Business directories offer consumers a centralized location for finding businesses like yours. Whether they’re looking to find a plumber, try a new restaurant, or add a new stop to their late-night bar crawls, consumers turn to online local listings every day to address a myriad of needs.
How do they get to these listings? According to a Google study on local search behavior, an overwhelming 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local information on businesses—store address, business hours, product availability, and so on. The same study notes that consumers also take action, with half (50%) of them visiting a store within one day after searching on their smartphone.
So, if you want to increase your organic reach and have your business show up in these local searches, you’ll need to create several business listings across various directories. But first, there are a few things you need to know. Check out the tips below to get started.
5 Must-Know Tips for Online Business Listing Sites
1. Find the most suitable online directories for your business.
In an ideal world, your business name would appear everywhere a customer could possibly search. But as a small business owner wearing multiple hats, you have limited time. Hunting down and completing a profile for every available business directory just isn’t feasible.
A compromise between maximum organic reach and zero local SEO is creating online listings on only the most suitable directories. You can think of suitable in two different ways: popularity and relevance. Popular directories are widely used and have a lot of traffic, such as Google and Yelp. Relevant directories might be ones specific to your industry (e.g., restaurant) or the type of services you offer (e.g., accounting).
2. Add as much information as possible to each directory.
Once you’ve identified where you want to list your business, you need to figure out what you plan on sharing about it. Recall the Google study mentioned previously—consumers want to know at least the basics. So, at a minimum, each local business listing should include your website, business address, phone number, and hours of operation. Customers should be able to contact and locate you easily and know when they can show up to shop.
Beyond the basics, you’ll want to craft a compelling description of your business that gives would-be customers a reason to reach out or visit. Be clear on the products and services you offer, as the chances are low that customers will call to inquire about what you sell. They’re more likely to just move on to the next listing.
Keep in mind that the more descriptive you are, the greater chance you have of showing up in consumer searches. For example, consumers may be searching for “authentic quesadillas near me.” Assuming your business is a Mexican restaurant, your description is likely to already show up on Google’s radar. However, you may increase the chance of appearing in search engine listings if you include details about your authentic quesadillas (and how much customers love them).
3. Create a special offer for would-be customers.
A great description may pique someone’s interest, but if you want to seal the deal, try offering a special discount or coupon. It doesn’t have to be anything grand. You just want to give readers an extra nudge to choose your business over others. For example, you could offer 10% off their first purchase or a free dessert.
If you’re using voucher codes in your offer, you can create a different code for each directory. That way, you can track where most of your traffic is coming from. You may find that more customers are coming from an industry- or service-specific directory than the popular listing platforms.
4. Keep business information up to date.
Your job isn’t done when you’ve created your local directory listings. After all, these aren’t just static assets; they’re dynamic portals where customers can learn more about you and influence other customers. (You’ll learn more about this influence in the next tip.) That’s why it’s essential to monitor and update your listings as a regular part of doing business.
If you change (or add) locations, business numbers, a website, or other contact information, be sure to update all your listings accordingly. The last thing you want is potential customers calling an out-of-service number or, even worse, showing up to a closed-down building. Not only can this make you lose out on customers—but it can also damage your business reputation.
5. Manage customer reviews carefully.
A key part of most directories is online customer reviews. As a business owner, you’ll face both positive reviews and negative reviews. Naturally, you want reviews to skew largely toward the positive so you can maintain a good business reputation. Otherwise, you could make customers apprehensive—a 2020 BrightLocal survey found that less than half (48%) of consumers would consider using a business with fewer than four stars.
But negative reviews also have their place. A few less-than-stellar comments from customers can help make your business listing more authentic. Here’s why: The same BrightLocal study found that the second-highest review factor consumers care most about was the legitimacy of reviews, or how real they were.
The above tips can help you take full advantage of business directories and increase the chance consumers see your business in search engine listings. This can increase traffic and, subsequently, your bottom line.
But you don’t have to create and manage your business listings by yourself. Get a helping hand and take control of your online presence across more than 70 business directories with Localworks, a local listing tool. Localworks is local listing management made simple. Ensure your customers have the most up-to-date information about your business, regardless of where they search. You can even get insights into how visitors interact with your business listings, then make informed business decisions from what you discover.