Business Directories: 4 Reasons Why Your Business Should be Included

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The days of thumbing through a phone book like the Yellow Pages to find a local business are over (at least for most people), and the age of online business directories has begun.

Whether your business is purely online or you run a small local outfit, online business directories have a role to play in your marketing strategy and can be a powerful tool for increasing your business’ reach.

This guide discusses the role of online business directories – how they work and some of the advantages they can offer to businesses. We also take a look at some of the differences between the various directories and offer some tips for getting the most out of one of the largest directories of all: Google Business.

Table of Contents

What is a business directory?

A business directory is a searchable online registry or index of businesses, where listings are grouped according to a category or type.

Business directories collate and present the key information of the businesses listed within the directory in a readily digestible format. The purpose of business directories is to provide the user base with the information they need to become aware of, contact, locate and otherwise interact with businesses.

The information shown in a directory regarding a given business will normally include the business name, address and contact details, opening hours, photos, inbound links to the business website, and directions. Depending on the directory, listings may also include user functions such as the option to review the business or share information about it on social media platforms such as Facebook.

While features and functions may very from directory to directory, the principal function of all business directories is essentially the same.

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How a business directory works

Online directories operate by receiving business listing submissions, usually from the business owner. This information is then listed in a searchable format.

The best way to capitalise on the benefits of business directories is to have a business listed on as many quality, relevant online directories as possible. The first thing to do is consider which directories are going to be suitable for a particular business. There is little value in listing a wedding dress business, for instance, on a directory that specialises in manual trades.

Once the appropriate online directories have been selected, a business should be registered with them. It is important to carefully select a suitable category for the business. Next, all of the business’ relevant data should be provided, including basic contact and address details, the website name and URL, plus a brief description of the website. Be sure to think about keywords that correctly describe the contents of the website — you’ll want to include these in your description.

Four advantages of being listed in a business directory

There are many advantages of having a business listed on an online business directory. Here are four of the most important.

  1. Visibility/Search Engine Optimisation
  2. Mobile optimisation
  3. Build your brand profile
  4. Inbound links

Top Local directories to get your business listed

As the name suggests, online local business directories focus on local businesses with a specific physical location. Generally speaking, local business directories only list small or medium-sized local businesses that service a specific, immediate location (such as a local hairdresser or plumber) and will not list businesses that exist solely online.

A local business directory may feature listings across a broad range of business categories, or may be concentrated within a specific industry niche. We discuss this distinction in more detail below.

Local directories compile and list local business information to make it easy for consumers to find local products and services, and to interact with the businesses that provide these.

Below is a list of some of the best and most effective local business directories:

The difference between a specific niche directory and generic multiple niche directories

Broadly speaking, online business directories take two forms:

  • General multiple niche directories – which include listings across a wide variety of business categories, not specific to any particular niche or industry (for example Google My Business);
  • Specific niche directories – which cater to a narrower range of business types specific to certain industries, niches, subjects (or sometimes regions). Niche directories may also specialise in targeting particular audiences or groups, such as other businesses. B2B business directories like Business Network are a good example of these.

There are advantages and disadvantages of each of type of directory, and a business should not necessarily choose only one type to be listed on.

General multiple niche directories like Google My Business garner a huge overall amount of traffic and — as discussed further below — are often the starting point for people searching for businesses online. Because of their size and reputation, they often rank highly in search results.

On the other hand, specific niche directories can generally lay claim to better expertise, as they focus on one or only a few specific areas. These directories might provide content or information pertinent to businesses in that particular industry, which a user wouldn’t find on a general business directory. Serious consumers are therefore more likely to place greater faith in specific niche directories over a broad directory that simply lists everything. For these reasons, specific niche directories can offer status and reputation that only comes with being listed in their database.

Also, while specific niche directories might receive less traffic overall, the quality of the traffic is often better. Internet users who search on specific niche directories are more likely to make a purchase (or have a specific need to fill), so the conversion rate is likely to be higher.

The importance of all these factors will vary depending on the business niche and type, and the behaviour of consumers in that industry. An industry-leading B2B directory that specialises in casting agencies, for example, might be the place for production companies to source casting agencies. In that case, production companies are likely to assume that all reputable casting agencies are listed there — if a company is not, it’s not worth talking to. In that instance, it might be far more important for a casting agency business to be listed on that directory rather than Google My Business.

The best advice, generally speaking, is that it is wise for businesses to take advantage of each type of business directory by ensuring they are listed on the big directories, as well as a few more specific niche directories relevant to their industry.

Google Business Profile

Image showing Google Maps
A Google profile will show you on maps

Google Business is the single largest online business directory and, in many ways, the most important. It regularly serves as the starting point for users searching for a business online. While it may not provide the detailed information that could be found on a specialised directory, it is very often the first port of call. For this reason, Google Business really is the first place to start for businesses entering the world of online business directories. Here we discuss how you can do just that.

To get started using Google Business, head to the website here.

Once there, you need to register your business by following these steps:

  1. Press the “Start now” button in the upper right corner.
    Start Google My Business
  2. You will then be prompted to log in to your Google account, which you will need to create if you do not already have one. Bear in mind that this is the account that will be associated with your business.
  3. Next, input the name of your business.
    Google My Business Name
  4. Next, enter the business address.
    Google My Business address
  5. You will then be prompted to confirm whether your business delivers goods and services to its customers, by checking a box.If you wish to keep the business address private (if, say, it is also your home address), select ‘Hide my address (it’s not a store) Show only the region’. You will then need to select the business’ delivery area.
  6. Next, you need to choose the activity category that best represents your business. This is an essential step, as it will suggest to Google where your listing can be shown for local searches and the kinds of customers that should see your listing. For that reason, it’s important to be precise and careful in your selection.
    Google My Business Category Business
  7. Now input the business contact details and website.
    Google My Business Details
  8. Finally, click the ‘Finish and Verify’ button.You will then need to select a verification option. Normally this needs to be done by post, in which case Google will send a postcard with a verification code to the business address. Other options are available but only for select businesses. Click the ‘Learn More’ button for more information.Alternatively, you can opt to verify the business later by clicking the button.
    Google My Business Verify

Google Business is a great way to increase your business profile and entice more people to visit your business. To do so, it’s important to ensure that your Google Business listing contains accurate and complete information. Ensure that basic information such as contact details, address and opening hours are correct and that any changes to your details are updated as soon as possible.
Google My Business Info

Adding more detail or content to your listing is also beneficial. Make sure your location is specific and include other content such as photos that improve the overall experience and understanding a user can gain from the listing.

Being active on the listing also helps. Keep a regular eye out for reviews left by users and ensure that you respond to them. Make sure you capitalise on positive reviews. This improves the overall customer experience and by extension, your listing’s popularity.

Conclusion

Online business directories are a key component of the marketing strategy for businesses. They improve a business’ overall visibility, enhance its performance on search engines, and serve to create a better experience for potential customers.

If a business is not taking advantage of these, it is surely missing out on reaching potential new clients and the greater return on investment that follows.

If you want to learn more or are ready to get your business out there, get in touch with us, and we can show you how to get the most out of online business directories to take your business to the next level.

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