Online marketing is the keystone of any business in the digital age.
The era of older marketing tools and channels, such as print, TV, radio, and other offline media, is mostly over. Today, an overwhelming number of consumers turn to resources on the Internet to find and choose great local businesses.
One of the most effective strategies for building your business presence online is by claiming, building, and managing your business listing on online business directories, local listings, and online review sites.
Doing so helps your business get found more easily in local search results, and provides opportunities to increase your exposure and drive conversions.
You’ll also like: “Top 9 Reasons to Claim Your Business Listings and Review Site Pages”
Some directories and business listings are relied on and trusted more than others, making it important to know the difference between quality local listing sites and just another run-of-the-mill online business directory.
If you need help separating the wheat from the chaff, here’s some quick and dirty facts that will help you choose the local directory for your needs.
It’s Not Always Quantity over Quality
Most local search optimization experts will stress the importance of sowing your seeds in a wide arc. There are literally dozens of online directories out there, almost all of them free to use, where you can get your business listed.
Simply provide your name, address, and phone number (NAP) and a website address and you’re off to the races, right?
Not necessarily. The truth is that not every online directory is created equal. Many are highly specialized and adept at returning local results to prospective customers looking for specific businesses in their area, but more than a few take a less targeted approach, instead relying on a more spammy “shotgun blast” style, peppering search results with excessive, inaccurate, or inappropriate businesses for a specific search.
What good is it if someone across the state, or even across the country, sees your business name come up in a local search?
Unless you do a brisk online or mail-order business, you’re looking for prospective customers within a certain mile radius. These types of online directories – the ones that claim to provide local results but then don’t deliver – only frustrate consumers. This makes listing your company on these types of directories largely useless and even detrimental to your business.
Make Google a Priority
That being said, there are a number of directories and listing sites that are truly capable of providing high-conversion local search results. The majority of these sites have been studied by marketers and SEO experts alike, proving their worth in terms of the number of visitors that use them to find local businesses.
The biggest, best, and most effective choice will always be Google. While it might have started as a search engine and not as a local listing resource, Google has developed over the years, branching out into bigger and better things while also providing better local search results.
Listing your business on Google is fast and easy. The free Google My Business service that the company provides enters your NAP and website so that your business information is displayed across search results and Google Maps.
The Google ecosystem is especially helpful as a local search option, as business owners can add photographs, opening and closing hours, and details of the products and services offered at a particular location. Additionally, users can provide feedback and leave reviews for your place of business, allowing you to showcase and manage your company’s customer experience levels.
Read our guide on how to claim your business on Google.
Business Directories and Local Listings to Focus On
While Google holds the most sway in online searches – especially local searches – you never want to put all of your eggs in one basket. That’s why knowing which other online directories are good for local search listings is paramount.
Independent research agrees that when it comes to local listings, there are plenty of great directories on which to be listed. Some of the most repeatedly well-ranked listing and review sites include Yelp, YP.com, TripAdvisor, and competing search engines like Bing and Yahoo, while many industry experts also recommend social media sites like Facebook, thanks to its recent push into providing location-based services and Facebook reviews and ratings.
When choosing additional local listing resources, it’s beneficial to keep in mind those that offer the opportunity to display detailed information about your business.
For example, an Italian restaurant that has a full menu posted online is going to attract more traffic than one that just has its NAP listed. Likewise, listing services that provide opportunities for consumers to leave feedback and reviews are much more valuable than stripped-down directory listings.
The Internet has revolutionized life in the digital age, putting the sights and sounds of everywhere in the world at our fingertips. We can watch the sun set into Tokyo Bay, listen to a chamber ensemble performing in Vienna, video chat with a friend from Buenos Aires, and peruse NASA’s collection of images taken from the International Space Station all within the course of just 15 minutes.
That being said, we’re still highly connected to our local communities. We all work, play, go to school, and raise our children in the real world, and sometimes we need to know what’s around the corner without having to walk down the block first.
Local search makes that easier. For businesses, using the right kinds of online local directories makes it easy for consumers to find what they need, when they need it.