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  • automated appointment reminders & follow-up

by Justin King

June 1, 2020

portland local seo
96 / 100

Improve Your SEO with Online Directories

Just about every business today has a website, and everyone wants to increase their page rankings for that website. To do this, they have to optimize it to make it easier for the search engines to find. In order to do that they have to employ different search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Online directories are a great way for you to do this.

Online directories typically have a higher “page authority” than other websites. This authority allows them to appear on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP), typically very high. When a business is listed in that directory (imagine a plumber on Angie’s List), they and their website also appear in the top spots of the SERP. This is one of the best ways online directories help improve a business’ SEO.

Fortunately, all directories will allow a business to place their website address somewhere within the listing. This link in the online directory will count as a “vote” for that website. The more votes, or backlinks, a website has, the higher it will appear in the SERP. When businesses have multiple listings across different directories, each listing is then essentially considered a vote, because it contains the backlink to the business website. This can help the website appear higher in the search engines, even when the user is not looking in a directory. Win!

portland local seo
Online directory listings are like votes, and more “votes” mean higher SERP rankings.

Google My Business reigns supreme!

The amount of SEO benefits your online directory listings bring to your business will depend on the directory you use. Some are ranked higher than others, and some are ranked so low creating a listing there could actually hamper your SEO efforts. However, just having a listing on Google My Business is said to increase a website’s ranking by 1.5 points.

SEO may not be at the top of every business owner’s mind. For those with a website though, it should be. Creating listings in online directories is one of the easiest ways to improve it.

Target Your Market Better with Online Directories

Small service business owners know just how expensive marketing can be. Typically, this is the one area of the budget businesses spend the most on. When making this investment, it’s important to know that the marketing messages will reach the right target market, so advertising dollars aren’t wasted. In the past, it has sometimes been difficult for business owners to target the right market. Online directories have changed that though, making even more of your marketing dollar.

Online directories are such effective marketing tools because the business listings within them are only shown to people that are already searching for those businesses. Consumers go online, knowing exactly what they’re looking for, and they perform a quick search for that product or service. When they find the business, they don’t have to be overly sold to, because they already wanted to make a purchase.

credit card being swiped online directories
When your directory listing brings you hot leads, purchases aren’t far behind.

This doesn’t mean though, that customers will automatically choose your business. Unless you have no competition in the immediate area, your competitor’s listings will also likely appear right alongside yours. It’s important to remember this when creating profiles and accounts.

“Your test won’t be graded unless completely filled out”

Customers are more likely to want to learn more about a business when their listing is completely filled out, there are reviews within the listing, and include rich features, such as pictures and videos, too. That will make your listing stand out better than your competitor’s, and that will make leads more likely to purchase from your business.

Online directories can greatly help business owners target the right market. However, targeting the right market is only half of the equation and simply having a listing is not enough. Your listings have to be dynamic and professional, particularly when compared with your competition. When they are, it will convert your leads in the target market into actual customers.

Set it and Forget it with Online Directories

Many marketing campaigns take constant maintenance. Facebook ads need to be managed, and print ads need to be proofed and updated. Campaigns often require constant tinkering. Marketing through an online directory though, simply by creating a listing for your business, is very low maintenance. Once a listing has been created, you can essentially ‘set it and forget it.’

When your business listing has been created properly from the start, not much needs to be done in the future with the listing. If the entire profile is filled out, and all the rules of specific directories are followed, then you can likely leave it as is for a little while. It shouldn’t require a lot of micromanaging.

That’s not to say though, that a listing will never need to be managed. When information within your listing is out of date and incorrect, it can backfire on the business. The listing’s ranking within the directory might fall, and the ranking of your business’ website may also fall.

Time for a UNAP?

Because of this, it’s important to make sure your listings are updated any time there is a major change. If the business moves, has a new phone number, or changes its website’s domain address, these listings should be changed to reflect that. These parts are called NAP, UNAP, or WNAP, with the difference being url or website in addition to name, address, and phone number.

Even when major changes haven’t been made within the business, you should still review all your listings every four to six months. The information should be checked to ensure accuracy and reviews should be read to ensure you haven’t missed any. At this time, you can also update the listing with new photos, videos, or posts.

