Small business owners are always looking for ways to get more customers, both online and in person. One of the most powerful ways you can reach a wider audience is to get involved with local directory site listings. When your business appears there, you increase the chances and the number of ways that potential customers can discover you.
Local directories are trusted listing sites and social communities that specialize in indexing small businesses, according to category and geography. Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor and Google Local (formerly called Google Places) are among the most famous of these sites, but there are many more. People looking for places to eat, shop, sleep and commission services often refer to the content on local directory sites to see what the communities of users there have to say in the comments and ratings. But perhaps more importantly, Google search holds many of these sites in high regard, so when you’re listed on good local directory websites, your business will quickly receive a dramatic boost in search rankings. Search engine optimization (SEO), the hunt for the top results on Google for the search terms relevant to your business, is a tricky discipline that’s constantly evolving. But listing on local directories remains one of the SEO tactics that’s easiest and offers the most impact.
Thanks to the rising popularity and usefulness of smartphones, people are increasingly interested in finding businesses that offer what they want nearby. Searching the web for local information is considered to be the activity that people use their smartphones for more than any other. Search engines are paying close attention to this trend and are changing they way they display results accordingly, with “geo-targeted” content receiving more of an emphasis – especially when the searcher uses keywords that suggest “local intent.”
Back in the old days, an integral part of any SEO strategy was submitting your website to web and article directories. Google would view these links as evidence that your business is respected and deserving of promotion. But these directory sites started to attract more spam than valuable information, and Google gradually stopped recognizing their authority. However, there are many local business directories that still have great reputations, and Google uses these as “citations,” or trusted sources for information, when deciding how to rank your website. Local search optimization is, therefore, the only remaining valuable SEO tactic that relies heavily on directory submissions.
With Google penalizing websites with links to shady directories, how do you know which ones are legit? A great starting point is this big list published by Hubspot. And here you can see a handy comparison of the capabilities and limitations of 13 leading ones. Submitting your website is easy: all you have to do is fill out your business information. Once you’ve been verified, your listings will go live. With your business appearing all over strong local directories, Google’s algorithms for local search will be sure to recognize you for the legitimate business you are. Within weeks, search results pages will be more likely to even display your five-star user ratings, map location and other key information that will encourage users to visit your website.
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