An online local directory is a website that lists businesses, usually within categories. These directories allow business owners to list their business, get their name in front of the customers, and give customers the information they need to contact the business. It also narrows the World Wide Web down to local communities and places, and makes local businesses more accessible to the customers that use them.
The details provided in an online listing will vary from business to business and from directory to directory. Typical information includes:
The business name
Product or service sold
Number of employees
The area the business services
Professional associations the business belongs to
Reviews, comments, and feedback (on some sites)
Are online local directories the same as search engines?
Online local directories often have a search function within them. This makes it easier for users to quickly find the business they’re looking for, without having to search through thousands of listings. However, this does not make these directories search engines.
Search engines can find just about any information you need and provide in-depth articles, pictures, and blog posts about very specific topics. Search engines list the actual URLs to websites and will take you directly to them. Online local directories will provide users with many different results, but each of those results will only be a business listing including very basic information.
Search engines will also pick up on the various web pages on a website, giving each a different page ranking dependent on things such as keywords and traffic numbers. Online local directories, on the other hand, will provide only one URL, and it’s typically only to the home page of the website.
The way in which local directories and search engines work behind the scenes also distinguish the two. Online directories use people to manually review, proofread and approve each listing. Search engines on the other hand, because they’re dealing with so much more information, must rely on highly complex computer-generated indexes that determine which information is displayed.
Why is it important that my business be listed in an online local directory?
According to a study conducted by Burke, 8 out of 10 shoppers will use an online directory to guide them in the direction of where to go for whatever product or service they are looking for.
Of that group, 8 out of 10 shoppers who used a directory to find what they needed will end up buying something now or in the future from the business they found within the directory.
This is why it’s so important to have your business listed in an online directory. If customers are already using online directories, they already have a need for your business or service. And if your business isn’t listed in an online directory, the chances are good that the competition will be, and customers will turn to them instead of you.
This is why it’s so important to be listed in online local directories – so customers can find you!
Can small businesses profit from using online local directories?
When thinking about using online local directories, many small businesses make the mistake of thinking it only works for huge companies. Companies like Costco that have several locations, sometimes within mere miles of each other. However, it’s really small businesses that will benefit the most from online directories. Remember that these directories focus on local businesses.
The intent is that it will bring customers to actual brick-and-mortar businesses that are located near them, meaning that small businesses have the most to profit from being listed. And if your business isn’t listed, there’s a good chance that your competitor’s is, and that customers will go to them instead of you.
Is it difficult to sign up to an online local directory
No! Signing up for a local directory usually just takes just a few minutes and is a simple process that includes only filling out some basic information about your company, then verifying that information via text, email, or phone.
Because business owners are often best served by registering with multiple online local directories, it can take some time, but it’s not difficult at all.
What are the best online local directories to use?
There are hundreds of online local directories, but your best bet is to find quality sites that will boost your page ranking and get your business in front of the eyes of the most customers. The top 15 online local directories are:
Google My Business
Aabaco Local Listings/LocalWorks (formerly Yahoo)
How can online directory listings boost traffic to my website?
Whenever your business, company, or company URL is listed on website, it helps boost your page ranking. And when that information is listed on an authoritative and established page such as Google My Business or Yellow Pages, Google uses that as an indicator that your website is also established and authoritative.
When you have your website URL listed on several of these authoritative websites, it has several different “votes” in the eyes of Google and the search engines. The more you have, the higher your website URL will appear within the search engine results.
Have enough and your website will even start to appear on the first page of search engine results, sending more and more traffic to your website.
How can online listings help me develop my business’ brand image?
When people think of online local directories, they often think of several typed lines of text indicating the business’ name, address, phone number, region serviced, and types of products or services sold. This is largely true, so how is a bunch of typed text going to help you develop your business’ brand image?
Easily. When you create a listing on an online local directory, you do more than just input your business’ contact information. Typically these sites always ask for a profile picture, which can be your business’ logo, which will help develop your brand image. Several sites also have separate sections for things such as photos and videos where you can upload commercials, YouTube videos about your products or services, and even just pictures from company events.
All of this will show your business through images that users will remember more easily, and they help develop your brand image
What is the difference between citations and links?
At this stage of the game, it’s pretty obvious when you see a link to a website. It typically includes a URL address or a name, is underlined, and is clickable, meaning that clicking on it will take you to a different page or website.
Citations on the other hand, are just mentions of your business. They mean that people are talking about your business, and that’s exactly what the search engines look for when calculating page rankings. It’s for this reason that citations are often considered to be more valuable than links. However, it’s important to know that not all local directories will allow citations.
Directories such as the Yellow Pages merely list the business’ information, while directories such as Trip Advisor and Facebook Pages allow interaction with the users and customers through reviews and comments.
You should always make sure that, along with listings-only directories, you’re also using directories that allow for citations and that direct interaction with your customers.