Online business directories are fast becoming the lifeblood of new local customers for all types of local businesses. As local consumers consign their tatty, old print directories to the bottom shelf, more and more of them are turning to the internet, and even mobile Smartphones, to locate the best local businesses for their needs.
In the UK it’s estimated that nearly 20 million people each month use online business directories when searching for local products, services & businesses. That says a lot about the changing behavior of local consumers. They want information faster, better and with more detail than old paper directories can provide. It’s not enough these days for a local business to simply list its name, address and phone number. Local customers want a full description of your business, to see your opening hours, to understand your prices and even know what you look before they pick up the phone.
Online business directories, including the hundreds of fee business directories, allow for this extra detail to be added to your business listing. It’s the local businesses who make the most of this opportunity that are reaping the reward of attracting new customers.
There are literally hundreds of paid-for and free online business directories out there. But how do you know which ones are the best and what’s the key to perfecting your listing so you stand out from your competitors without having to pay extra to do so?
5 Quick Steps to creating a perfect online business directory listing
1. Pick the most popular & relevant directories for your business
The best online directories for your business are those that have the greatest number of people using them or are specific to your industry. That said, not every niche directory is good, as many have next to no users at all, but a quick bit of online research will tell you if they’re worth using or not. Try ‘google-ing’ your business type+location (e.g. accountant in Leeds) and see which directories appear on the first 3 pages of Google results – those are the ones to focus on first. To find out which directories have the biggest audiences have a look at the directory comparison chart on this page – Comparison of top UK online business directories
2. Add your business to each directory
Once you’ve identified the top online directories from step one, add or claim your business on each of them. You might find that your business already has a basic listing on some directories as many of them buy their listing information from a central data provider. Make sure that you enter your correct business name, address & phone number as this is critical to future success; always use your real address and local phone number, not a PO box or 0800 number.
Note – look out for a confirmation email from each directory in your inbox; you’ll need to follow certain steps within the email to complete your registration.
3. Complete your online listing with as much information as you’re allowed
The beauty of online business directories is that you’re not limited to listing just the name, address, and phone number of your business. You can enrich your directory listing with extra detail such as a business description, website URL, list of services, opening hours, facilities, logos, pictures etc. Take full advantage of this opportunity to give your business listing as much personality as you can. Take a few minutes to review the information you added to make sure it’s 100% accurate and consistent across all local directories.
4. Create or use a local Special Offer Voucher
Using special offer vouchers or coupons on your online business directory listing is an excellent way to convert browsers into actual consumers. Local consumers are always attracted to the word “free” or “special offer”; it will make your business listing stand out from your competitors. If you don’t have a regular special offer then create one; you don’t have to give away the earth, but create an offer that will get people calling or walking in your door.
Tip: use different voucher codes on each directory so that you can track which directories are generating you the most number of leads.
5. Interact with the communities on these directories
Online directories aren’t static websites. Many have vibrant and active communities of users. These users rate & review the local businesses they use, providing invaluable insight and tips for their fellow directory users. Research shows that 70% of people trust online business reviews and getting positive reviews for your business is a great way to push your business higher up the directory rankings and win more customers. You should do 1 of 2 things here:
- a) Ask your existing, loyal customers to go online and leave a positive review about your business;
- b) Interact with communities on directories by inviting them to come and try out your business or create an ‘event’ at your office, store, shop just for them.
Never try to ‘bribe’ people to review your business as this can backfire on you and can generate lots of negative comments which you don’t want (obviously!)
There’s no debate that online business directories offer a tremendous opportunity for local businesses to attract new customers. However, listing your business, updating your details and posting latest special offers on multiple directories is very time consuming. In business, time is money and you can save both using a multi-directory listing service such as DirectoryRunner from BrightLocal. DirectoryRunner allows you to manage and update all your online directory listings in 1-place.
DirectoryRunner will launch in late 2010 – <register for your Free beta trial now
- Use Google to research the best directories
- Add you business details to each directory
- Add lots of extra detail to your listing
- Add special offer voucher to your listing
- Generate online reviews to boost your ranking