Did you know that 79% of customers do research online before visiting a store? With more people flocking to the Internet for answers, suggestions, and ideas, it’s no wonder that businesses who have a large online presence are the ones who seem to be doing so well these days.
One way business owners are getting in front of customers is by adding their company information to local listing websites. Local business listings are online directories — much like a phonebook — that are often categorized by industry and list key information about various businesses in a local area. For instance, if you’re searching for a “pizza place near me” the following top business directory sites might appear in search results:
- Bing Maps
When users click on one of these local directories, they are met with a choice of dozens of local pizza joints from which to choose. Hours of operation, website URL, address, phone number, and even reviews for businesses can be found on these directories. However, when business owners don’t take the time to update or create a local listing profile for their business, the result is missing or inaccurate information. Missing or inaccurate information leads to frustrated users who instead decide to give their business to a local competitor merely because they have their hours of operation and phone number accurately listed.
Instances like this one are all too familiar. To avoid handing customers off to your competitors, the solution is to focus on adding your company information to local business listings. Below are a few reasons why these online directories are so crucial for the survival of your business in an age where online search is mainstream.
Benefits of Online Business Directories
- Improve online presence. The more business directories you add your company to, the more frequently your brand will appear in search results. Think of each local listing profile as an additional website for your business; you want to ensure it is up to date, has plenty of pictures of your product or service, and provides contact information such as email and phone number. An estimated 50% of mobile queries have local intent, which means if your business shows up in a local listing such as Yelp, Angie’s List, YellowPages, or Google My Business, then you are vastly improving your online mobile presence.
- Boost website SEO. Search engine optimization is a means of ensuring your website is appearing in the top search results spots for target keywords. If you are a local pizza joint, you may be optimizing your website for phrases such as “best pizza” or “pizza restaurant” or “authentic Italian pizza”. Local business directories also optimize their site for these keywords. Since online business directories have a high domain authority, they are more likely to appear higher in search results for the same keywords. Having a listing profile on these reputable sites means your business will appear more frequently than perhaps your website will.
- Increased brand visibility. Creating or updating your business profile on a directory site will undoubtedly increase brand visibility. Be sure to include as much information as possible. For instance, many online directories allow business owners to upload a company logo. Make sure you create a logo that looks great online so that you can add it to both your website and these third party listing websites. The more sites you add your company information to, the more likely users are to see your logo and identify with your brand and what you offer.
- Improve business reputation. Business directories such as Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yelp all allow customers to leave a review about their experience with your product or service. While many business owners dread reviews, they offer you the ability to improve your business reputation. Even a negative review can be turned into a more positive learning experience when handled correctly. As long as you are communicating effectively to your clients or customers, you can expect the majority of your reviews to be positive. These reviews can then be shared on social media and you can even list them on your website.
- Dominate search results. When it comes to a search results page, think of a Monopoly board. While playing Monopoly, the goal is to acquire as many properties on the board as possible to increase the chances that other players will land on your Real estate. The same thing applies to a search results page; the more times your website appears on the page, the more likely users are to click on your website. One of the best ways to ensure that your site appears often in search results is by creating local business profiles on high-ranking directory sites.
Are Business Listings Worth It?
The best part about adding your business to online local business listings is that the majority of them are free. Adding your business to Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Facebook, YellowPages and other major listing sites does not cost you a dime, and the setup is quite easy. As long as you have a few minutes to sit down and input your company information into your new profile, you should be up and running in no time. Paid online directories will usually charge a one-time setup fee or a very small monthly fee in order to maintain your listing for you.
Keep in mind that all local listing sites are different, so there may be different processes regarding how you can create or claim a listing. For example, some sites will send you a postcard with a PIN number that you will need to input online in order to claim your profile. Other listings will call your business phone number and give you a code to input, while others will simply require you to open a confirmation email. In the end, business listings are worth the time investment; they offer cheap online exposure and are very cost effective. The ROI can be measured easily if you have Google Analytics or other website tracking set up as all user traffic coming from these listing sites are labeled as “Referral”.
If you understand the importance of local business listings but don’t have the time or the manpower to create a profile on these websites, then we recommend enlisting in the help of local business listing services. For a low monthly price, agencies and online marketing companies will create, update, and claim local business directory profiles for you.