Directories are not as popular as they used to be ten years ago. Yahoo! and Google have since rested their directories, although Google has moved to a different listing format by locality – Google Places. However, directories are still relevant, especially if you want to extend your reach through the internet.
Directories have evolved since the days of Yahoo!. Listings are now localised and interactive. Customers can send you an email or call you at a click of the button (without needing to type anything), including drop feedback or rate your services. With Google Maps integration, you can get directions to a store via Google Maps through a directory listing.
So what are the current benefits of listing your business in an online directory?
You are more visible online.
Listing your business in a major online directory makes it easier for people to find your business online. With online search becoming more local, people either visit local directories to search for companies or search online. Online searches return major websites at the top of search results which are usually directory listings. Hence if you are not listed, you are missing out. Very few people will visit your site to look for you unless you have name recognition and are at the top of people’s minds when searching for that service.
It gives your business greater legitimacy.
With the increase of online scams and identity theft, people are wary of doing business online with websites they don’t know hence may not trust. They have no way of knowing if your business is registered or legitimate. That is more so if the searcher is based overseas.
Directories are human edited and often verify listings; hence visitors to directories believe listed companies are legitimate. To be listed in Google Places, you need to be verified. That includes presenting your certificate of incorporation and proof of address. Many users write to directories to ask if a business is legitimate, if not listed in the directory. Hence listing in a directory sends the message that your business is genuine and engender trust among online users.
It is cheaper to advertise in a directory
Aside from a regular listing, directories offer premium services that boost your listing and place you in the front of potential customers seeking your services. The packages are often cheaper than advertising on other platforms on a monthly or annual basis.
Even with regular listings, your listing is your page – an online web presence. You can showcase your goods and services, promotional materials without any limitations (as you are not sharing the page with other listings). That includes short articles, brochures, pictures, audio and videos. You can also advertise your promos and giveaways. All you need to do is to claim your listing and publish what you want (within agreed guidelines).
Improve your business reputation
Current directory listings enable comments and ratings. Hence your satisfied customers can leave glowing 5-star reviews, which encourages other undecided customers to try your service. A good review not only attracts new customers but also helps you rank higher in search within the directory and search engines (as listing also have social media likes and shares which is a factor in search rankings).
A review is a valuable form of feedback, especially negative ones. It makes your business look genuine, as no one is perfect. You can use this to improve your service, which shows that you are humble and respond to customer complaints. You can also reach out to the client that left a negative review to make it right if possible. The now satisfied customer may be inspired to update the feedback. That is a good learning experience for your business.
Improve your search engine ranking (SEO)
Getting links from authority sites is a key consideration in search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine ranking. Most people go online to look for information. Their first port of call is usually Google more than any other site. You will hear the phrase: “Just Google it”.
There are more potential clients online than you can ever meet face to face. Unless you have deep pockets for massive advertisements, the cheapest way to get customers is free through the search engines. They go to Google, type in your type of business, e.g. interior decorator in Ikeja – and your business comes up.
Thank means your name showing up on the first page when people look for your services. If you don’t rank in the first two pages of the search engine result page, you don’t exist to many people. Most do not go past page one.
Few companies can afford the overhead of maintaining a webmaster to manage their website, add new content regularly and grow SEO. The fact that you have a website does not mean that people will visit it. Being listed in a directory boosts your search engine ranking over time, which leads to more exposure, traffic and ultimately customers.