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Online Directories: How They Help Your Local Business Get Found

How Online Directories Help Your Business Get Found

What is an Online Directory?

An online directory is a submission-based online service.

You secure your entry by “claiming” your listing. Typically they are free, or free to start with a paid option unlocking more features for your listing. Typical information listed include a company’s name,  address, phone number, hours of operation, website, social media accounts, a short description of what the company does, photos and a listing of products and services sold.

Online directories are also referred to as “citations” or citation sites.

Forget Online Directories, I’ll Just Search Google

Many people may not be as familiar with directories as they are with Google. When I suggest they should consider listing their business in directories they often wonder why to bother as they and their customers mostly use Google to search companies and services they are looking for.

Here’s the connection. Google and Bing and Yahoo and the other search engines rely on the information you put on your website (both in the technical backend and as content such as blogs), what companies have linked to your site, what the online reviews say about your business, and what is listed about your company in online directories. Google pulls information from online directories to help decide what to show up in search results. So if you’re able to show up in multiple directories with accurate information, it gives Google a positive signal about your business and is another data point to help Google show you in the search results.

Think of this as a strategy for your online marketing rather than trying to get your head around why more people would search your business on HotFrog than on Google.

But My Business is “More Serious” Than a Local Pizza Shop

Whether you sell to businesses (B2B) rather than walk-in customers is irrelevant. Online directories help give Google another online signal that you exist.

Whether your sales cycle is long or your prices high or your buyer is of the executive type, it doesn’t matter. Your potential customer will most likely start their journey for the product/service/questions they need answers to by doing an online search. They’ll probably use Google.

I’m betting you’d like your products/services/excellent-blog-that-answers-the-questions-they-have to come up in that online search a potential customer just did, correct? In order for that to happen, you need to give Google/Bing/Yahoo all the help they need to put you into the search results.

Stop thinking about local business as just the local pizza shop or hair salon. If you do executive training for large companies and only serve the C-suite, yet deliver your services in your city, you are a local business and you can benefit from listing your company in online directories.

This article from Duct Tape Marketing and this one on local citations from Moz.com both explain further why local directories are important for your business.

Essential Online Directories

If you’re ready to start, the major one you’ll want to claim right now is your Google My Business Listing. Others to consider are Yelp, 411.ca etc. If you’re a member of any local business group – add your details to their directory. You’ll want to have your Name, Address and Phone number correct and exact on all listings. This is referred to as your NAP.

By “correct and exact” what I mean is that if your business is located at 123 Main Street West, this is how you need to list it on your website and on all the directory listings you claim. Even the slightest change of entering your address as 123 Main St. West and then 123 Main St. W., will give Google the signal that this isn’t the same business. Google will see it as three different businesses, won’t know which to serve up in the search results and will serve up your competition instead.

From here, it is simply a data entry exercise to complete each entry. You’ll want to have information about your company appear correct and exact on each listing. The type of content you’ll want to have easily accessible before you start claiming your listings include:

  • Social Media Links: Include links to all valid and updated social media pages.
  • Business Descriptions: A unique and intriguing description of who your business is and what service you provide helps answer any questions a viewer may have about your company. Include your keywords.
  • Contact Email: Sometimes in the midst of social media madness, we forget the most convenient and accessible way for interested persons to contact a business: email. Ensure you always include a valid email address in your business listing for a quick contact method.
  • Images: Company logo, a photo of your building, team photos, leadership team, product photos – have these handy and named using keyword descriptions.

Last but not least, be sure to keep a record of the online directories you claim and update your listing if there is a company move, a change of name or change of office hours.

Photo credit: GetListed.org

Jen Kelly New Initiatives Marketing Inc.


Jen Kelly
is a marketing consultant in Toronto running New Initiatives Marketing Inc. (NIM) serving clients in Canada and the USA. NIM is the team to call for marketing execution excellence. Contact us today for a no-obligation conversation about how getting your online directory listings right can help your company.

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