Local Business Directories, The true cost
Being a business owner in your local area, it is more than likely that you have been told by a number of different sources that you should insert your business to a number of different directories, e.g. The Yellow pages or Yelp. Business owners use these to allow them to improve their visibility on Google. If you are hearing about this for the first time, it may sound easy.
When I first heard of this process it seemed that all you would have to do is sign up to some of these services, maybe opt-in to a couple of different things to get a link to my website onto the profile of, for example, Yell.com.
But I was wrong, terribly wrong. The truth behind this is that if you wish to go the D.I.Y route, there are many local business listings you need to obtain. Some of which offer free listings, paid listings, as well as some that come as packages on multiple different networks.
As well as this there are local data providers. Now these people may not actually be directories themselves, but they can certainly help you.
Throughout this post, I will be going through the various costs of listing your business on these directories.
Being a business owner, your main factor is time, so it’s vital that you record and take note of the amount of time you use up to create and manage a local listing for your business. Keep reading to find out what it is you need to do to find the right directory to list your business in.
Ranking your business
The first step you should take is to research your current position. Find out how easy (or hard) it is to find your company online. This also gives you the opportunity to find listings you may already have that need to be claimed.
The directories that are displayed when you search for your business are the ones you need to approach first. Simply because these are the directories your possible clients are viewing. Keeping these directories up to date is vital, especially if you do not have a presence on social media or at least have a website. Keeping information like opening hours and what the business has to offer is essential.
These directories will be the most simple to deal with as the listing already exists. The majority of business directories will hand over a link to aid you in beginning the process.
However each directory is different, depending on which one you are using you may need to check a number of different places to find the link you will need to claim your business. Common places to look are at the top of the listing or in some cases in the header or footer of the directories page.
If you fail to claim your business, it holds you back from editing the listing, adding in vital information to allow potential clients to know exactly what you have to offer etc. As well as this, claiming the listing allows you to receive notifications on any reviews or public views your business gets.
Now you have located the listings that already exist, it’s time to find new places to list your company through the directories. Before you do this, it’s a very good idea to do some research, find out which directory is used most for your particular industry, from this you will find some of the competitor companies in the local area.
Now you can create listings on these directories, or you may have a different view on it, maybe you could use a directory that your competitors do not use, that way there is less competition.
Ranking for your keywords
As always, your keywords in search are absolutely essential. You should search these keywords to see which local directories come up in the first 10 results. Most keyword searches relating to businesses in the local area push you towards your own website, business listings in local business directories or even your competitors website.
Assure you obtain a listing on the local business directories that your competitors are ranked on. You can even think about doing paid sponsorships or even paid advertising to make sure that it’s your business that shows up first in the category. Simply because that particular page is receiving heavy traffic from the audience you want to attract.
Ranking in the mobile world
Once you have completed all of the research for the directories that are currently ranking your business along with your competitors, you need to do the same for the mobile world. What this allows you to do is locate any additional directories that mobile users tend to use.
Did you know?
Half of mobile searchers wind up using a local store to complete a purchase.
So as you would guess. Listing your business in a directory which is used by mobile users is an important factor to success.
Claiming and creating directory listings
By now you are probably thinking that finding the best local directory is somewhat time consuming. Well take a deep breath, because here comes the really long bit.
I mean, some directories make it fairly simple, the rest, well they have a more complicated way of getting things done.
Verifying the business listing is usually the most complicated part. Many networks only require you to verify your email address. Others may need you to complete an automated call (or text) service. Some go the extra mile and may need to speak to you through a live call just to confirm your listing (and to try sell you some additional features).
But it gets worse. Some directories require you to verify the business through the post. This means, as you may have already guessed, you could be waiting some time (7-14 days) to verify your listing.
If you are attempting to claim the listing for your business in which you need to update the address or the phone number, then you will need to find some free time to contact the support team for the particular directory, if you fail to do so you will not be able to claim your business by email or by phone.
You have now got a rough idea of how much time you will need to invest into finding, claiming and creating a listing in a local business directory. It’s time to look at the real damage, the actual cost. While some of the best local directories are free of charge. Premium listings may include your website link being included in the listing, putting your listing in more than one category, adding media and disabling adverts.
Pricing for this service can range from £20 – £350 per annum. The reason for such a big gap isn’t because some directories are better than others. Some directories sell listings in groups (hence the high prices), not a bad idea if you are attempting to list your company under many directories.
So how are you meant to make such a decision?
How do you know which listings are worth the money you will be paying? If you are looking at directories that are not on the first page on Google when you search your business name, your keywords or your competitors there is some research you can do to make sure you make the right choice.
Check the traffic
There are many different software packages you can use to check a website’s traffic. You can use SEMrush free of charge for the first 10 queries (10 queries before you register and a further 10 once you enter your email).
This service allows you to view a local business directories traffic, what you can then do is compare it to a different directory which can help you make the decision on whether it is worth paying big money for the particular directory you are looking at.
Some directories may pose a threat. It’s best to insert the name of the local business directory on Google followed by the word “scam”. This will surely notify you if there are any scams that involve this directory. If it is not a scam, you will still run into important information that comes from previous, or current users of the service (positive or negative).
Some advice: if you do run into a directory that has a small amount of traffic and holds a large number of complaints or negative reviews, it’s best you move on, whether they want payment or not.
Activity in your category
If you can see that other businesses in your category are receiving tips, reviews or they are attracting any type of attention. It means that consumers are using this business directory and it may be worth paying the extra money as it will surely bring in some business.
But be aware, if your category is not getting any sort of attention on the local business directory you are reviewing, then steer clear of it, there’s a very small chance that you inserting your listing will make any difference, it’s likely that the consumer uses a different website altogether to find companies in your particular industry.
Some business directories will allow you to make a free listing, but will charge you for any leads that you obtain. If any businesses in your category are not getting any reviews or are receiving any engagement from customers then the leads you obtain may turn out not to be legitimate customers.
The position of your listing
You may pay for a particular local business directory, but does it guarantee your listing to be on the first page? If it does, then by all means take that opportunity with both hands (providing all the above factors are met).
The category page is very similar to results on a search engine. The further down the list you are, the less attention you will attract. So why take a shortcut. Do the research, make the investment and it will surely pay off in the long run.
To conclude, local business directories are very valuable when it comes to broadening your business. Just make sure you do your research to find the best directory that will offer you the best when it comes to your needs.