Gone are the days when a business laid down an annual sum to have its information listed in the Yellow Pages.
These days it’s crucial for small businesses to instead prominently list themselves in multiple online directories. Consider this, four out of five consumers in the U.S. now use search engines to find local businesses. Perhaps more importantly, 50 percent of those conducting local searches by smartphone visit the business in question within the same day, and 18 percent move forward with a purchase that day. To make sure your business is found, we’ve outlined the top 20 places your business needs to be listed. And we’ve even added a few lesser-known directories as a bonus.
What to include in your online business listing
Google research shows customers most frequently seek company hours, product information, business location, and directions. Many also put great stock in online reviews by other customers, with 88 percent trusting these reviews as much as personal recommendations. Other studies point to searcher demand for coupons and special offers.
So how do you decide which search engine — or engines — to list in?
Google My Business
The Goliath of search engines, of course, is Google. So it’s no surprise when prioritizing which online listings to pursue, experts often recommend starting with the free-of-charge Google My Business (GMB). After all, Google far outperforms every other search engine, logging an average 7.8 billion searches per day last year.
One of the greatest benefits of GMB is its listing of your business’s exact location on a mobile-friendly map — a huge boon to the 1.3 billion smartphone users expected to populate the U.S. by 2020.
“You will be far more visible to the vast majority of users of both Android and iPhones searching for businesses within a 5-kilometer radius,” Google advises, pointing to the SEO edge the tool provides in promoting small, local businesses over more generic corporations. “Local searchers do not want to be constantly bombarded with the same old big names that may or may not truly offer the service or product they are seeking.”
GMB consistently shows up high in online searches, boosts your website’s SEO rankings to optimize traffic, posts reviews from your customers, and allows you to include in your profile printable coupons, special offers, videos, images, opening hours, preferred payment methods, and other meaningful information. Its Analytics function also allows you to track who’s searching for you and what other sites they’ve visited. The free and easy registration process for GMB is available here.
Top 20 Places
Twenty other relevant directories that could increase exposure for your business include:
Bing Places for Business: Only Google outpaces this free Microsoft product in visits, and you can add multiple business locations, photos, videos, and more during your fast, free, and easy registration. Because Bing is the default search engine for desktop and tablet versions of Windows 8, some tablet, desktop, and laptop owners opt for Bing over Google. Enroll here.
Yahoo Local Listing: Ranking third next to Google and Bing, Yahoo’s service draws millions of searches daily. A basic listing is free, but $9.95/month allows you to add photos and a company description, and $29.99/month buys you listings in more than 40 other online directories. “Although Yahoo is no longer the search engine giant it once was, Yahoo Local is a great supplement to your online local strategy,” advises Amanda DiSilvestro on SearchEngineWatch.com. Create your listing here.
Yelp is one of the best online sources for candid consumer reviews. Bonus: It allows you to send public or private messages (including deals) to customers and review business trends using the Yelp reporting tool. In terms of demographics, 42 percent of Yelp users are 18 to 34, 61 percent are college grads and 46 percent earn $100,000 or more annually. The most reviewed categories on Yelp include shopping, restaurants, and home services respectively. Enroll here.
MerchantCircle is a free network targeted toward small businesses seeking to connect with local customers and other small businesses in their areas. Users can advertise to boost their listings, post business blogs, and take advantage of free marketing tools aimed at building their business. The more active they are online, the more local exposure they gain. Create a listing here.
Yellow Pages: This well-organized online version of the antiquated classic generates millions of daily searches. It offers advertising, lead generation, and detailed ad performance data. Company research from last year points to 70 million visitors across the YP app and YP.com combined, with digital revenues exceeding $1 billion in 2014. The company considers itself “the No. 2 local search destination in the U.S.” Enroll through this link.
White Pages: This lists some 30 million companies, offering sponsored ad opportunities and a premium text message service