When it comes to local SEO, submitting your business to various online directories is one of the most effective ways to build your online presence and improve your search engine rankings.
However, if you are just a beginner in local SEO and don’t know where to start from, things can be a bit overwhelming.
In this blog post, we are going to simplify that process of getting started for you. We are going to list and describe 7 online directories that you can submit your business to. There are, of course, many more online directories that you can utilize, but the following seven directories that we are highlighting in this article can help you get started right away.
What are online directories?
Before we jump into the listings, let’s talk about online directories — and their benefits — for a little bit.
Directories are online websites (call them digital Yellow Pages) that list businesses and classify them under certain categories. The listing is done to help consumers find what they are looking for.
For example, if I need a haircut, I’ll search the online directory with the keyword ‘haircut’. The directory will show me filtered results of parlors offering a haircut.
Unlike the old printed directories that would only list business names and addresses, the digital directories share reviews, business comparisons, and much more. This way consumers are able to make better choices for themselves quickly and efficiently.
Another important aspect of online directories is the orientation of local results. Most directories make use of GPS to show accessible businesses nearby.
Greater accessibility results in increased exposure for businesses; it has also been backed by various studies. For instance, according to a study by Comscore,
78% of local mobile searches resulted in purchases within a few hours.
Benefits of online directories
1. Search engine rankings
Online directories help a business stand out in search engine rankings. Most first-page results by Google are businesses that are listed in online directories.
2. Increased exposure
Online directories improve a business’s chances of discovery by showing the closest results against a general keyword.
For example, if a consumer has searched for ‘cocktail bars’ in place of a name of a particular bar, the directory will show all relevant cocktail bars. This improves the chances of non-targeted businesses to get a customer footfall.
3. Customer reviews
Online directories let consumers post online reviews in real-time. One good review attracts one or more consumer experiences, and the chain goes on.
This results in business expansion and prosperity in an almost passive way. The review history also strengthens a business’s reputation in the long run. Consumers are more likely to trust in a business that most of their peers already like and trust.
Online directories that you can use
Online directories are mostly free. You can list your business there and link it to your other online portals. However, a few directories have a listing fee — at least for their premium versions where more features are available.
Here are some powerful online directories that can help you with your local SEO efforts.
1. Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a product of Google, and it is the most widely used online directory. One reason why GMB is so popular is because of its seamless integration with Google Maps via GPS capabilities.
GMB lets users find nearby businesses in real-time. It not only shows the business address and other details but also navigates the user to the place using Google Maps. As a result, it is far more convenient and practical for consumers as well as businesses.
“You will be far more visible to the vast majority of users of both Android and iPhones searching for businesses within a 5-kilometer radius,” said Google speaking about the usability of GMB. “Local searchers do not want to be constantly bombarded with the same old big names that may or may not truly offer the service or product they are seeking.”
Getting started with GMB is easy and free. Learn how to set up a GMB account.
2. Bing Places
Bing Places is an online business directory by Microsoft. It lets users feed business information, save locations, post photos and videos for free.
Google doesn't show Bing Places in its search results. However, the Bing browser always take potential consumers to this directory.
You can easily sign up for a listing at Bing Places.
Yelp is a social directory and app for recommendations and reviews. For a business, it's a powerful platform to establish the brand and increase its consumer base.
Yelp allows business profiles to send public and private messages to consumers that may include the latest deals. In addition, Yelp also offers a reporting tool that lets users analyze business trends.
Creating a business profile with Yelp is just a few simple steps. Get started with Yelp.
4. Yellow Pages
Yellow Pages (YP) is a proven online directory.
YP strengthens local SEO by providing the most accurate business listing and cross-platform sharing. It has ties with search engines and other industry tycoons that give the listed business overwhelming exposure. It also has a robust consumer base that makes the listed business enjoy a free reception.
Last year, 70 million visitors were drawn by Yellow Pages and the company claims itself to be the U.S.’s #2 local search destination.
5. Yahoo Places
Yahoo is no longer the top search engine, but it still is one of the biggest directories for local businesses.
Yahoo provides many business listing features that are found in GMB. It shows addresses, shares contact details, displays opening hours, and navigates the consumer using maps.
However, it charges fees for its premium features. You can make a free basic listing that doesn’t allow you to post photos and videos — to talk about the least — for free.
Manta is a business listing hub that promises excellent rankings and more customers to small businesses.
It invests in AdWords, makes you discoverable on Google Maps, Bing, Yahoo, and other directories, lets you manage your business reviews with the help of real-time notifications, and makes your social sites accessible by enabling it on the first page of search engines.
Foursquare is a networking site as well as an online directory. It lets small businesses be shown on Maps.
Consumers can find businesses by selecting the category and location on the home page. Foursquare will direct customers to the map and show the selected business’s ratings and comments it has received.
You can use Foursquare on both the web and on mobile. With FourSquare, businesses get access to a platform that is specifically designed to attract local customers.
Listing your business in one directory can get you some traffic, but more directories generally mean a better success rate and higher exposure.
You should start with these seven online directories. After that, the tip is to always keep searching for new places where you can add your business listing.