Getting Started with Online Business Directories; a Guide for SMBs

Business directories have always played a critical role in the business ecosystem. At one point in 2011, for instance, 75% of adults in the U.S. used print directories to either advertise or locate a business.

This simple tool is especially critical among business owners. Not only does it give you a platform to advertise your business, but directory listings are also one of the most significant sources of traffic, hot leads, and sales. In 2011, for every $1 spent on a directory listing, businesses earned $15 on average!

Astounding, right?

Well, you can still enjoy all these benefits by listing with an online business directory. Here’s everything you need to know to get started with online directories;

What’s an Online Business Directory?

An online business directory is a website with business listings. These listings provide basic business information. At the bare minimum, a directory will list the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of the business. Business directory listings are typically categorized by location, activities, size, or other factors.

Benefits of Listing with an Online Business Directory

Similar to traditional business directories, listing with an online directory comes with plenty of benefits, including;

  • Significant exposure 

Every business needs exposure. It’s the only way to reach more people and new markets. Without proper exposure, you’ll mostly rely on sales from customers who already know you, and, at best, hope for word-of-mouth recommendations. Online directories give you substantial exposure. Millions of people visit these directories on any given day to discover new businesses and service providers.

  • Increased traffic and leads

Once people discover your business in an online directory, those who take an interest in your products, services, and offers will likely click through to visit your website. Or, if you’ve provided a phone number, they can call or send you a text message. Sometimes it could be hundreds of people calling in a single day!

  1. More conversions/sales 

The more traffic you get from your listing, the higher the potential for sales. Why? Because people who visit online business directories are serious about making a purchase. By the time someone heads to a directory, they’re usually very close to converting. According to one research by Burke, 8-in-10 people who visit a directory do so with the intent to buy immediately.  

  • SEO benefits 

Finally, directories also significantly boost search engine optimization (SEO) performance. For one, Google and other search engines use directories as a key source of information. Listed businesses are considered authentic, thus ranked better. Additionally, quality directories will help you earn invaluable links. Links are a vital ranking factor for all the major search engines.

How to Get Started with Online Business Directories

Now that you know how much you can benefit from an online business directory, the next step is to get your business listed. Here’s how to proceed;

  • Identify the right local directories

For small businesses, getting found in local directories can be the best thing that ever happens to your business, especially if you get listed in a niche-specific directory. You’ll get lots of calls, SMS messages, emails, and web visits from people searching for your products and services in the local town or neighborhood.

  • Join the bigger directories too

A major advantage of the bigger directories is that they have a wider reach. If you’re looking to reach a national audience, for instance, such a directory would instantly put you on the map. Some directories even have an international audience. For global brands, listing with a few such directories would be an excellent move.

  • Provide the necessary business information

Aside from your business name, address, and phone, it would also help if customers knew things such as your open hours, products & services, and locations. Also, provide a few reviews, add several quality images, and offer directions. Maps, such as Google Maps, would be ideal.

  • Maintain consistency 

Your business information, especially NAP, must be consistent across all the directories where the business is listed. You can’t give one phone number at and list a completely different number in the next directory. It creates confusion. Customers and search engines will be asking – “so, which is the right phone number?”

  • Optimize your listings for SEO

Finally, business directory listings show up in search engine result pages all the time. But, your listing must be SEO-optimized to show up. So, don’t forget to include your keywords in your meta titles and listing descriptions. Also, remember to optimize for local searches.

It Doesn’t Even Cost Much

If cost has been your major worry until now, you should know that listing with an online directory costs very little. It’s pennies compared to what online ads cost. Yet, directories guarantee a higher return on investment!

Drew Neisser