A number of new clients have recently asked us whether it is beneficial to submit a website into as many online directories as possible. For some people directory submission is imperative. For instance, one time a prospective client was promised by someone that his website would be submitted to a 1000 different directories and needed us to match that or no go. You may ask how is that possible, how long will it take, and how much will it cost to submit a website to a 1000 different directories? That’s easy. It can be done by an automated online service that submits a website to a large number of directories for around $170-$200. Now, if you ask how effective it is for your website’s SEO to be submitted to a 1000 different online directories, I would say that this particular practice is outdated and its efficacy is questionable.
With the exception of some big brands and E-commerce stores that sell nationally and internationally, most websites are of small-scale and vice-versa they are owned by Mom and Pop scale businesses who target a local audience. The most important directories where a new or an existing website MUST be submitted are online local business directories. Besides the fact that these directories are for free, being listed in them is important for additional exposure as they are ranked very high from search engines. Some of them are even owned by search engines and they convey an element of trust. Users are familiar with services such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing and when search engines respond to a search query with a list of relevant results, users will trust it and click on the link which takes them to your business listing.
Most local business directories provide a full business profile. Among other things businesses can upload their logo, show hours of operation, contact info and a list of products and services. The directories that offer more flexibility and options will be discussed further as we go.
1. Google Local – It is the first and most important local directory that every website must be listed in.Google is the top search engine and blends the results of local entries with regular search results most of the time. The local entries are presented at the top of the organic search results. They include a map of the business location, which makes it easy for customers to find you. Once they click on the listing they can go to the business profile to see more detailed info, and from there visit your website. Google local can give you more traffic than someone who has an AdWords paid listing on the top of the page.
2. Yahoo Local – The Yahoo directory has been functioning since 2004 and it has a high page rank as well. Yahoo Local is comprehensive in that it allows you to directly edit their local search result for your business but also uses a variety of local data providers not used by any other engine, such as WCities and DiscoverOurTown. Yahoo local offers a simple listing and an enhanced listing for a fee. The main advantage I see with Yahoo is the number of Yahoo mail users, which is the biggest of all email free clients online. Yahoo listings are manually reviewed. When submitting a listing to Yahoo it can take from a couple of days up to a month to have your listing approved.
3. Bing Places For Business – Previously known as Bing local, the Bing Business Portal has just moved beta mode to fully functional. Bing is very similar to Yahoo. Both services are owned by Microsoft and use the same data providers to show results. However the new service offers some cool features that other directories fall short on. For example, the new BBP offers a mobile listing, a QR code option, special deals option, and additional users option. The later can be used to allow somebody else to maintain and update the listing. The BBP is very important too, as many people use Internet Explorer as their default browser and of course the default search engine of IE is Bing. Plus that Bing is also the default search engine on Facebook.
4. Manta – This directory offers quite a lot and its user numbers and ranking are on the rise. You can list you business, including a photo, hours of operation, services etc. What I found interesting on this directory is the fact that they allow you to set up a personal profile that it can be connected to your business listing. Moreover, Manta allows Twitter or RSS feeds to be connected to the listing. These feeds operate in real-time and show Twitter updates that make the listing more recent, interesting, and adds a voice to it. To see what I mean, check out the Shero Designs listing by clicking here.
5. LinkedIn – The fact that this directory/professional network is so widely used, makes it another must have place for your business to be linked to. Having a company listing on LinkedIn can help finding leads, growing your business globally, or finding the right vendors. Similar to Manta, LinkedIn allows blog or Twitter account feed sharing. If your content is unique enough you can link to it from your profile page, or take it one step further by promoting featured blog content to LinkedIn members on the site. With LinkedIn you can create even targeted ads where the amount of info that is shown can be controlled. Last, I don’t know why but LinkedIn is among the most credible directories that enjoys the highest ranking on Google.
These are the five most important free local directories that every business should be listed on. I am sure that we can add more to the list, such as SuperPages, Citysearch, YellowPages etc., but they are somehow limited when it comes to what information you can add and the amount of information shown. To take full advantage of what they offer you have to pay a monthly fee.
Creating a Local listing for your business and optimizing your website for local searches takes nothing away from your website’s overall optimization, and can result in a real improvement in traffic. The above five directories will allow you to enter a ton of details for your business and it is all at no cost.