are business directories still relevant

Tough Question: Are Business Directories Still Relevant?

With all of the changes that have taken place in search algorithms and social media ranking protocols in the last few years, some time-tested methods for developing web traffic have come into question. One of those is business directories. Are they still valuable? We think the answer is yes, with some caveats. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your business directory listings.

Start with local business directories

Most of the biggest business directories online take locality into consideration when serving up results. Sites like Yelp and are unlikely to show you results for a landscaping company three provinces away. They’ve set their sights on replacing the old yellow page phone directories and they provide a very valuable service.

  • If you search for a service business in your community, directory listings will nearly always be at the top of your search results. This could play in your favour, if your business is included in these lists.
  • Many potential customers are not net-savvy. That makes them more likely to rely on the first results they get.
  • Including yourself in local search directories will definitely increase your backlinks and offpage SEO for local searches, and also creates backlinks that improve your website’s authority over all.

Next move to industry specific directories

If you search “marketing directory” the first dozen or so results will provide you with the most trafficked and respected directories for businesses in the marketing field. This is a good way to find directories that provide value. Avoid low quality directories, as this can actually count against you. By using search result ranking as a guide, you can avoid many of the “directories of ill repute”. The cream usually rises to the top…

  • Start in your industry and add your site to a few directories at a time to get good, organic results, without being dinged for hyper-promotion. Adding too many new backlinks in a short time is often read as “spammy” by Google and other search engines.
  • Search for your top competitors by name in Google to see where they are listed. Positioning yourself across from competitors can help you take advantage of any traffic they generate. Example: two competing pharmacy chains may choose the same intersection for stores. Each benefits from the other.
  • Not only will customers find you here, but a well optimized listing can help you discover others in your industry who need partners with your specialty.

Optimize every directory listing, every time

Take the time to gather the needed information, create good “about us” and services descriptions so that you can take advantage of the entire profile. If you’ve already established keywords, use those in your copy, if not, do your research and develop a list of keywords you’d like to rank for.

  • More complete listings are seen as more relevant in search results. This is true both for search crawlers and spiders that select results and for humans that happen upon your listing.
  • A complete listing helps to qualify customers, increasing your conversion rates for traffic and calls generated from directory listings. Finding out that you do provide a service they are looking for translates into added authority for you in a potential customer’s mind.
  • Weightier backlinks with more content will add more authority to your website, since they are seen as more valuable and informative.

Search directories help in multiple ways and should be a part of every businesses online marketing plan. We’d love to discuss our techniques with you and show you what services we offer. If you found our tips helpful, we’d be happy to have you share a link. Have questions or comments? Leave them here, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.