Many small business owners know about online business directories, but aren’t quite clear on how advantageous they are to their business. Online directories are not just a digital version of the Yellow Pages, where you have to fish through information and flip through pages to find what you’re looking for. They are comprehensive platforms that enable users to instantly identify, learn about, and contact businesses relevant to them. Online business directory listings can work wonders for your small business. This post will familiarize you with online business directories and the specific ways they benefit small businesses.
Types of Online Business Directories
An online business directory refers to any online database that connects users with relevant businesses. Directories contain a diverse range of information on each business, however some may have a primary focus. Some of the more specific focuses of an online directory might be to:
• Provide accurate customer reviews
• Enable side-by-side comparisons
• Use GPS and social media data to provide real-time results
• Focus on a specific niche or industry
Online business directories can take the form of a website, app, and/or other platform. They exist on the web, social media platforms, smart phones, and even on specific devices.
The Cost of Business Directories
There are many online directories for which listing your business is free. Some are free but require additional payment for special features, such as multiple locations or categories, including a website link or call to action, removing ads from your listing, or adding photos and video.
Benefits of Online Business Directories
Some small business owners mistake online directories as massive databases where their listing will just get lost in the shuffle. The truth is, these platforms have significant benefits for small businesses. Here are eight:
1. Amplify Your Online Presence
If you search for your business name on the internet, you will likely see your business show up in directories for which you never submitted a listing. This is because many business directories today pull from other larger directories and automatically create listings.
This means that getting listed in one directed usually means getting listed in several more, allowing you to kill two (or more) birds with one stone. On the flip side, sometimes the information doesn’t transfer over properly. It’s very important to check, claim, and update your listings frequently and regularly.
2. Improve Your Local Visibility
Though they are massive, online business directories have advanced filtering and suggesting capabilities, and serve to connect you with your target audience. As a local business, directories are beneficial because they make your business visible to your local community.
3. Get Discovered More
The typical online business directory allows users to search by specific criteria, such as service, location, and category. By simply entering complete and accurate information in your listing, the directory will then connect your business to the people searching for it, even if they don’t search your business name explicitly. This is highly beneficial because oftentimes, people don’t know to search a specific business name or the specific service they need.
4. Use Word of Mouth
Most online business directories have a customer review component, as word of mouth has always been a trusted source for consumers. With real time and sharing capabilities of mobile devices, customers can now publish reviews more quickly—even during their experience. People seek out and trust online customer reviews today more than ever, so get listed in online business directories and you’ll be placed in a direct channel to your target audience.
5. Strengthen Your Business Reputation
The fear of negative reviews prevents many businesses from getting listed online, but this shuts them off from getting positive reviews too, which are essential for a good reputation. As long as you know how to properly handle one, the cost of one negative review is outweighed by the benefit of many positive reviews. Plus, a mix of reviews can even strengthen your reputation, as it shows that you are a genuine and healthy company that has nothing to hide.
6. Increase Brand Awareness
When a user performs a search in an online business directory, it will display a list of relevant results, each with a brief snapshot so that you can decide which one to click on to learn more. This means that even if a user doesn’t click on your listing, they still see your business. Every encounter a person has with your business increases their awareness and familiarity with your brand, which warms them up for further engagement.
7. Boost Your SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of providing your web content in such a way that search engines will favor it and rank it higher in results for applicable searches. A search engine wants to be trusted by its users, so the more information it can obtain about your website, and the more consistent that information is, the better you will rank. Online business listings are a great way to support and supplement your already existing information to give it that extra validation.
8. Show Up on Google
It is possible to get on the first page of Google through SEO practices, but it can take a few months to start seeing results. Online business directory sites, on the other hand, have been around for a while, have high amounts of traffic, and are for the most part trusted by search engines. Since Google likes these characteristics, its first page of search results regularly contain pages from online directories. If you get listed in an online business directory, you have a chance of benefitting from their well-established SEO and showing up on the first page of Google.
Online business directories have immense benefits, and neglecting them can actually hurt your business. So get started today with creating, claiming, and updating your listings online.