Directory listings are mentions of your business in online business directories.
Some well known general online business directories are Manta.com, Yellow Pages.com, Insiderpages.com, MerchantCircle.com and Yelp. Each of the major search engines have their own local directories such as Google Places, Yahoo local, and Bing. There are many others.
More Directory Listings
Within your business niche, you will find many other micro niche directories, for example in the real estate niche, you can set up a profile of your business in hundreds of sub-directories.
Most directories offer you a chance to claim a basic listing in their directory for free. Then, if you want to enhance your listing, you have to pay for it. I don’t recommend that my clients pay for any of their directory listings.
What do you get out of a free directory listing?
It varies from site to site, but many of them offer you a chance to list your address, phone number, email address, and website. Some directories (such as insider pages) allow you to hyperlink back to your website for certain keywords specific to your business – this is great!
Merchant Circle lets you upload a photo and even add a blog post. Some directories allow you to add coupons.
What is the benefit of these directory listings?
Here’s why directory listings are so great for your small business:
1. Backlinks. Any directory that lets you put your website in the listing is an opportunity for you to create a backlink to your site. Backlinks are the key to long term SEO domination in organic search results. You want as many backlinks as you can get.
2. Citations. A citation is a mention of your business and contact info somewhere on the internet. Each time you list your small business in a directory, you get another citation.
3. Directories Rank In Search Results. You might notice that for certain local searches you perform, you get a variety of different results that not only include Google Places listings, but also include various directories, such as the example at right for one of my favorite searches – “Portland sushi”.
Notice how the local restaurant results are interrupted by the directory listings for Yelp and Urban Spoon. Each of us searches differently – some will go to the websites of the restaurants to see which is the most appealing, or perhaps closest to their neighborhood. Others like to see a listing of restaurants and compare them by reading user reviews.
If I had a sushi restaurant as a client, I’d make sure they got listed in all of the top directories that were relevant to their keywords.
4. Set Yourself Apart. Most online directories “pull” their basic lists from other authority sites such as DMOZ, InfoUSA or UBL.org. When you go to claim your listing, you will see that your listing is the same as everyone elses – name, phone, website. But each directory is different in what they offer. Remember the example of Merchant Circle above? Some directories allow you to add categories for your business, a description, and coupons. But these fields do not get populated until you claim your listing. So, if you take the time to “pimp” your listing a bit, you will stand out significantly compared to your competition.
Who would you rather do business with – a business that has just fulfilled the minimum requirement, or a business that has taken the time to give you quality information about what they do?
One more reason it’s a good idea to have a complete listing is because the ultimate authority – Google – loooooves information. Having complete, consistent directory listings can help your rankings in Google Places.
5. Lead Generation. Depending on your business niche, some directories will even send you leads that you can bid on or follow up on. I found a life coaching directory for my fitness coaching client, Nick Husin and it sends him up to 5 leads per day of folks who want coaching. While Nick is not a life coach, he does help people transform their bodies using P90X. Several of the leads he gets are from people who want to lose weight or gain muscle.
What directory listings should I submit to?
With so many directories available to you, you could literally spend hundreds of hours seeking them out, claiming your business, and “pimping” out your listing. I’m betting you don’t have that kind of time and even if you did, you’d probably tire from the mundane work of directory listings submission pretty quickly.
Thankfully, there are a few “big dogs” that are running the show. These are the aggregate directories that most everyone else updates from. If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, here is what you do:
- Submit your business to UBL.org. For $39.99, you get your basic info listed with one of the top aggregate directories around.
- DMOZ.org – DMOZ is tough to get into, but well worth the effort. Having your business listed in DMOZ can really help your site rank organically.
- InfoUSA – You’re probably already listed with them, since they are a national powerhouse in the business of selling business lists. Check to make sure all your info is correct, for example if you have changed your phone number, moved your business, or changed your business name.
- Google Places – I provide do-it-yourself information for ranking your business in Google Places.
- Yahoo local & Bing Business – I’ve read that Yahoo offers a one-time premium directory listing for $350 that is well-worth the price; however I have never done it. You’d have to make your own judgement. At a minimum, claim your local business directory listings in Yahoo! and Bing.
Following the steps above are the basic minimum for any small business owner who is serious about having their website serve as a lead generation tool. As mentioned, “pimping” out your listings will put some space between you and the competition. Searching out micro-niche directories will give you a commanding lead over businesses who do nothing at all.
How I Do Micro Niche Directory Listings Research
A micro niche directory is one that is specific to a particular industry, such as a directory that only includes doctors or restaurants or realtors.
When I begin work for a new local SEO client, I perform competitive research by doing several Google searches for a variety of the keywords we hope to rank for. In the search results, I often find a handful of micro niche directories specific to my client’s industry. Remember, some people like to use directories to help them compare businesses and decide who to choose. You can do this research yourself and get yourself listed, usually for free.
To DIY or Not To DIY
With directory listings, it all comes down to how much time you want to spend on the work. Most small businesses don’t have the time (or patience) and that’s why they hire me. I can offer you a complete search engine optimization program that will help your site get ranked highly in Google, bringing you (and not your competitors) a lot of new visitors. An SEO package with lots of quality directory listings and keyword rich anchor text backlinks can significantly boost your site’s traffic and help you get more leads.
Send me an email or give me a call to see how much a monthly SEO program can help your small business.