Directories are a simple-to-use online tool that can help get your business found online. Although they’re an important part of your online business strategy, they can be easily overlooked. You could even say we treat them like the proverbial forgotten middle child of the SEO family. Let’s fix that!
Simply put, a business directory is an online database that categorises and lists businesses. You can think of it as an online phonebook, only much more powerful. There are two ways that a directory can help businesses attract attention and web traffic:
1. By categorizing businesses
A trusted directory makes it easy for someone to manually look through it and find a business that will suit their needs.
2. By being a part of a business’ SEO strategy
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the act of making a business more trustworthy to search engines so that it will appear at the top of search results. Directories can play a crucial role in helping your business be found, but we’ll talk more about this later.
Hotfrog is an example of a well-known and successful online directory that businesses are using today.
Now, you may have seen two other terms floating around the web that are innately linked to directories: citations and listings. It’s important to have a handle on these as well, as it all ties back to making sure that your business succeeds on the directory of your choosing.
A citation can be summed up by the acronym ‘NAP’, which stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. This information forms a citation, the key piece of information that you want to share all over the web. Anyone who comes across your citation will have all the basics they need to get in touch with you, or further research your business.
A listing takes the concept of sharing your business information one step further. Your listing will include your citation within it, but it can also include photographs, reviews, links to your website or social media, and tags and keywords. Your listing is what will show up on an online directory and the more information you include on it, the more legitimate and trustworthy your business will seem.
An optimised business listing will help your business to be ranked higher than the competition, both on the directory itself and on search engines. So let’s take a closer look at some of the information that directories let you include in your listing:
These are the main words that you want search engines to refer to when sending people to your site. Typically 2-5 word phrases, keywords (and long-tail keywords) are a part of, and often the context of, your content such as your business description. By putting specific keywords in your content, search engines will be more likely to suggest your listing if someone searches them.
Tags are specifically chosen words that categorize your content or your business listing for ease of finding. For example, a landscaping company may tag their listing as “landscaping” and “lawncare” so that people searching for those services will come across them.
Reviews on your listing can be both metaphorical and literal money-makers! They prove to the people looking up your business that other people are actually engaging with you. This seems obvious, but it’s extremely helpful. You want to make sure that your business and business listing are recognized as legitimate, active, and not spam content.
Positive reviews prove to potential customers and search engines that your business is real and that the work you do is worthwhile. The more, the better. And make sure that you’re interacting with your reviews too. If you take the time to thank someone for a positive review, or reach out to someone who’s made a negative one to try and fix it, new customers will see that you are someone they can trust.
Photos work much the same way as reviews on your directory listing. They offer visual proof that your business exists, or that your products and services work. Photos also encourage potential customers to click through your listing. If your listing is strong and sparks their curiosity, they’ll want to look at as much information as you can provide them, and who doesn’t like looking at pretty photographs?
It’s not enough to say what industry your business is in, and move on. You’ve got to tell your potential customers what makes your business different from the rest! Don’t be shy, describe the value that your business provides and what makes you unique. This can also help you find the right tags and keywords for your business.
How about giving a small discount to first time customers, or a recurring offer to thank your customers who found you in your directory? A coupon is a great way to encourage interaction between your business and a person who comes across your listing.
Trust is a staple to have in any business relationship, so it should come as no surprise that you want your directory presence to enhance your business’ trustworthiness.There are a couple ways to make your listing do just that:
We’ve already talked about making your business trustworthy, and that becomes incredibly important when talking about SEO. You need to have consistent information across your web platforms to show search engines that your business is legitimate, trustworthy, and reliable. The first step is to make sure that your listing is consistent and the information is formatted the same way as it appears on your website, social media, and elsewhere. The more consistent your information is, the more likely it is that search engines will like you.
Directories also prove to search engines that your business is worth talking about. The more legitimate places you put your business online, the more popular search engines will think it is, and the more likely it is that they’ll further promote you. And aside from putting your name out there, you can also have others do it for you. Ever heard of a backlink? This is when someone creates a link from their web presence to your business’ website or listing, perhaps on their blog or in a review. Backlinks verify that other people are talking about your business, and that your business is relevant.
The more trustworthy, relevant, and popular your business seems to a search engine, the better it will be ranked, and the higher chance it will have of being found at the top of search results.
Directories are a helpful tool to list your business online. They help your business become easier to find and more legitimate in the eyes of potential customers and search engines.
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