Often referred to citations, online directories are online services that allow submissions from businesses. You are able to make entries by “claiming” listings. As a general rule, these directories are free – or they are at least free initially and have a paid option to gain access to certain listing features.
When creating your own listing, you will generally want to include basic company information, such as the business’s name, phone number, address, website, hours of operation, links to social media accounts, brief description of the company, photos, and brief listing of products/services offered - often commonly referred to in general as NAP (for short).
Why Not Just Search Google?
You may be wondering why you should even take the time to list your business with an online directory when users probably don’t even know about them and will likely use Google or another search engine to perform their search queries.
The connection here is that the search engines rely heavily on the information that you place onto your website – from the content that you place on blogs to the technical content on the backend), the companies that link to your website, what is being said about your business online (online reviews), and what is currently listed in online directories about your company. This information is pulled by search engines from online directories to help them decide what will be placed in search results. Therefore, the more you can appear in online directories with accurate information, the more likely you will appear in the SERPs.
You should think of this as an online marketing strategy instead of simply trying to wrap your head around why people are using HotFrog more than Google to find your business.
But What If Your Business Is “More Serious” Than a Local Coffee Shop?
It doesn’t matter whether you are selling to walk-in customers or businesses. Online directories are going to assist in giving Google and other search engines yet another online signal that your company actually exists.
It also doesn’t matter whether you have a long sales cycle, your prices are high or if you have executive buyers. Your potential customers are going to begin their buying journey with questions that they need answers to that are related to the product or service that you are selling, and this will begin with an online search under most circumstances. As a general rule, they will use Google.
You probably want a blog post to be able to provide those answers to those questions that your potential customer just typed into a Google search engine, right? Well, for this to happen, you have to give the search engine a little boost. If you don’t, then you are going to appear in the search results, which is where the customer is going to find your blog post and, eventually, your company and your service or product.
So, your first step is to stop looking at local businesses at just the local hair salon or coffee shop. If you provide management training for large corporations, yet your services are delivered in the city, then you are considered a local business. This means that you can significantly benefit from having your company listed in online directories.
Online Directories to Focus on
If you are ready to begin adding your business to online directories, then you will want to begin with Google My Business. You will also want to make sure that you claim your listing at Yelp, YP.com, LinkedIn, etc. You will also want to ensure your company details are added to the directories of any local business groups that you are a part of. Make certain that your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) are all accurate and consistent across all directories.
Now, what I mean by “accurate and consistent” is that information from one directory to the next needs to be the same. For example, if your company address is listed as 135 W. Main St. then it needs to be listed that exact same way across all directories. You don’t need to change it up and list it as 135 West Main Street on one and 135 W. Main Street on another. This informs Google that it may be a different company, and it will treat each alteration as a different business. As a result, they will all appear in the search engine results and will act as your competition.
As you go about entering the information on each listing, you will want to make sure that you have some basic information about your business handy, including:
- Business Description – A unique and compelling description of what your business is and what it does. Make sure that this description includes what type of service you provide or what type of product that you offer. Don’t forget to include integral keywords.
- Social Media Links – Links to all of your social media pages, which are updated and valid, should be included.
- Contact E-mail – Though social media is a big hit in today’s day and age, it is important that you also include an e-mail address for individuals to contact your business, as this is easy, convenient and accessible. Make sure that the e-mail included is valid.
- Images – You should include your company logo, team photos, product photos, photos of your leadership team, a photo of your corporate building, etc. Take the time to name the photos using searchable keywords.
Don’t forget to create a spreadsheet and keep track of the online directories that you have claimed your listings at. This makes it easy when you need to make updates to your listings, such as for a change of address or office hours.
For more information on online directories and how they can work in your company’s favor, reach out to us at WebDetail.