Online business directories are fast becoming the information hub of local customers searching for local businesses. Local customers are resigning their old, brittle print directories to the storage bin and turning to their computer and Smartphone to locate the best local business in town that caters to their needs.
Online business directories, including the hundreds of free business directories, permit for these extra details to be added to your business directory listing. It’s the local businesses who make the most of this chance that are inviting new customers.
There are literally hundreds of paid-for and free online business directories out there. But how do you know which ones are the best and what’s the key to perfecting your listing so you stand out from your rival businesses without having to dish some amount of money?
5 Quick Steps to perfecting your online business directory listing
1. Pick the most popular and relevant directories for your business
The best online directories are those that have the most number of online visitors or those that are industry-specific. But a word of caution-not all niche or free directory listing fit the bill; some have few to nonexistent user base. A quick search on Google will tell you which ones are worth your time and ones to ditch entirely. Search on Google your “business type” plus “your location”: e.g., “accountant in Leeds”. Those local business directories that appear on the first 3 search results pages are the ones to focus. (Check the online business directory comparison chart to see which directories have the most number of audiences: comparison of top online business directories.)
2. Add your business to all directories
From the list you got on step one, add or claim your business to all of them. Many local business directories buy their listing data from a provider, so don’t be surprised if you find your business already listed on some of them. For future success, it’s very important to list the correct name of your business, address, and phone number-review your business’ existing list if the information is accurate.
Note: check for a confirmation email from each directory in your inbox; follow the steps on the confirmation email to complete your registration.
3. List as much information on your local business directory listing as allowed
The beauty of online business directory listings is that you can list not just the name, address, and phone number of your business, you can enrich your listing with more details like business description, clickable website URL, facilities, list of services, logos, opening hours, pictures, etc. Use this opportunity fully to personalize your listing to make it more relatable to your customers. Review the information you entered to make sure it’s 100% correct and true to each local directories.
4. Make or use a local Special Offer Voucher
Nothing can be faster to convert browsers into actual buyers than offering vouchers or coupons on your local business directory listing. Local consumers are paying attention to the word “free” or “special offer”; your business listing will stand out against your rivals if you have these words added. You don’t have to offer heaven and earth to your customers; any form of offer is good enough to get customers to walk into the door than nothing at all.
Tip: use different voucher codes on each directory so that you can monitor which directories are giving you the most number of walk in visits.
5. Interact with the communities on these directories
Online directories are dynamic websites with vibrant, active community of users. These users or local customers are actively rating and reviewing the listed local businesses they use, and these ratings and reviews are visible to other directory users. In fact, 70% of consumers trust online business reviews-business directories know this so that they’re pushing up local businesses with positive reviews higher on search results. This is yet another small business marketing strategy you can use.
Submit Site to Quality Online Directories for Better Visibility
Business directories have always been useful if you remember the name of a restaurant, shop or electrician but can't find the telephone number. But what if you're new to an area and you're starting from scratch? You open a large directory and see pages of anonymous listings. The only logical place to start is with the "A"s. The whole experience is a gamble and a step into the unknown, making you feel vulnerable and unsure.
Offline, hardcopy directories can't offer any more than a listing service, and one that is updated after long intervals at that. If what you ideally want is a neighbour or friend to say "You should try X, I think they offer what you're looking for", but you're in a new place or can't find someone to recommend you something then what do you do? And when is a business directory more than just a business directory?
You'll find many online directories are not merely listing sites but include recommendations, ratings and reviews too. These allow you to quickly get to the right person or place for you, without wasting time contacting endless unsuitable service providers, before (hopefully) getting to the right one.
A big advantage of many online directories is that they offer national coverage. Sure, your local directory can give you the number of your local Italian restaurant, but what if you're visiting another area and want to book somewhere there? Or maybe you want to arrange for an electrician to sort out your elderly relative's wiring in another part of the country? Online directories will not only allow you easy access to services elsewhere, but ratings systems give you added peace of mind in unfamiliar territory.
Good online directories are updated much more frequently than their hardcopy equivalents, which tend to be published annually. The online directories should therefore be much more accurate, we all know that small businesses quite often change names or sometimes go out of business, so it's frustrating for everyone if they remain listed in offline business directories.
There are some aspects of life that are well known to be efficient online. Increasingly people are booking flights online, buying books and CDs from websites, even their groceries. It's the services that we traditionally organise using a business directory that can be done so much more satisfactorily online. For example organising home improvements with a builder, plumber or other tradesman. Letting someone into your home to fix it is a big deal, you want someone you can trust to do a good job and who will treat you and your home with respect. This is a prime example where a recommendation or rating, rather than just a name and phone number, is essential. Similarly with other areas of life where it's essential you get a good service - party entertainers, childminders etc.
Not only do online directories often include reviews or ratings, but there is much more scope for additional information alongside simple contact details. Photographs, links to a website, detailed descriptions, sometimes even video footage all let you make an informed choice about the business you spend your money with. Online business directories are a real step forward in providing busy, discerning people with a reliable source of contacts.
So better turn to an online service of which there are a growing number. Not only can an online business directory be updated regularly, making it more reliable than an annual publication, but you get the added bonus of peace of mind from previous users. All valuable stuff. And space on your bookshelf for something more interesting than lists and lists of business contact details...
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