How does Google find a business? How can I get my business to the top of Google? Try listing your business on the many different online business directory listings.
Back in the day–before the internet, Google, and social media–people usually found a business’s contact information from the phone book. A person would open the phone book, search by subject or business category, skim the page for either the business they are looking for or whomever looks the best, pick up the phone and make a call (or 3). Believe it or not, times haven’t changed too much. But instead of opening the Yellow Pages, you search Google for a local business listing. Sometimes you’re led straight to a website if you know specifically what you are looking for but in some cases, especially if you are searching by subject or business category, you will be led to an online directory.
Online directories like Yellow Pages, Manta, and Yelp are some of the many places you want to list your business online. Nowadays, instead of just listing your business in the phone book, there are many different options for you to list your business information. And yes, they are all free! They will of course ask you to advertise or buy enhanced listings, but a general listing with business name, phone, address, website and business category is in fact FREE.
So if anyone has ever told you to set up or claim your business directory listings, DO IT! It’s one of the best ways to get the phone ringing, traffic to your website and customers through your door.
There are a few best practices of course.
1. Set Them Up Correctly
First, claiming your directories are very time consuming and a little cumbersome. It takes time and effort but is well worth it. When you begin to set up and claim your directories, take your time and make sure everything is correct. Going back and making changes to update your directory listings can often times be more difficult.
2. Be Ready
Most of the directories require some sort of authorization process to prove you are who you say you are and your business is legitimate. You may be required to enter a verification code that may be sent to you via snail mail to your business address. It usually takes a week or two to receive and is generally a small postcard that can easily get lost in the junk mail pile. Some directories will send you a verification code to you via email or in some cases by telephone. If the code is sent by telephone, you will want to make sure you don’t have a phone tree or automated service answering and you will want whomever is answering the phones to expect the call. The call is usually auto-generated and immediately spits out a code so you will need to be ready with pen and paper.
3. Make a Statement
Most directories will allow you to add your logo and sometimes you can add multiple pictures of your business at no extra charge. Pictures are a great selling point and make a great first impression.
4. Make it Easy to Remember
All online directories require a log in and password with the login usually an email address and password requirements vary. To make things easier, use the same email address for all directories and unless you like spam, create an email address specifically for this task. Because the password requirements vary per directory and it’s easier to have the same password for all, create a password that is at least 8 characters long with a number, capital letter and a symbol. Then store this log in and password somewhere safe. Odds are you won’t need to log back in for a long time unless something changes with your business.
5. Stay Away From Scams
As I said above, the only reason you would need to change something on your online directories is if something in your business changed, like your address or website URL. There are many companies out there who will try to sell you services to maintain or manage your online directory listings for a monthly or annual fee. Again, there is no reason to pay someone to monitor or manage your listings. Paying someone to set up, claim, or update your listing, SURE, but to monitor monthly? NO! Many of these companies are known for deleting your listing the minute you discontinue services with them. Hint: Many of the directories themselves are tied up with these companies and try to sell you the services when you are setting up your directories so be careful.
Setting up and claiming your online directories should be the first step to online marketing, after creating your website. Yes, it’s time consuming but if you are old enough to remember the importance of the phone book, then you understand how important it is to be listed. If you are not old enough to remember the importance of phone books, you probably understand the importance of being found in a Google search and that is just as good. Good luck to you!