This article was first published in 2019 but was updated on May 9th, 2022.
As a small business owner, you know how important it is to get found by potential customers. Attracting new customers is a challenge for many small businesses. Creating listings for your business within online business directories will help you overall visibility and online presence. In this article, we will be discussing why business directories are important for small businesses all over the world. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What Are Business Directories?
Online business directories are websites where people go to search for local companies. They work like the yellow pages in a phone book. Customers can find your company address, phone number, email address and website link. Business directories group companies in categories, such as “Plumbing,” “Clothing,” and “Dental Services.”
Internet providers may create local business listings in your area, and there are also large search directories online. Here are a few popular directories where you can share your company’s contact information and create a business listing:
- Google My Business (Google Maps)
- Apple Maps
- Bing Places
- Yellow Pages
- Better Business Bureau
Business directories help people who are searching for your company and are looking for specific services. If someone types “wedding planners near me” into Yelp, they can see a list of local wedding planners. For your business to appear on Yelp, you would need a Yelp account.
When you create an account on Google My Business, customers can see your company’s phone number and website. They can also see your business with Google Maps, so it’s easy to find you with GPS.
What Are the Advantages of Using Business Directories?
There are many business directories on the web, so it takes time to add your information to all of them. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely. Local business listings provide eight incredible benefits:
Help Your Customers Find You
This is probably the biggest reason to use search directories. People want shopping to be fast and easy. Customers like to type your name into Google Maps and see directions straight to your store. When people have an emergency, directories help them find your phone number ASAP.
Reach More People
When more people know about your business, you have more customers. Directories make sure that your name appears when people look for specific services. This is important if you work with carpet cleaning, construction, painting and other services. If you sell products around the U.S., you can have customers from California to New York.
Improve The Local Search Rankings Of Your Website
Local searches help you attract customers in your area. Business directories that show your address, city, and state make you rank higher on local searches. A Google My Business account tells Google where you are and what kind of business you have.
Take Advantage Of Great Advertising For Free
How much does it cost to create a Yelp profile or Yellow Pages Business account? It’s free. Business listings are one of the most cost-effective marketing tools ever.
Help New Customers Trust You
Business listings tell people that your company is real and has lots of experience. Even before they meet you in person, new customers see you as someone they can trust. Places such as Yelp also help you create a great reputation with ratings. When happy customers give you four or five stars, other people trust you even more.
Market To The Right Customers
If you only sell products in the U.S., marketing to someone living in France is a waste of time and money. Business directories help you find customers who live in your area. These people are the most likely to buy your products.
Show Google That Your Business is Popular
Every time someone goes from a small business directory to your website, Google sees it. The more traffic you have, the more Google makes your name appear on all kinds of searches. Being popular has lots of advantages for SEO and search rankings.
Encourage positive reviews
Five-star ratings and positive reviews are very good for sales. Many people look at online reviews from other customers before they buy products. If you have many great reviews that talk about your products, new customers want to buy them too. Of course, you can only get reviews if you list your company in a business directory.
How Can Small Business Owners Get Started With Online Directories?
By now, it’s obvious that search directories are essential for success in digital marketing. So how can you get listed? It’s best to create accounts and listings for several business directories. The more directories you list with, the more people you appear to. At the very least, focus on Google My Business, Yelp, Manta, and any special directories that focus on your services specifically.
To get started with Google My Business, Yelp, and Manta, the process is fairly straightforward and easy! Here are a few links that will direct you to the page to get started:
Your business may need to create a new account on these platforms or log in with an existing company account.
How To Optimize Your Small Business Directory Listings
If you’re a small business owner, you know how much every customer counts. Keeping your small business directory listings optimized and updated is essential to attract as many customers as possible. Here is a step-by-step process to follow when optimizing your business directory listings:
Publish Contact Information
The name of the business and contact information is often the first thing customers will look for when reviewing business listings. Ensuring the name, address, phone number (NAP), and email addresses are updated and spelled correctly will help customers more easily contact your business. If something is misspelled or does not look professional, it will affect how the customer perceives your business.
Update Business Hours
Nothing is more frustrating for customers when they follow your business hours online only to discover the hours have changed and your business is not open. Update your business hours as often as you change them. When you join a business listing registry service, you can ensure the changes are applied across the board.
The business hour updates are crucial for seasonal times where you may go through a lot of changes. Plan ahead to ensure accuracy. For example, some business registries allow you to add specific dates. Instead of general Thursday hours, you could add adjusted hours for a day like September 15th if you planned to close early.
During holidays, your business may offer extended hours to increase shoppers. It also may close early depending on the individual needs of your business. Customers should be made aware of these changes as you update your business listings.
