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Can free web directories deliver new customers to your business?

I’ll hedge my answer on this and say yes, no, and it depends.

This is the second post in a series about establishing your digital business identity. If you have not read the first post, you can find it here.

Yes, free web directories can help deliver new business

Directories can send business your way. Every industry has different industry specific web directories, or location specific directories. Most of these allow you to list a limited amount of info about your business for free and charge you to add more specific info, such as a website.

They also work to support your business on Google by taking up more search spots in your local suburb/town. If you can tie up 2 or 3 spots on the first page of Google with your website and some directory listings, you get more coverage than your competition.

Web directories can also support your website’s Google position. You want your website to rank as close to the top as possible, but to do this Google needs to believe you are important enough in your local market for them to push you to the top.

Web directories can support your website’s local Google search ranking, as long as the contact and business information you enter into web directories is consistent. Avoid using a region like Nambucca Valley in one directory and Nambucca Heads in another and use the same phone number, not a mobile in one and landline in another.

Web Directory Checklist

  • Make sure each time you list your local address it is the same. Don’t use a PO Box on one directory and a physical address on another.
  • Keep your street address the same on all directories and try not to abbreviate.
  • Keep the phone number the same on all directories. Choose a mobile or landline and stick to that one for all directories.
  • Always list a suburb/town, not a region (Nambucca Heads; not Nambucca Valley).
  • The main thing is to keep the information you list on directories the same.
  • Focus on directories on the first two pages and if you have time, maybe the third page too. The first two pages are the most important.

Before you list your business on all the available directories, please read to the end of this post as I have a few other tips you need to consider first.

Should you pay any web directories?

Unless the directory is crucial to your business like Trip Advisor, and you know others with the same business as yours are getting good results, I wouldn’t pay. The only other directories I would consider paying for are the ones that show up in the first 3 positions of the first page of Google in your local town/suburb.

No, you won’t be able to live on the business directories deliver

Your business won’t be flooded with new customers from free web directories; unless you’re listed on industry specific directories, such as those for restaurants and accommodation businesses and you are towards the top and have excellent reviews.

You will find the business you get from web directories to be spotty and at worst you may get nothing. It’s more about the indirect advantages free web directories can provide.

Some directories will list you, even without your permission, by scraping your details from somewhere else on the web. The problem with this is they may scrape from another directory that’s scraped it from some other source. If the wrong info was scraped in the first place, you will have the wrong listing everywhere, and it’s something you will need to correct.

The thing here is that if you have not entered the correct info or corrected incorrect info these free directory listings could damage your business. You need to see what’s out there and make sure it’s what you want your potential customers to see.

Directories not only list you; but your competitors too

When someone searches for a service and jumps into a directory listing, they’re not just seeing your business but a list of all your competitors too. There could be a couple of listings or 10 or more on that page. With each competitor listed, the chance of someone clicking on your link diminishes considerably.

Will free web directories send new customers your way?

It depends on a few things

The success you get from local web directories depends on having the following in place, before you list your business.

First, list yourself on Google directly, using a free Google My Business (GMB) listing.

Google My Business is a way for you to list your business on Google directly, and it’s free. Once you set it up, there is not a lot of work to do, but don’t make the mistake of forgetting it completely. The other outstanding reason to get your GMB listing done is it will appear above any other web directory listing. Google owns Google, and it’s not surprising they give themselves priority.

At least add an image or a link to a social media post or an update to your product or service once every month to your GMB listing. This keeps your listing fresh in Google’s eyes and your customer can see the lights are on and someone is home, so to speak.

Google wants fresh content. Give Google what it wants, at least once a month, and your listing will benefit.

You can read this article I wrote on GMB, and you can watch this video for more in-depth information on the benefits and features of a Google My Business listing.

Google references web directories and other sources to confirm you are a local business. If you appear on enough directories and the info listed is consistent across the Internet, your GMB listing will get some Google love and push you towards the top of the other GMB listings in your local area.

Second, It’s advisable to have your own business website before you list yourself on directories

Web directories can improve your websites position on Google too, but you need a website first. Your website and your GMB listing will take two slots on the first page of Google results, and then your free directory listings may show up to.

You corner your market and show dominance on the web for your locality

Extending your free web directory listings, including your GMB listing

Once you have a website, you may be able to link it to your web directory listing. This extends your directory listing and drives potential customers to your website.

The information you can list on directories is always limited, but if you can list your website, you should do it. This gives your potential customer a way of getting more extensive information about who you are, what you do. What business owner doesn’t want that!

Listing your business on local directories

First, use the notepad app on a Windows computer or a text only app on a Mac and add your business information: business name, phone, address, email, and a description to this note and create a file that you can use to copy and paste into each directory.

This keeps the information you add to directories consistent, and because it’s just a clean text file, it will be easy to paste this info into the web directories. Sometimes using Microsoft Word adds its own messy formatting, and you don’t want that.

Action Steps

Once you have this information ready to go, proceed with:

  • Doing a search on Google for your business name and your suburb/town
  • Go through the first 3 pages, starting from the 1st page, and at least note all the web directories that are listed.
  • Bookmark each of these and on each directory, search for your details and see what comes up.
  • If any info comes up, create a free account and edit the information and copy and paste the info from your text file. Take note somewhere of each directory you add yourself to and check your email for a confirmation of your listing. Most directories will want to check the email you listed is correct and as for your confirmation.
  • If you don’t appear on a directory, then add yourself to it using the info you added to your plain text file.

If you’re too busy and don’t have the time or inclination to do this yourself, we have a service that can do all this for you. We charge $265 to add you to local directories, which includes claiming and setting up your Google My Business listing.

Contact us here for more info on our listing service.

As mentioned, it is advisable to have a website setup before you add yourself to free directories, but this does not have to be a huge project. You can start with a one-page website which will extend all your directories and other advertising.

See this page for more info on our 1 Page Impact Product.

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Authored by, Ian Mackenzie
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Ian Mackenzie

Photography enthusiast, Tech Blogger, Digital Marketing Consultant, Web Designer, Public Speaker, and unfortunately a very ordinary golfer—at the moment.

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