Online directory listings are an important part of any local SEO strategy. More than that, though, business listing websites should be considered an important component of any marketing strategy for local businesses. After all, local SEO is about giving the right information, to the right people, at the right time, in order to generate brand awareness and increase traffic and sales.
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For agencies, the big question regarding listings management is: “which business listing websites should my client use?” You have the big ones like Google Business, Yelp, and Apple Maps listings. What other directories are out there? And, out of the hundreds of them out there, which ones make sense for your client’s business?
This guide walks you through the steps to finding local business directories. It also offers tips for choosing the listings websites that make sense for your clients.
Ensure you’ve covered the big online directories
Before you research business listing websites, make sure your client is on the “big” ones. These include Google Business, Apple Maps, Yelp, and Facebook profiles.
Those aren’t all of the important business listing websites. Some other big players include:
- Better Business Bureau
- Yahoo Small Business
There are others, including BizJournals.com and Insider Pages.
Don’t forget about the YellowPages, which is the third-ranked public directory in the US (SimilarWeb). The YellowPages family of directories includes YP.com, as well as local country versions of the YellowPages. Whitepages, Yellowbook, and Superpages are all associated with YP. Creating a listing with YP.com can help you get your client listed across all of the YP-associated sites.
Best of all, these sites offer free business listings. Some, like the YellowPages, make their money from advertising campaigns. Creating a local business listing doesn’t mean you need to run an ad campaign on the site, though.
Research industry associations
Your next stop is checking to see if your client works with any industry associations. This is especially helpful if those associations have local chapters.
For example, a professional association may license veterinarians in a given state. If so, check in with that body and see if they maintain a list of businesses and practitioners. Someone looking for a veterinarian might decide to go to the association. They trust the association can help them find a trustworthy clinic close to them.
The same is often true of other professionals, such as dentists, doctors, and lawyers. Manufacturers may have associations. Many who operate in the trades also have professional associations. These associations might offer training, licensing, or accreditation, as well as online listing directories.
Why do associations maintain business directories? It helps:
- the profession in general
- the association members gain visibility
- the public find professionals to help them with tasks
Think about local business hubs
Many cities and municipalities allow businesses to list with them online. There may be local business associations that operate online directories. Some might support particular industries, such as a tourism association. You might also check in with the local Chamber of Commerce.
This can be helpful for local businesses as they can reach local residents. Many people visit city websites to access information about local programs, events, and businesses. Some cities maintain a business directory to help residents connect with the small and medium businesses in their area.
A tourism association might list restaurants, museums, and other local attractions. A business association may maintain a list of shops in a certain area. A local manufacturers’ association might list all the manufacturing operations in town.
These are hyper-local resources that are often overlooked in favor of listings on Google, Apple, and Yelp. Nonetheless, they help make your clients visible to their local customers. They also add more citations to your client’s online profile, which can help with search engine optimization (SEO).
If you’re not sure where to start, then you might want to check out ChamberofCommerce.com. It includes listings for all 50 states. From there, you can locate your client’s local chapter.
Look for business listing websites that focus on local listings
There are many online directories that focus almost exclusively on providing local listings. Some of these, like the YellowPages, are well known. Others are smaller, but they’re powerful search engines for finding local businesses. These include sites like:
- Business Local Pages
- Just a Local Business
Each of these sites provides an online directory that focuses on local business. Better yet, they offer free business listings.
These business listing websites also offer more data points for local SEO. Every citation is important, since it helps increase visibility and improve your client’s SEO (Search Engine Journal).
Conduct some research online for business listing websites
If you want to create more citations for your clients, you can also start by searching for “business listing websites” on a search engine. This will bring up quite a few articles from a wide variety of sources.
Some articles list as few as 10 websites they consider “essential” to list on. Others list 50 or even 100+ business directory websites you can choose from.
Your next step is picking the best websites to list your clients on based on your location, goals, and industry. To figure this out, you may want to read a few different articles from different sources.
For this step, it’s likely a good idea to stay away from articles that list their top 10 picks. These are usually lists of “the big” directories, like Google Business, Yelp, and Facebook. You likely knew about those sites and were going to list on them anyway. As result, those "top-10" style articles aren't as helpful as others may be.
In this case, it’s better to look at some of the more comprehensive business directory lists. Yes, 100 or even 500 different sites can be a lot to sort through. This is where comparing several articles can be helpful. Some of those websites are going to be mentioned in many articles.
If you see a website on each list, then you might want to do some more research.
Are there some sites not worth listing on?
When it comes to local citation building, it’s often the more the merrier. With hundreds of online directories out there, you might wonder if you need to list your clients on all of them.
It usually doesn’t hurt to add another listing. As noted, more citations mean more data points for search engines.
That said, not every online directory is one you need to list on. There are some directories that do not generate much traffic and others that are irrelevant to your a client’s business. If you’re concerned about managing listings, then you could focus on sites that get a certain amount of traffic.
This is especially true when it comes to sites that charge. It’s free to list on Google Business, and GMB profiles tend to generate conversions—users are almost 30 percent more likely to convert if you have a complete profile (Google). Other sites might want to charge a fee for listing, even though they’re much smaller.
Here, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons. How much is the fee? If it’s quite high, then you want to know that the listing will provide a benefit for your client.
A listing in a professional association, for example, might cost quite a bit but it could be the most valuable as it connects your client's business with the association. An association listing is like a stamp of approval for search users. It also makes your client look better in search engine algorithms. Your client isn’t just an electrician—they’re a licensed, accredited electrician.
A city’s local business directory may also charge a fee. These sites get less traffic than Google, so you might wonder if it’s worth it. The answer is often yes. Why? Residents may turn to the city website as a trusted resource. People from out of town may also come across it when they’re looking for things to do or places to go when they visit.
Managing several business listing websites effectively
There may be a few online directories that you decide to skip for your clients. For the most part, though, online directories are worth it.
If you want to pare down the list of citations because you’re concerned about management, it's time to find new tech tools. Local listing management software helps you keep profiles up to date across directories.
Listing management services can also help you discover new business listing websites. They also help you manage the profiles you’ve already created for clients.
Help your clients be discovered
Having many listings in online business directories helps your clients’ local SEO efforts. That’s a great reason to make sure they’re listed on many different platforms.
An even more compelling reason to make sure your clients are on many business listing websites is that it helps their customers find them. Google Business Profile might be the “best” place to list, but it’s hardly the only place people discover local businesses.
Creating profiles for your clients on many business listing websites means they’ll be wherever their customers look for them. With the right tech on your side, more listings can mean more visibility—and not more work.