The time spent every several months to review and update your listing shouldn’t be very long. Without verification processes and registration forms to fill out, it will take just a fraction of the time it did to create the listing. And it will certainly be much less time than what is spent on other types of marketing campaigns.

Online Directories have an Incredible Return on Investment

When you invest your business’ money into advertising, you want to know that it’s going to work. While some campaigns may cost more than others, it still sometimes makes sense to run them because they deliver a high return on investment. Although you may spend hundreds of dollars on a campaign, you’re hoping to make thousands from the new customers it brings in. When considering the best returns on investment (ROI) in the marketing world, online directories cannot be overlooked.

portland local seo
The return on investment from online directories is an advertising cost that can’t be beat.

First consider that many online directories are free. Google My Business, one of the leading directories, is completely free. Plus, most business owners are advised to have a listing in this directory, even if they have no other listings. This means that any lead you capture, and any visitor that’s converted into a customer through GMB has a 100% return on investment. This is also true with Bing Places, YellowPages.com, and many other large directories that are entirely free to use.

“One does not simply get listings for free.”

Not all online directories are free. Some have small monthly fees, while others can become quite costly. Others, such as Foursquare, have a small one-time fee after which, it is free for you to create and maintain your business listing.

Even these fees though, are very small when compared to the amount of revenue it will bring into your business. Most consumers visit, or at least contact, a business after finding them in an online directory. And online directories are used a lot.

Never forget: 50 percent of all Google searches are for a local business!

Putting a portion of your company’s budget towards different marketing efforts is something that should not be avoided. With online directories though, it should be possible.

An Increase in Conversions is the Biggest Benefit of Online Directories

All business owners want to increase their conversions. You want to be able to find more leads, capture them, and turn them into actual customers. It’s the goal of everything you do for your business. Online directories have many benefits, but helping you get those leads and more customers in your door is by far the biggest.

The very nature of online directories is what allows them to do this. Today consumers go online before they purchase anything. When they do, the business listings in online directories are often the first thing they see. For example, when a customer searches for a business, product, or service in Google, the Google 3-pack appears before any other search result. Facebook pages are often the first result seen when customers search for businesses.

When customers see these search engine results, they click on the link and learn more about the business. They learn about the products and services they offer, what their hours of operation are, and in many cases can even call the business. This is very effective. More than half of users that visit a business, or their listing, online using a mobile device visit the business within the same day of searches. Approximately one-third of users that make the same search on a laptop or desktop computer will also visit a business within a day after making a search.

While you’re digesting that, consider these statistics:

  • 1. 88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. (Nectafy)
  • 2. 46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information.
  • 3. 97% searched online to find a local business  (Source: Hubspot)
  • 4. 71% of customers look to confirm the address before visiting a new store.
  • 5. 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps
  • 6. Search beats social media by more than 300% as a traffic source. (imForza)
  • 7. An average consumer reads seven reviews to develop an opinion about a company.

By simply placing your business in online directories, you are greatly increasing your chances of customers seeing it. They also will be learning more about your business. Directories have been one of the best ways for businesses to increase their conversions for several years, and that momentum is not going to slow down any time soon.

portland local seo online directories
If the above statistics weren’t enough, enjoy this double dose of online directories love.

What Now?

These five reasons should have painted a clear picture why local Portland service businesses should use online directories. SEO is vital to rankings and directories can help you achieve this. Any leads you get from directory listings will be better targeted, and qualifying these leads will be much faster. We’ve also learned that directories need very little updating and maintenance. That is unless the businesses name, address, phone, or website information changes, of course.

The two most noticeable benefits directories offer are an amazing ROI and an increase in conversions. Following best practices, listing your business, and occasionally checking in to make sure your listings are accurate, you should be able to grow your business and enjoy the benefits they offer.

The Yellow Pages were never as sexy as when Barry White read them for The Simpsons’ Book Of Moe. Even if you’re not a sultry Barry-tone, you can still use online directories with excellent results.

About the author 

Justin King

Justin King has been studying digital marketing for 4 years, with a focus on SEO and direct response. He works from his Oregon home, nestled between 3 giant sequoias in the first city west of the Mississippi. Justin gets a big kick out of northwest IPA's, New Orleans brass band-hip hop mashups, guiding whitewater raft trips, and keeping his Navajo res-dog from escaping from their tiny yard.

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