Business Directories The good the bad the indifferent…
You’ve set up your new website, you’ve done some SEO, now you want to start doing a bit of advertising.
The question is, where do you start? Well a good place to start is online business directories.
Visit any business forum and you will find people that either love or hate business directories. Everyone has an opinion, everyone has their favourites, and most people will be able to rattle off examples of ones to avoid.
But for the new business, how do you know who to trust, especially when you’re getting bombarded with sales pitches. Let’s start with the basics.
What is the purpose of a business directory?
Answer – Exposure!
- Driving traffic to your business listing, giving you the chance of sales leads.
- Gaining a quality link back to your website which will help your website rankings within the search engines.
Sounds obvious, but thinking about this will help you decide who to list with. If a directory doesn’t have any traffic, the chances are your listing won’t get any!
Directory Types – Link Directories
Directories come in all shapes and sizes. There are literally thousands. Most of these are script generated, can be setup by a teenager in the back bedroom and their sole aim is to generate reciprocal links to gain page rank. They are easy to spot, if the directory just lists rows and rows of web links, then this is just a basic link directory.
You will often see adverts offering to list your website on 100 or 1000 directories for £10, £50 or £99. These will normally be low quality link directories and should be avoided. Your website could be listed on the same page as unsavoury websites which could actually damage your online reputation.
There are some quality link directories out there, but you are better manually signing up with these so you can gauge and asses each one, making sure you are happy. The advantage is the majority of link directories are free, allowing you to start creating your own link building campaign which is a great part of SEO. They will normally require a reciprocal link from your website, and some will insist on a home page link, which unless it is an impressive directory with a high page rank, I would avoid.
Simply Google “UK Link Directory” and make your own mind up about each one.
Commercial business directories come in various formats. From Yahoo, Yell to Scoot, Touch Local and My Local Services. Some are free, some have free and paid options, some have token charges for lifetime listings and other are monthly or annual subscriptions with prices which vary right across the spectrum.
A lot of this will depend on your budget and personal preference.
A simple Google search for Business Directories or Business Listings will give you plenty of results to choose from.
Do your own homework – or cheat with Alexa!
Just as with link directories, always consider each directory on its own merits. Don’t fall for the slick sales pitch, do your own research. A quick and easy way to gauge if a website has been around a while or has any traffic is to visit Alexa.com. This is a site run by Amazon, so hardly independent, and any online marketer will no doubt tell you the results are rubbish, but the reality is they do give a rough idea of how well a website is doing. Simply visit Alexa, enter the web address you want to find out about where it says “look up sites”. On the traffic stats you will see an Alexa Traffic Rank number. This is supposedly a list of all the sites in the world, with Google being at number 1.
So if shiny-new-directory.com has an Alexa rank of 4 million, I wouldn’t part with too much cash! You will also be able to see how long the site has been online, the number of website linking to it, which can be a gauge of popularity and a very rough approximate idea of traffic. As with all things, a bit of common sense goes a long way.
Should I list my business with multiple directories?
Absolutely! The more the merrier. With plenty of quality free or low cost directories around, there is no reason why you can’t make your marketing spend go further and further. The more quality web links you have, the better!
As a business owner, it’s up to you to see the benefit of any paid advertising. If you have a marketing budget, then spend it wisely. Why spend £50 annually if £75 will give you a listing for life. Always ask what options are on offer. Especially in times of economic recession, the buying power is in the hands of the purchaser… You!
Do Directories work for all types of business?
Yes and no. Any business with a website that lists on directories with quality web links should gain good SEO feedback in the form of potential back links and improved PageRank, even if they don’t actually receive any leads or traffic.
Some businesses with the best will of the world won’t get any results or traffic from a business directory. I’ve yet to come up with a definitive list of business types, but if you are a Nuclear Powerplant designer, you will probably get little traffic from a local business directory.
Why directories sometimes doesn’t work.
The obvious ones, the directory has minimal to no traffic or is not well placed in the search engines.
Less obvious, the business owner is lazy!!
If you are going to the time and trouble to list your business on a directory, then why would you copy and paste the same text from directory to directory, which probably started off on your own website!
Each directory listing is a chance for you to showcase your business. So show off and utilize whatever functionality a directory has to offer. If you can add multiple web links, then do it! If you can write lots of text, go for it. Write original text with keywords relating to your industry or business. Then the search engines will grab this page, admire its originality and award it a higher ranking in the search engine results.
Copying and pasting the same old text straight off your website is something most of us are guilty of from time to time, but a little thought time and effort can really reap rewards.
Once you have created your listing and it goes live on the directory, go back and revisit it. Does it still read ok? Do the web links work? (Trust me, people really do misspell them!). Does it encourage people to pick the phone up or click through to your website?
Remember, a directories job is to generate page views on your listing. Each one of these is a potential lead. It’s your job to sell your products, services and yourself.
Article by Steve Richardson – MD of Lowi Ltd