Online Marketing SEO

Business Directories, are they good or bad for your business?

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Written by Gavin Rookyard
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When you run your own business, it’s a complete minefield when you start to think about how you can get seen in the right places online.  Where do you go?  Where does everyone else go?  Is it worth it?  How much will it cost?  Can I afford it?  These are all the key considerations that when you’re a small business trying to get your name out there that, run through your head.

A great place to start is to get add your business to a good quality online business directory.  The reason I say “good quality” is that there are hundreds out there, some brilliant, but in some cases not all of them actually care about you or your business, or put you in front of the right people.

There are also many who charge a fortune, but you get very little in return.  So hopefully this article will give you some hints and tips about what to look for.

What is the advantage of adding my business to an online directory?

Helps with SEO Firstly, adding your business to an online directory is a great way to help increase your SEO (search engine optimisation) well established directories have their own SEO, so by adding your business to that directory, helps you appear with them in Google search results.

Each listing creates its own link, therefore if you are listed with a good quality, high ranking directory this is a good way to build up backlinks, which in itself gives your own site SEO.  A good way to think about it is that it’s not just a listing, but a great way for you to get some advertising for your business.

How do you choose?

Recommendation from another business contact or friend, to me is the best way.  There is no better way than word of mouth recommendation.  We speak to so many business each day who have lots of experience, who have been there, done that and got the t-short,  so my first recommendation is “phone a friend”.

Ask your web developer if you have one, or if someone is looking after your online presence, they will be able to guide you on this.  There are amazing companies that we have got to know over the last few years, who genuinely have their customers interests at heart, and will place you in the right directories for your business.  There will be some which are focused on your skill set or proposition in particular that may be of benefit.  Others are for a broader reach, and will help you gain presence, contacts and exposure for your business overall.

Look at local and national reach.  If your business is to serve the local community, then find one in your area, although also being included in a strong, established national directory will also help you locally.  After all, what’s the first thing we all do when we’re looking for something?  We Google it. No matter where we are based or what we are looking for, that’s generally the first thing you do.

How much does it cost?

Most reputable online directories will offer a FREE listing service.  As long as you are happy with the directory, and what it’s offering then this is a great way to start.  Bear in mind that by being added as a FREE listing will make you reliant on someone coming across your business through some sort of search that they have done.  This won’t secure you a specific result, or give you any added promotion or benefits.   After all, by adding yourself FREE, you can’t expect much in return.

Most directories will offer some sort of Premium service, where you pay slightly more, but this in turn should give you more benefits.  For example this should help return your results more effectively, give you a better position above others.  One of the most common stories we hear, and one that as business owners ourselves have fallen foul to is paying hundreds, and hundreds of pounds!  Don’t do it, it doesn’t work.  Those directory services will promise you the earth and deliver little or nothing in return.  Every penny counts when you run your own business, so make sure that you have done your homework!  If the directory is purely about returning listing results, and doesn’t offer any other value add for you as a business, then reconsider.

We do have a directory element to what we do within the UK Business Circle; however that’s not our sole purpose.  We are an online network of amazing cross UK Businesses, who also have a great directory.  To us it’s much more than just returning a search result, it’s about getting you in front of the right people for your business, and getting to know how we can help.

For example our directory element of the network we have offers business a Premium listing for £35 for an entire year.  This means that you are ranked before all of the free listings, your business is promoted by us each day to our reach of over 2.5million, and your listing link is promoted every day.  Thus giving more exposure, and increasing the chances of people of knowing who you are, what you do, and clicking on your link.

Premium listings, can also add blogs, again creating another link, which are promoted out to the network each time you load one.  Blogs are a brilliant way for you to create great content, get your point across, and increase SEO.  You can add your own events, join the multitude of ways to network and engage with like-minded people, and get help and support.   The key point is that at £35 for a year, that’s an affordable and accessible price point for any business, regardless of scale.  Directories who charge you more than that need much more of a serious consideration.

Make it as easy as possible to connect with you

The amount of content that you can add to an online directory depends, but it’s critical that you, or the person doing this for you takes the time to get it right, and add as much information as possible about you and your business.

In our generation there are so many ways to connect, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, the list goes on and on.  You don’t have to have all of these way’s to connect, but the ones you do have and the links to these being visible on your directory listing will give people more way’s to connect with you.  You need to make it easy for potential customers or contacts to find or follow you.

Take the time to add as much content as possible to each listing that you complete.  At a very basic level this should be; what you do, your website and telephone number.  Ensuring that these basic elements are right, and kept up to date with the directory provider, is a must.

The best way to think about a listing, is that it is a shop window for your business, regardless of how little or much information you add, and people won’t come into your shop, unless you make it look great.

Having accurate, quality and well thought out, including thorough listings with considered description text on high ranking directories is, without a doubt, good for your general SEO campaign across the board. Spending a little time on your own editing those listings and keeping them updated when there are major changes would is worthwhile.

If you do decide that you want to invest some of your hard earned money into directories is completely dependent upon your business needs and, of course, your budget.

Just remember;

  • Ask a fellow business owner what works for them
  • Speak to the people who look after your online presence, and ask what has worked for others
  • Think about what return you are getting for your money
  • Spend a little time keeping it up to date, and treat your listing like a shop window to your business

About the author

Gavin Rookyard

Gavin owns and runs the UK Business Circle network, helping UK businesses grow and connect with customers, offering a range of services aimed at increasing visibility.

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