Online business directories represent a great marketing opportunity for small, local businesses. Today’s small business owners are confronted by an ever-increasing set of local marketing options and it’s tough to know where to spend your precious marketing money in order to get the best results.
For small businesses ‘results’ mean new customers picking up the phone or walking in the door; not website clicks or ‘likes’ on the latest social network to dip its toe into the local advertising market.
Online business directories represent a highly effective opportunity because they are used by local customers looking for local businesses at the time they need those businesses. It’s targeted, timely and very cost effective.
Millions of local people are turning to the internet to find the best local businesses and online business directories are benefiting greatly. The leading online directories in the UK attract more than 17 million users each month – that’s a lot of potential customers!
Many local directories offer free business directory listings and the opportunity to add extra information that will help your business listing stand out from the crowd. Directories do this in the hope of persuading you to upgrade to a paid-for listing in return for appearing at the top of the list for your category & location.
But with a complete and well-crafted business directory listing you can push your business to the top of the results without forking out the extra cash.
8 simple steps to get the perfect free business directory listing
1. Make sure you list the correct NAP (name, address, phone number)
It may seem obvious, but you need to ensure that you have the correct name, address & phone number listed. It’s estimated that 25% of online business listings use incorrect information which means wrong phone numbers and wrong addresses ; that’s a big problem for local businesses who rely on these details to bring in new customers. When listing your business always use a local phone number, not a 0800 or freephone number. And be sure to list your real business address not a PO box address.
2. Take care in selecting the right business category(s)
Online customers often search by category (e.g. plumbing supplies) so you need to make sure your business is listed where potential customers will find it. Before selecting your category it’s worth looking at your competitor’s listings and seeing which category they’re in. If you have the option to list under multiple categories make sure you use as many as you can. Don’t be afraid to be too specific; niche categories (e.g. traditional pubs) generate more qualified leads and niche listings will also appear within broader category results (e.g. pubs & bars)
3. Make your business description detailed & compelling
Your business description is a great opportunity to give your business directory listing some personality. If you’re an independent or a family-run business then mention that. If you’ve been loyally serving the local community for xx years, then say it; people love to know that they are really ‘buying local’. Be sure to include any accreditations you have and any service guarantees that you offer. Lastly, if you have a long running special offer or a Free service of any type then definitely include that.
4. Provide as much detail as you can about your business
A recent piece of research by the Yellow Pages Association found that 18% of local customers said they wanted to see more information in local business adverts. If people want more information, don’t disappoint. Make sure you add a complete list of services, products, opening hours, payment methods, locations served etc…
5. Add photos to give your business listing real character
A picture speaks a thousand words. Photos are a great way to personalize your business & make it stand out. This is easy for a business with a fixed location but even if you’re a plumber make sure you add pictures of your van, your past work and you. People like to know in advance what someone looks like.
6. Choose the right ‘Tags’ to describe your business
‘Tags’ are keywords that describe your business. Tags are useful for getting your business found via search and mean more potential customers will be able to find your business listing. Add as many tags as you can to cover all your services, products and locations. Use positive adjectives in your Tags such as best, quality, professional, reliable, delicious etc…
7. Add a Special offer Voucher/Coupon to boost conversion
Vouchers & coupons are great for converting potential customers to real customers. Not enough businesses use them and so they can really make your business directory listing stand out. If you don’t already have a special offer then create one. You can promote the same offer on multiple online directories but be sure to use a unique discount code for each directory so you can monitor where your leads/customers come from.
8. Encourage your customers to rate & review your business
Many modern online directories carry user reviews ratings & reviews. These can be a great tool to persuade potential customers to choose your business over your competitors. You should email your trusted customers with a link to your directory listing and request they leave a positive review. You can also interact with directory communities & encourage them to visit your business, try it out and leave a review.
You should never pay for a review or ‘bribe’ users as they can react negatively to this behavior. Instead try creating a compelling event for them to visit you & leave you a positive review afterward. Good reviews can get you to the top of the listings for free so don’t be shy about spending a little money to achieve this.