Online Directories And What They Offer Local Businesses
Updated: Mar 27
When it comes to gaining visibility for your local business, utilizing local directories is an often overlooked but powerful tool. Staying connected to your local market is a crucial part of running a successful business. It can help new and established business build a firm foundation for their local reputation. But what, exactly, are local directories? How can you use them to create more exposure?
This article will cover everything from the potential reach these resources offer businesses, to what type of information should be included in a local business directory listing, and, finally, walk through specific steps on setting up your small businesses presence online in such formats.
What are online business directories and what do they offer businesses?
A business directory is a list of businesses within a specific niche, location, or category. You may remember the Yellow Pages book, now you can get the same exposure by listing on online directories. By adding your business to a directory, you are essentially including yourself in a new, more expansive, version of the Yellow Pages. For readers who have never used a physical reference before, if you’ve ever searched for ‘restaurants near me’ then you’ve seen local directories at work.
Any business who submits their information to online directories, increases their chances of showing up in Google and Google maps search results. Just like when you search online, your customers are looking for a convenient and effective way to make decisions about products or services in their area.
There are also studies that show, even though many people think yellow page directories are dead, statistics pointing to the fact that local directories’ results can match or surpass the big players (Google, Bing, and Yahoo).
A local business looking to increase the odds of being found organically online, can benefit from inclusion in business directories.
How can businesses make the most out of a business directory?
When building out the marketing strategy for your small business, you might want to focus on more visually attractive strategies like social media or video marketing. However, your great ads won’t be effective without a sizable audience to market to. Businesses benefit most from an audience grown organically. And your potential audience can better find you if your business appears in search results.
Adding your business to multiple directories will be a time investment. Maintaining those directories and listing will also be tedious, time consuming, and may cost money. However, these listings are extremely important to maintain and build in order to get your site to rank in search engines and ultimately drive leads.
Having a consistent online business profile sends good “local signals” to Google. This means Google is confident that you are where you say you are. This is important because Google and other search engines will avoid ranking your listing in the highest map placements if they aren’t sure, you are actually located there.
What are the benefits of being listed in local business directories?
In blind studies, search engine users were presented with unbranded results from search engines, multiple online yellow pages, and directories and then asked to rank the relevance of the results. When searching for locally based businesses, restaurants, and services, local online directories were ranked as giving better results.
Those same studies showed, online directories consistently came through with higher quality local search results, according to users who graded the results, as having greater relevance than those from Google, Yahoo and Bing. On average, achieving a rating of 86%. On the other hand, Google and Yahoo finished second and third, respectively, while Bing finished in fourth.
Online directories are gaining a reputation of providing better or equal local search experiences when compared with Google, Bing and Yahoo. In summary, online yellow pages and directories are viable marketing tools that can give you an edge on your competition. Creating a plan for utilizing local online and niche directories is an essential first step.
What do I need to get listed in local directories?
You can improve visibility by listing your local business' NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) on directories, online business listing sites, and citation sites. Not only does it improve your local SEO, it can also improve your rankings on search engines simply because the listings usually link back to your website.
When adding information to a directory, make sure your company listing has the following:
Consistent NAP As we said above, consistency is key. If you add or update your business on multiple business listing sites, make sure you're providing the same company information across each directory.
A link to your website Backlinks — also known as inbound links — are crucial to your company website's Domain Rating in search engines. Need data to market your business effectively? Add a tracking link at the end of this URL as well, so you can see how much traffic your website specifically gets from the business directories that are linking to it.
A company description Make sure you have a detailed description of your business that reflects your organization's mission, culture, and values.
Multimedia Give potential customers a visual taste of your business with a picture or video of your office, your employees, or your daily business operations.
There are plenty of location-specific and industry-specific business listing sites where you can submit your data. It can be overwhelming. We suggest you start promoting your local business with the big sites and then work your way towards the more niche directories.
TIME SAVING TIP: Write out all your company information using the tips above in a notepad or Word doc, then copy and paste the information on each directory.
Where can I get help improving my ranking?
Having a consistent business page across the internet is very important for local business listings in general and Google Maps ranking specifically. However, if your business is struggling to get into the maps, but your site is ranking highly otherwise, you may need to audit your business information for consistency across all of your listings. If you need help with that process, and would like to check your business information, we invite you to use our free tool: