How to Submit to Online Directories
When it comes to marketing, visibility online is one of the key factors to your success. That’s because, unlike the yellow pages of the past, today’s consumer is starting their search for products and services online. In fact, research shows that more than 95% of people (aka your potential customers) are going to search engines like Google when they need pretty much anything!
As online visibility becomes increasingly important, businesses are turning to digital marketing, search engine optimization, advertising, and more to boost their presence! One of the easiest ways to support those efforts is to utilize the power of online directories. Over 90% of those people searching for products and services have utilized an online directory in the past year. So by showing up in online directories, you can increase your chances of being found – and contacted – which is the best marketing outcome possible.
In this guide, we’ll explain exactly what directories offer and how to use them effectively!
What Are Online Directories
Before we start with online directories, let’s discuss exactly what they are (and how to identify them).
Online directories are similar to old phone books because they usually include relevant information about the business you’re looking for and the name, phone number, and address. What’s different is that directories typically contain similar types of companies. This structure often makes a directory more valuable to businesses because you know the person is searching for exactly what you offer!
A general directory might be as broad as Google’s profile options. Industry-specific examples include Angi, formerly Angie’s List (where people look for home services), or OpenTable (where people book restaurant reservations). Because directories contain relevant business types, they can be extremely helpful to consumers looking for a product or service.
Imagine looking for a local restaurant and having to scroll through dozens of websites to compare menus, hours, and more. Instead, one visit a platform like Yelp or TripAdvisor, and you can quickly assess restaurants (complete with menus, reviews, and pictures) quickly! That’s the power of an online directory – and why they’re so popular with consumers.
Top Benefits Of Online Directories
As we discussed above, there are many digital marketing methods to help your business rank higher and get in front of more people. And one highly effective way is to include your business information in relevant directories.
Below are the top three benefits of online directories (and why you should use them)!
- Getting in Front Of The Right People
People who find you through an online directory often want what you have and are local. That’s because most directories include and index businesses from a specific industry, niche, or location.
For example, when you search for homes near you, you’ll likely see results from a website like Zillow.com or Realtor.com. Both include information from local real estate agents and agencies and listings on homes near the searcher’s location. Imagine if, instead, someone searched for homes and ended up with thousands of listings from all over the country. It would take forever to find what they were looking for!
With online directories, especially those highly relevant to your business and industry, your business can be front and center to a highly relevant (and motivated) audience.
- Authority Building
A site with high authority is likelier to appear in search results than one with low authority. This means the more credible your website is, the higher your chances are of improving your ranking (and visibility)!
One great way to boost your website’s credibility is through online directories. Online directories are often high-authority sites, so when they link to yours, they signal to search engines that your business is credible. The more of these authoritative sites that refer to your website, the better!
- Low Cost And Effective
Many search engine optimization strategies require making a long-term investment. From website and copywriting improvements to paid ads, you typically get the best results with a comprehensive approach and a strong marketing budget.
That’s why you may be surprised to learn that online directories are one of the lower-cost options that can still be highly effective. Often, online directories offer a free listing. And while these free options may be limited on the business details you can share, paid options are usually reasonable.
Google does have some restrictions on what is allowed (and what’s not) when it comes to paid links, so be sure to work with a professional as needed to generate the best outcomes without breaking any SEO guidelines that could jeopardize your success.
Step By Step Guide To Using Online Directories
Using online directories can be easy, but it does take time. Follow the steps below to identify and evaluate each directory option before getting started!
Find Relevant Options
One of the most important steps as you begin to identify online directories to join is understanding which ones are relevant to your business. This is a case where quality over quantity applies.
Your customers aren’t looking for a painting business on a site dedicated to dog walkers, so don’t add details there (unless you are, in fact, a dog walker)! Not only will your profile lead to frustration for potential customers, but it can also damage your search engine optimization efforts – which factors in relevance when crawling your site and related links.
Start with highly relevant directories to your business, services, and even location. If you only serve clients in your state, avoid directories that attract nationwide or international customers.
In addition to industry and location relevance, you can also join directories with more unique qualifications. For example, businesses owned by veterans, females, or people of color may find opportunities to participate in directories that focus on those commonalities and are not limited to a business type.
Evaluate Domain Authority
Once you’ve created a list of potential directories, take the time to investigate domain authority. Domain authority refers to the credibility of any given site, and most often, the higher, the better. Some larger directories (like Yelp or Zillow) may be obvious, but you can use a free resource like Moz or Semrush to get a general idea of ranking on others.
Google doesn’t have an official metric it offers for domains, so use third-party results as a guide. While not perfect, starting with the highest authority directories is a best practice to help you achieve better results. That’s because a site with high authority can signal that your business is credible because of its association.
Be Consistent With Your Business Information
Once you have identified and assessed directories, you’re ready to start creating profiles. When you do, be sure to use consistent information for your business. This consistency applies to entering your business name, address, and additional details. Consistency helps Google and other search engines build trust related to your business listings and website, so don’t forget to update all your listings if any business details change over time.
