As a busy small business owner, it can be frustrating trying to find the time to negotiate the complexities of search engine optimisation (SEO) algorithms in order to ensure your business appears on search results pages, which then hopefully tempts searchers to follow through and click onto your site. While the internet giants do offer some very helpful business portals, many small businesses are more comfortable using a bespoke online business directory which relates directly to their location and / or business offering. Successfully attracting custom this way also has the effect of improving your rankings, as well as growing revenue by helping customers find your business.
In digital marketing parlance, having your business listed in online directory listings is in an effort to build citations. A citation is every occasion that your company name and website appears on a search results page which is directly applicable to your business; i.e. somebody searched for the products and / or services you provide, possibly in your locality, and your details were cited on a search results page. Although the principle is exactly the same as traditional paper based searches in bulky directories, in today’s online world, every time your business gets noticed by a potential customer, this also gets noticed by the internet.
At their most basic level, online listings consist of your company’s NAP; name, addresses (postcode and website URL) and phone number. Although it’s possible to list your NAP with a large number of online directories, this is counterproductive. Google and other search engines will see this as spamming, as it’s likely that most of those directories will not result in clicks for your website. For this reason, it pays to stick to reputable directories. These themselves are easy to find using Google, and you can double check by seeing which ones your competitors use.
Of course, online directories themselves are in competition with each other, so each will differ slightly; however, you can be sure that all will require the following details to get you started and listed:
NAP (name, addresses, postcode), as described above. It’s very important to be consistent here, using exactly the same words, even usage of capital letters.
Link. Directories will ask for a website URL, which is your company site. This is known as a backlink, and every time a user clicks it from the search engine results page, that engine will record it and add to a number which it appends to your link. This keeps score of how many clicks you get as a result of your listing, and is used to apply your site’s ranking.
Business description. This is obviously extremely important, especially as some business names do not include what actual products or services they provide. A succinct, short description will actually appear when a user hovers over your search result; even this results in an improved ranking score, as search engines record hovers as well as clicks.
Multimedia. It is sometimes possible to upload images and even short videos to your listing, even at the initial free level of registration. More in depth multimedia will usually be available for a premium.
Getting Started With Online Directories
As a newcomer to digital marketing, usually the best way to find your feet is by using listing services provided by the internet giants. This will get you used to the kind of things directories will ask for, and help you think about composing a description, taking photographs of products or personnel etc. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly interest comes your way, which will encourage you to hone in on more specialised directories, which drive custom by listing and searching either by product type or physical location.
As a starting point, you should at least ensure your business is listed on these social media and search engine sites:
- Apple Maps
- Google My Business – results on main pages and also Google Maps
- LinkedIn Company directory
- Bing – Microsoft’s search engine which is often overlooked
- Yell – the site which used to be Yellow Pages
- Yahoo Local