Local business listings also referred to as online directories, have been around for quite some time. As it happens with any other digital marketing channel, business owners start to re-evaluate whether or not they are still worth it.

The answer is, of course!

Local business directories can serve as a great addition to your overall digital marketing strategy. There are numerous ways in which small businesses can benefit from online listings. If you are a business owner and have not looked into how you can leverage this marketing medium, now is the time to start. Below is a comprehensive guide on everything that you need to know about local business listings.

What Are Local Business Directories/Listings?

A Local business listing is an online profile, which details your business name, address, phone number (NAP) and other relevant information. Online directories are website submission services that allow small business websites to be included in specific categories where interested users can search for them. Many distinct types of online directories are available on the Internet. Each type serves a specific purpose, and your business can benefit from them in specific ways.

Overall, local listings make it easy for internet users to find what they are looking for. Every website submitted to a business listing is placed in a certain category. The categories may range in their organizational profile. Some are organized according to industry, some according to personal preferences and others according to the subject matter.

Every category consists of a number of websites that are related to a specific topic. Each business listing features the website’s name, a URL linking to it and a brief description of the website. As such, Internet users can browse the categories in the directories and easily locate websites like yours.

Why Your Business Should Be Listed in Online Directories

In today’s competitive online world, there are many benefits of having your business listed in multiple directories. Below are some benefits that you will see when using online business listings.

1. More Business Exposure

As a local business owner, getting as much exposure as possible should be one of your main marketing goals. After all, the more exposure your business gets, the more potential consumers you are reaching. Many potential customers use the Internet to access local information.

With business directories, you are able to reach out to the targets with the knowledge that they are more likely to convert. As such, it makes sense to register your business to connect with customers who can search for you online, based on the business type and location they choose.

Very many business owners put a great deal of work into developing great websites in order to rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs). These SEO efforts are aimed at making more customers learn about their business. While the website work is very important, online business listings will complement your website and have your business’ name in the face of many more potential customers.

2. Increases Traffic to Your Website

Increased business exposure goes hand in hand with increased user traffic. When a potential client encounters your business’ name and details in an online directory, there is a good chance that they will visit the website to learn more about your products or services. In addition, there are very many links in business directories that point directly back to your business’ website. This increases the SERP ranking for your website.

The higher a website appears on search engine results, the more likelihood that even more users will visit the site and ramp up the traffic numbers. This has a cyclical effect that is beneficial to your overall SEO goals. One of the metrics that search engines such as Google use to rank websites today is user traffic. This means that the extra traffic will ensure that your website ranks even higher.

3. Make Your Business Appear More Professional

At first glance, many consumers are usually wary of businesses that they find online. After they do some initial research and ensure that the business has an actual address, contact information, a professional-looking website, they will start to trust the business. At this point, they may consider the business for the products or services that they need.

Online business listings offer all of this. Visitors can see at first glance that a business is legitimate. They know that if they opt to deal with the business, the whole interaction will be entirely professional. Online business directories are widely considered to be among the most reputable websites on the Internet. This is because they have thorough measures in place to verify each listed business and ensure their legitimacy.

Today’s consumers know this. That is why the first place they will go to learn about a certain local business, products or services are online directories. Therefore if you want people to take your business seriously, you have to be present in these listings.

4. Cost Effective Advertising

Just like all business owners seek extra exposure, all business owners would gladly engage in more advertising if they had the budget to do so. Unfortunately, many businesses today operate on very tight budgets and advertising is among the functions that suffer. Luckily, having your business listed in online directories can offer you free advertising.

Every online listing or citation promotes your business name and increases brand recognition each time potential clients or visitor sees it. While not all online business directories are free, the ones that do charge have minimal fees. These paid business directories do come with even more features and the ability to reach even more potential clients. This makes online listings a much more affordable form of advertising than say purchasing a radio or TV spot.

5. Increase Your Revenue

All the aforementioned benefits of local business directories do one thing for your business. They drive more consumers to your website and significantly increase the chances that they will make a purchase from your business. This works through targeted advertising. Online listings are an effective method of directly targeting high quality leads.

A large percentage of online purchases made by consumers start from online listings. This means that a consumer first searched for a brand, product or service, found a business through a directory, and then proceeded to make a purchase. Therefore, while there are many advantages that come with online directories, it all comes down to increased revenue for the business.

Best Practices for Local Business Listings

As a business, the whole point of having an online presence is to entice consumers into your store or leasing office so you can convert them to paying customers. Nothing is more frustrating than customers finding out that they have the wrong information about a local business. As such, there are some best practices that you need to implement to ensure your local business listings are effective.

1. Always Include Hours of Operation

Hours of operation may seem like one of those trivial things. However, this is the most important piece of information that Internet users look for in business listings. It makes perfect sense since their local search is likely for a business that they will visit frequently.

Not including hours of operation can be a deal breaker. It does not give a great impression if a new customer does not know when to pop in. Imagine a client ready to spend his money in the store, shows up on Monday at 7 p.m. only to find the store closed.

2. Consistency in NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number)

NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) is very important when it comes to online business listings. Having any kind of confusion in this information can wreak havoc on your efforts to make business listings. When listing in directories, ensure that the business name appears exactly as it does on letterheads, business cards and other documents that your business uses.

Your business location also has to be correct and appear exactly the same across all your online listings. To a human, treet’ and t.’ are the same thing but they may mean different things to a computer bot. Always use the local phone number for the specific business location. Never use toll-free, marketing tracking and call center numbers for local listings.

3. Your Website Still Functions as a First Impression

Your online business listings should be fulsome, accurate, consistent and be reflective of your business’ website. Any directory listing should be linked to the business’ website and convey the exact same information, but more. A website should be enough to entice customers, but existing inconsistencies slowly erodes trust and confidence in your business.

4. Making the Listings

Start by selecting local directories that are niche-specific. For instance, if you operate a garage in Phoenix, find a local Phoenix business listing and a listing related to car repairs/parts. Once you are present in local directories, you can go for larger, more generalized directories.

A good practice is to go for directories that allow for additional interactive features such as photos and maps. Always keep professional and consistent with your listings and message. This includes any other information regarding your brand.

Overall, local business directories help categorize websites, link websites, increase traffic, boost SEO and help business websites stand out to consumers. This is an online marketing medium that suits all business types and is an important step to ensuring longevity in search engine ranking authority.

Now that you have learned about Local Listings, if you are interested in correcting your listings NAP or information, check out our local listing submission services by clicking here!