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Is it worth listing your business in an online directory?

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Is it worth listing your business in an online directory?

Online business directories have long been considered a fruitful soil for businesses who want to achieve greater Internet exposure. The temptation for business owners to register on as many directories as possible is understandable. The Web hosts hundreds of sites where you can add your business hoping to get seen by more prospective customers.

Despite being a regular advertising activity for many years, online listing has had its critics. In this article, I will discuss the usefulness of the practice.

Ask yourself what is your goal

Internet marketing is known for posing too many questions and giving too few answers of what it actually works in the industry. The efficiency of the online business directory listings is one such contentious topic that does not have a definitive answer.

One way to begin unravelling the matter would be to first answer the relatively simple question why do businesses want to register on these directories. There are two main reasons. First, they want to raise awareness of their brand and increase their presence online. Second, they are driven by pure SEO motivation.

Business listing as an SEO strategy

There is a widespread belief (or is it a delusion?) among a lot of businesses that if they get their website listed in tens of directories, this will improve their search engine rankings, and will give them an edge over their competitors. Unfortunately, little evidence has been found of the success of such a strategy. It is not that it is a complete waste of time. It just does not return a strong enough result to justify the time and energy invested in repeating the same action over and over again in directories with a questionable reputation.

Nevertheless, there is always a BUT that is worth mentioning. If you have a low page rank, it is not an entirely bad idea to get some extra backlinks from listing sites, regardless of their possibly dubious authority. If you are not that desperate for backlinks, however, it is not worth the time registering on unpopular sites.

It’s not worth doing it just for the backlink

Still, harnessing online business listing in a quest for easy backlinks is rather pointless.

First of all, this implies going to the trouble of having to submit listings to way too many directories, which is a time-consuming activity.

Second, you won’t get results overnight, whatsoever. Getting links from business directories is not a stroll in the park as some may think, but could be an onerous and annoying task. There are directories that have a review time of over 3 months. Those may ask you for a small financial contribution to speed up the process. Others will list you but the links will not appear immediately and you should contact them to resolve the issue.

If you still want to know where you can find more unconventional business directories, a good first step would be to look at what your competitors have done in this department. You can use the SEO marketing software SEMRush, and its link building tool, which presents you with thousands of link building prospects, based on your targeted keywords and competitors. You are guaranteed to stumble upon quite a few business directories while wading through the prospects.

Business listing works with well-known directories

The story changes when we start talking about well-known and reputable directories, and, more importantly, when the business’ purpose drifts away from a mere backlink acquisition.

There is a good number of directories that appear on the first couple of pages on Google when you type in the name of a company (or a product or service) plus the word “reviews”. In this case, “reviews” is the key term. People are known to willingly read reviews left for a company or a product before they decide to do business with the provider in question.

Knowing that the consumer likes to do some prior research and that certain directories appear to be among the first results on Google, we now have a powerful argument supporting the online business listing practice.

More good news is that everybody knows which are the most popular and trusted directories in the UK, so it does not take too much time to collate a list of potential places to register your business. Google My Business, Yell, Thomson Local and Scoot are all among the authoritative sites where users can check the trustworthiness of a business.

It’s a free practice so you only spend time

Online listing is attractive for another reason which should not be underestimated. The majority of business directories are free to use. It is true that some may offer premium service with a subscription fee, but the general rule is that most of the directories cost nothing.

What is more, having already identified the top-of-the-crop sites, there is no need to look for other, suspicious, low-authority directories, which may ask for money not worth spending. It is always recommended that businesses choose quality over quantity, and focus on perfecting their few listings, instead of submitting a ton of half-heartedly prepared submissions just for the sake of the listing (and the backlink).

If you decide to add your business in earnest to credible directories, then the information on every listing should be kept relevant and as detailed as possible. If you know that there is a high chance of getting seen on a particular site, then you better make sure you have created a quality ad.

It does not take too much time to submit listings but you need to keep record of them and update them if any major changes occur. For example, your business may move to new premises or get a new telephone number, and this should instantly be reflected in your directory ads.

In addition to the above, having more information on your listing sends good signals to Google. For example, if you have added your phone number and physical address, this tells the search engine that your site and business actually exist, and your activities will not be considered spammy.

So what’s the overall verdict?

If I had to formulate an answer to the question in the title, it would sound something like that – “It depends on what you need it for, but whatever the reason, stick to quality over quantity”. It will not hurt you if you spend some time refining a couple of listings on prominent sites. You may also want to encourage people to actually review your business so you can build trust with prospective customers who will come across your profile.

At the same time, if you want to resort to this practice just to get a backlink, you have to be aware that those backlinks, even if you get quite a few of them, will not skyrocket you in Google rankings. Impact of backlinks from low-authority sites is limited. Besides, not all of them will be “do-follow” which, some may argue, makes the entire process nonsensical. It would be much more reasonable to refine your listings in distinguished directories. One good inbound link from one such site is better than five from low-quality pages.

Author’s bio: Vladi Nikolov is a copywriter at Liquid 11, working on company’s products SwitchboardFREE and Pocket Receptionist. Vladi is a Media and Politics graduate from the University of East Anglia. His interests cover a range of subjects outside digital marketing and copywriting – Vladi can be easily inspired by good books and rock albums. He is also a keen football fan.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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