Consumers are increasingly going online to research local services and products, but for very small businesses (VSBs), this trend is becoming a problem. Fifty-nine percent of VSBs still don’t have websites, with owners often citing perceived cost and lack of technical expertise as reasons why they haven’t made their way online. For business owners who want to create an internet presence, local directories have become a stop-gap solution.
Small businesses can usually get listed in top directories without having their own websites and without paying a dime. Having a claimed listing on a directory site ensures that potential customers will find accurate business information when they search online. The challenge is often knowing where to begin, with thousands of directories, each with varying levels of online authority.
We asked Andrew Shotland, proprietor of Local SEO Guide, about the top local directories that VSBs need to be on.
“The top directories still get lots of traffic, [but] if a directory does not get any traffic in your vertical, it doesn’t matter how much traffic it has overall,” he says. “This is one reason why making sure your data is correct on all of the local directory sites, or at least all of those of a decent size, is a good idea, as you never know which one is going to have your next customer.”
Here are his picks:
1. Google My Business: Making it easier for small brands to get noticed
Google is frequently tweaking its small business listing solutions. Google My Business is at the center of the company’s small business platform. Business owners who’ve been “verified” can influence how their companies are listed with Google and discover various search metrics. Verified local businesses show up on search, maps, and Google+, with updated directions, hours, and phone numbers based on the information the business owner puts in. Google also helps business owners spot online reviews. Businesses can sign up for free.
2. YP: Give searchers a way to get in contact
Print directories are in decline, but a certain group of consumers still holds the Yellow Pages in high regard. More than 70 million people visit YP each month to search through more than 20 million business listings. Merchants can create those listings for free, with Business Profile Pages that include pertinent information like hours of operation, menus, BBB ratings, and links to social media accounts. YP also offers a number of mobile tools for merchants who are interested in getting their businesses listed.
3. Yelp: Collect and respond to customer reviews
Local searchers can use Yelp to find basic information like the hours a business is open, or whether it accepts credit cards, but more often than not it’s the customer reviews that people are after. Yelp is known as the go-to resource for people looking for consumer reviews of local businesses. Merchants who have claimed their Yelp profiles can respond to customer reviews, and they can also post special coupons that anyone can redeem. Businesses can claim their Yelp listings for free.
4. Superpages: An online version of the yellow pages
SuperPages.com is an online resource for consumers looking for information about local businesses. Millions of consumers use the directory to find merchant information, including hours of operation, website links, customer reviews, and driving directions, each month. Superpages.com has been around for years, making it one of the oldest citation sources on this list. Merchants can claim their listings for free. They can also use SuperPages.com’s pay-per-click advertising platform to drive more visitors to their websites.
5. Facebook Local: Get discovered by social media users
For VSBs that don’t have their own websites, Facebook pages often serve as a substitute. Facebook pages give merchants a presence on the large social networking platform, and they can usually be setup within a matter of minutes. Merchant can post about their products and services, and they can create call-to-action buttons to help customers get in contact. Local consumers who use Facebook’s Places Directory can discover new merchants in a number of categories, including shopping, eating, and sightseeing. Although businesses can create local Facebook pages for free, they’ll need to pay to utilize the platform’s advertising tools.
6. Bing Places for Business: Verify listings and prevent unauthorized edits
Bing Places for Business is a portal where small business owners can add and edit their listings on Bing. Given Bing’s growth in the past year—the search engine passed the 20% threshold for market share in 2015—it’s becoming more important for businesses to properly manage their listings on the platform. Millions of unclaimed business listings exist on Bing, and business owners who claim their listings can make edits and updates for free. Claiming a listing also protects it from any unauthorized changes.
Know of other local directories small businesses should be on? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.