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.
A survey in the United Kingdom shows that approximately 20 million local customers each month is turning to online business directories to search for local products, services, or businesses. The behavior of local consumers is changing. Clearly print directories are no longer working for local consumers; they’re switching to an online business directory for faster, better, and detailed search result. The limited information on a yellow page is fast becoming obsolete against the more detailed local search engine marketing tools like local business directories. These directories can list not just the description of your business but also your business’ opening hours, price listings, location map, and even your photo or your office or store photo.
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 UK 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. Do either of these to rank your business listing:
a) Ask your existing, loyal customers to go online and leave a positive review about your business;
b) Participate with communities on directories and encourage them to visit and test your business or organize an ‘event’ at your office, shop, or store just for them.
Never try to ‘bribe’ people to review your business, though, as this can backfire on you and can generate lots of negative comments which you don’t want (obviously!).
Online business directories offer a great opportunity for all types of local businesses to win new customers. The process of updating and managing your business listings across multiple online directories is very time consuming. In business, time is money and you can save both using a multi-directory listing service such as DirectoryRunner from BrightLocal.com. DirectoryRunner allows you to manage and update all your online directory listings in 1-place.