonly accepted are .jpg and .png formats. This will help keep your appearance consistent online and will increase awareness of your brand. You want one logo across all listings so that your business is easily recognizable. This is one easy way to stand out from your competitors.
Your description should define your mission, company culture and values. It’s important not to just paste your business description from your website. You’ll want to create a unique description so that it carries more weight in the search engines. If it’s exactly the same in both places, one source may be dismissed by the search engines as a duplicate.
It’s imperative to make sure that your listings are always correct and consistent. If you make a change in one listing, you’ll need to make the change to them all. A good practice is to make a list of all the directories in which you’ve listed your business so that you can make sure you don’t miss any when making changes. Keeping your listing information current makes it easy for people to consistently find you and can be a great part of your off-page strategy for SEO. They are a great source of free traffic and backlinks.
Putting these techniques to work for you will cost you nothing but time and will provide your site with valuable link juice. Listing your business in online business directories not only enhances your company’s reputation, but it greatly increases its visibility and standing in the search engines.
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