Digital Directories—One of the Best Solutions for Small and Local Businesses Getting Lost In Search Results
With an overwhelming amount of websites on the Internet, it can be difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to stand out in search results. To maximize their impact, small to mid-sized organizations must be strategic in how they allocate their digital marketing resources.
Focusing on an area, niche, or target audience that aligns with your company’s services is one of the key components of a successful online marketing strategy. This helps ensure you are investing in effective outreach and connecting with individuals who will find value in what you have to offer—rather than getting lost among the vast ocean of information.
For example, if your business specializes in services local to Colorado or based in the Western United States, reaching individuals in Belarus or Saudi Arabia is most likely a meaningless endeavor. Instead, it would be more advantageous for your business to tap into niche communities and develop a more localized approach.
By identifying where your products or services are most in demand, your business will be able to reach new consumers, provide greater value, and build a lasting impression. Leveraging online directories is one of the most effective strategies for maximizing your online presence and competing in the ever-expanding digital landscape.
What is an Online Business Directory?
An online business directory (also known as a web or digital directory) is a convenient tool that allows customers to locate what they need in one convenient place. Most digital directories will provide standard information about a business name, address, contact information, website, and hours of operation.
Since directories often consist of multiple listings, users can easily find, compare, and contact businesses from virtually any industry around the world. Different directories often have specialized purposes; some feature businesses that can accommodate a broader, more globalized audience while others focus on niche industries or those located within a specific geographic area. The latter are also known as local business directories.
What is a Local Business Directory?
Resembling a more advanced version of the traditional Yellow Pages® book, online local business directories consist of listings specific to a city, county, or geographic region. They typically feature up-to-date information about a business, including its contact, website, consumer reviews, exclusive offers, etc.
For many consumers, digital local directories provide a great resource for discovering hidden gems and the best services near them. Did you know that a staggering 78% of local mobile searches lead to an offline conversion—a phone call, a purchase, or an in-person visit to the business? Take a look at the infographics with 2023 marketing data below—some of the growth rates are truly staggering.
Listing Your Business in Local Online Directories
For businesses looking to establish a stronger online presence, local business directory listings are more important now than ever before. By getting your website(s) listed in the right directories, you are helping search engines gain a better insight into what your business has to offer, and in turn, gaining greater site visibility and rankings in search results. With improved search visibility, your website can reach more consumers and convert them into committed customers.
Benefits of Listing Your Website to Local Directories
- Amplifies online visibility and establishes a strong digital presence for your business
- Improves your site optimization, expanding your discoverability in local search engine results
- Increases traffic to your website, business, or social media platforms, leading to more conversions, purchases, and ultimately, revenue
- Reduces cost, time, and effort spent on PPC (paid-per-click), CPC (cost-per-click), or other types of paid ads
- Most directory listings provide sections for reviews, an invaluable tool for reinforcing your business as reputable, credible, and trustworthy in the eyes of potential consumers
Although Google has been shifting its search engine to prioritize localized search results, up to 58% of SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) currently do not recognize the value of a quality local SEO strategy. Quality local optimization services can provide your business a major advantage over your competitors and unlock countless opportunities in a crowded digital marketplace.
Some of the Best Directories for Local SEO
Yelp for Business
Bing Places for Business
SuperPages, DexKnows, DNB, & More Databases
Since I Founded My Small Business Years Ago, I’ve Gone Through Multiple Different Marketing Companies. Where Do I Begin?
For those of us who have been operating our businesses for many years, it may be difficult to track down how many digital directories already have our organizations listed. Nevertheless, we should take proactive measures by reclaiming, refreshing, or updating our old business directory listings. Outdated business listings, incorrect information, or an inconsistent NAP (name-address-phone number) can lead to negative consequences for how you rank in search engines and plummet the overall performance of your website.
Keeping your business information up-to-date and accurate is key to maintaining a strong presence in the search engine landscape. Regardless of whether your business exists in multiple online directories or you are new to the concept of digital directories, here are some best practices and steps you can take to ensure accuracy.
1. Old Business Directory Listings
Compile a short list of all the past marketing companies, employees, or technologies you have used to manage your online business listings. If you have the resources, we encourage you to reach out and contact these companies, organizations, or individuals. Inform them that you are reclaiming or updating your business listings, and ask them to send you any information that can potentially be of use.
For example, if your password reset or confirmation email address is still being inadvertently sent to their organization, ask them if they can help set up a tool that will automatically forward these emails to you. Even if you have lost contact with these companies or former employees, or worse, currently have an antagonistic relationship with them, this information is still valuable for your business records.
Depending on the situation, you may be rightfully entitled to access your own business information! Try to refrain from registering for new business listings if you know you have old, potential duplicates out there—duplicate business listings can easily confuse Google and most other search engines.
2. Assign Your Business Listings to a Single Administrator Account or Email Address
If you have used multiple marketing companies or employees to manage your listings in the past, one of the most tedious challenges of reclamation is determining which administrator or email address each listing is associated with.
Going forwards, we recommend assigning a single email address to effectively manage all your business directories—old or new. You can also consider using an email address administered by your IT team, preferably through your business domain. Taking these proactive steps now will allow you to easily reclaim any lost or forgotten email addresses and business listings in the future.
3. Ensure NAP (Name-Address-Phone) Consistency for All Your Local Online Directories
Consistency is a key component of your branding and online business presence—this includes NAP consistency. NAP is an acronym for a business’s name, address, and phone number. While it may initially seem irrelevant, NAP consistency is crucial for your website rankings, especially for location-based businesses.
Keep your NAP consistent across all of your online business listings, directories, websites, and social media profiles. Consistent, up-to-date information not only helps customers discover your business but also enables search engine algorithms to efficiently locate, rank, and showcase your site.
More Local Directories for SEO
Our digital society is inextricably interconnected, and fine-tuning the way we present information to search engines can drastically boost our business visibility in key online rankings.
If you’re on board with getting your business optimized for local SEO but aren’t sure where to begin, Blue Zenith can help. Visit our local SEO services page to learn more about how we can help you develop a customized SEO strategy to grow your business.
Read Our Local SEO Content Strategy Series
This blog is the first in a series of articles about local SEO content strategies for small businesses. Read the entire series by clicking through the links below.