Verify Business Location(s)
Businesses may move or relocate, but a directory may not automatically update along with your move. If you have a wrong address listed for your business, you could lose potential customers who try to visit the business in person. Many business directories rely on map services to guide customers to a business location.
Updating just a single business directory will not update all of your address information and a customer could be led the wrong way. With small business directory services, you can ensure your business location is uniform across all platforms. The correct street name, number, and city is essential because one mistake could lead to an unverified profile, confusion, and lost customers.
When a person searches for your business, they want to know if your business is still open and active. One way to indicate your business is open is the pictures featured for your business. Some directories will feature one main picture with a gallery of others. Other directories will showcase multiple pictures.
Look at the pictures and ensure the pictures do not date your business in any way. For example, advertising indicating previous years or pictures that are clearly outdated could have a big impact on your website’s influence.
Try to provide an updated picture every couple of months. Not only will the picture showcase your business is going strong, but you can implement metadata into the picture. Add tags and information into the picture’s description. You could even add the year to ensure people know the images are current. Set reminders to have your images replaced when needed.
Another way to instill confidence for your customers is to generate and respond to reviews. Reviews show customer interactions and experiences with your business. If the reviews are positive, this will build trust with the customer as they make their purchase decision. Reviews are also a great way to get feedback from your customers. Each business listing platform does reviews a little differently but generally, it is strait-forward and easy to understand once you have access to your profile.
Why Local Listings Matter To Small Business Owners
The more sites that correctly list your info, the more likely it is that you’ll be found by customers searching for small businesses like yours. You’ve heard about the many local directories on the internet, and you’ve probably been told that you should claim your business listing on those sites. But you still might be asking: Why? Maybe you’ve already got a website and social media profiles — why does it matter if you’re listed on a bunch of other sites as a small business?
The answer is simple: Customers. The more sites that correctly and consistently list your business info, the more likely it is that you’ll be found by more customers. Online directories are the digital equivalent of the phone book, except it’s no longer enough to be listed in one phone book. You need to be listed in all the phone books. Here are five reasons why listings are so important to small business owners looking to attract more customers.
Boost Your Local Search Ranking
When search engines like Google crawl the web, they look for mentions of your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP). Even slight variations, like an abbreviated street address or alternate phone number, signal to search engines that your business might not be legit. When your NAP info is consistent in every citation, on or off your website, search engines will see your business listing as trustworthy, boosting your rank in search results and possibly earning a place in featured results like Google’s Local Three Pack.
Build Consistent Contact Information
Consistency isn’t just key to search engines. It’s also important to customers. What happens when a customer finds an outdated phone number for your business and the line is disconnected? Or they try to visit your storefront but find the door locked because it’s your old location? That customer is going to think you are unprofessional and disorganized, and they’re going to take their business to your competitor. You need to ensure that customers find your correct phone number and address every time they search, no matter what site they’re using.
Secure Your Reputation
It’s not enough to find and correct all your local listings. You also need to “lock” those listings to make sure they don’t change again. Online directories get their listing info from aggregators that scrape government documents and other public data sources. This info is often wrong and outdated, but it could be used to overwrite your listing — even after you fixed it! Even worse, an unscrupulous competitor could claim your listing and replace your phone number with theirs. Locking your business listings is key to protecting your reputation and securing your business’ online identity.
Get More Web Traffic
When your online listings are correct and consistent, it signals to search engines that your business is legitimate and trusted. And when search engines like Google and Bing trust your business, more customers will see it in search results, resulting in a lot more visitors and traffic to your websites. This also applies to featured placements like Google’s Local Three Pack, Google Maps, and key placement on mobile searches.
Get More Phone Calls
Most web searches today are not conducted on computers — they are conducted on smartphones. When a customer finds your business listing with a mobile search, they are just as likely to call your phone number as they are to visit your website. That’s great news for small business owners — but only if customers find your correct phone number. Updating all your local business listings is the only way to make sure customers find the right info every time.
There are more than 70 maps, apps, and local directories that list your business info. Claiming and correcting your info on all of these sites would take a very long time.
Manta Makes It Easier
It’s not hard to get started with local business listings for Google, Yelp, Manta, Facebook and more. However, working with SEO experts can make things even easier. It takes time to register with dozens of business directories and make the profiles look great. It also requires effort to keep your information up to date, so having professionals on the job is a huge advantage.
With so many business directories to choose from, submitting your information to all of them can be overwhelming. Let Manta save you time with our business listing services. We help small businesses get found around the corner and across the country. With our assistance, we can put your business information all over the web. If you are looking to improve your overall online visibility, Manta’s affordable SEO services are here to help!