The days of looking up a business in the phone book are nearly past. Like a lot of things, the digital world has made this information easier to find. So instead of listing your business in the phone book or local newspaper, business owners turn to online business directories.
When it comes to SEO and business directories, there is a bit of contention in the air. This is because black hat SEOs (aka the people who go against Google guidelines and do more damage than good to a website) have abused online business directories in the past. They did this by adding businesses to hundreds of crappy, low-quality directories that never see the light of day, just so they can get a link pointing back to their client’s website (a backlink).
Doing something online just to get a backlink isn’t the best strategy when it comes to making Google happy. If you obtain relevant backlinks to your website in a natural way, you’re going to be Google’s star pupil. However, if you add your business to an online directory, purely for the link, then you may need to re-think your actions.
There are some business directories that I have listed my own business on and I also recommend my clients to do so as well. This is because these online directories are actually used by people searching for businesses.
Online business directory listings help to:
Create more touch points online for your brand/business
Aid your online reputation (e.g. when someone Google’s your business name, you want to ‘own’ all the results on the first page if possible)
Send what we call ‘referral traffic’ to your website by the user clicking through from one of these business listings to your website
Build up your backlink profile (the more relevant backlinks you have, the more ‘popular’ you are in Google’s eyes)
Show your business to people searching on Google for your services/products near you. Google uses all the mentions of your NAPW (business name, address, phone number and website) to ascertain that your business actually exists and where
Pro tip: Choose a specific format for your NAPW and stick to it. Right down to using ‘St’ all the time verse ‘Street’. The more consistent your NAPW is, the easier it is for Google to comprehend. I typically stick with the format that shows on the Google My Business listing.
Which online directories should you list your business on?
If it looks like a shitty website, then don’t list your business there! Where-ever you create a mention of your business online (whether it includes a backlink or not) you want to make sure that it makes sense for your business to be mentioned there.
Most of the directories I have listed Grand Cru Digital on and help my clients to list their businesses on are the well-known directories alongside a number of industry-specific directories and local directories.
The industry-specific and local directories you’ll probably already know of or you’ll come across them at some point. For example, as I am based in Sale, Victoria, there is a local Gippsland Business Connect directory which I signed up for as soon as we moved to town.
Pro tip: Create a Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet to keep track of any business listings you create and their login information. This is handy if you need to update these listings down the track, for instance, if you change address, phone number, etc.
Online business directories to add your business to today:
Without further ado here is my list of free business directories I have seen drive website traffic and customers/leads to mine and my clients’ websites.