Take advantage of any opportunity to add descriptions, upload photos, etc. The more your profile has, the more it can stand out, attract more customers, and boost your SEO!
Add New Directories Regularly
If you’re just getting started with online directories, you may be tempted to add a few and move on. Ideally, you should join new directories regularly. This effort will continue to support your search engine optimization and get you in front of the most possible people!
Don’t forget to keep your details on all directories current (including location or contact changes, hours of operation, and more)! If one of your business details change, return to your directories list and ensure each listing or profile is updated to reflect the change.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have more questions about using online directories to support your marketing strategies?
View our frequently asked questions below or call (954) 833-7365 for a free consultation.
How to do directory submissions?
To begin with directory submission, identify the directories most relevant to your business and industry. Next, review the directory’s domain authority and start creating listings on those that have the highest.
Most directories offer a profile that includes your name, address, and phone (NAP), and you must enter these details on all directories consistently. If a directory allows you to share additional information or upload photos, etc., complete all available fields. Doing so can help boost your visibility and search engine optimization.
To get the most out of online directories, continue to add new ones (and keep old ones updated).
What is online directory submission?
Online directory submission is when you submit your business information, including website URL, to directories. Typically, the purpose is to improve your own website’s credibility and search engine optimization.
To successfully utilize online directories, look for highly relevant options for your company type and industry. Avoid submitting details to a real estate directory, for example, if you own a daycare business, as it could lead to consumer confusion (and lower SEO).
Once you have a list of directory options, review the authority of the websites and start with the highest ones. You can use a free resource like Moz or Semrush to investigate!
Lastly, your online directory submissions should be consistent to ensure the best results. Whether entering basic NAP information (name, address, and phone) or adding more, consistency will help you maximize your efforts!
What is the difference between directories, citations and listings?
Directories, citations, and listings are all important (and similar)! Directories are essentially a digital version of the yellow pages. They list relevant business information in one particular place. Good examples of online directories include the Better Business Bureau and Yelp.
A citation is where your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are listed. And a listing is when that information (and potentially more) is included in a directory. If your business is listed on Yelp, you have a listing that includes citation details.
Regardless of which directories you choose to participate in, listings (and citations) are great ways to improve your search engine optimization and overall visibility online!
How do I get listed on an online directory?
The first step to joining an online directory is identifying appropriate opportunities for your business. Start with industry-specific options or those relevant to your business type, location, etc. Focusing on quality options will help you get the best results. This means if you’re in the real estate industry, don’t waste time joining directories focused on local dentists. Not only will your potential customers be confused (and annoyed), but you can lose authority on your own website if you aren’t sticking to relevant directories.
After identifying your business’s best (and most relevant) options, use free resources like Moz or Semrush to get an idea of the directories’ domain authority. Domain authority is the equivalent of online credibility, so the more, the better.
When you start adding online listings in directories, you’ll follow the prescribed process for adding information and/or creating an account. Be sure to stay consistent when you add details like the business name, address, phone and more. Consistency is key to success and will help you get the best results.
Do people still use online directories?
Yes! According to some reports, over 90% of consumers have used an online directory in the past year. Online directories often have valuable domain authority (and invest in advertising), which means they are more visible than an independent business website.
If you search for a local Italian restaurant in your area, the top results are often websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and OpenTable. And since consumers don’t typically scroll through page after page before clicking on a result, they’ll quickly end up in an online directory over any given restaurant website. By participating in an online directory, you can increase your chances of being found. And if your website and your name appear in a directory, even better (because the more you are seen, the more likely you’ll hear from that person searching)!
How does an online directory work?
An online directory works like the old yellow pages. It combines various businesses and provides information for a potential customer looking for a new product or service. Online directories typically include companies that have similarities. Good examples include Angi (formerly Angie’s List), which focuses on home service providers and contractors, or OpenTable, which features restaurants.
If you’re a business owner with a website, participating in online directories can benefit your marketing efforts. That’s because you can boost your site’s credibility when other credible sites reference or “vouch” for you.
To get started with online directories, we recommend creating an initial list of options relevant to your industry, location, etc. Don’t buy into the “quantity over quality” idea when using directories. Instead, look for those options that are highly relevant and would be a natural introduction to potential customers.
After you’ve compiled an initial list, review each directory’s domain authority with a free tool like Semrush or Moz. While not an exact science, utilizing directories with higher rankings can be helpful as their credibility improves yours.
Once you have decided on the directories you will join first, you can follow each process to create a listing or profile. Some directories offer the basic NAP information, which is the business name, address, and phone number. Others will include opportunities to add business and service details, photos, and more. Regardless of what’s available, focus on adding your information consistently. Inconsistencies can break “trust” from search engines and lead to lower traffic and rankings.
Lastly, keep adding to your directories over time. And if anything in your business changes (such as the address, primary phone number, or website URL) keep those old listings current!
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