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On-Line Business Directories
Making Sure Your Business Is Highly-Visible in On-Line Business Directories Has Become a Critical Foundation to Grow Any Business
Over the last 10 years, smart phones have revolutionized how consumers find products and services.
The legacy of the yellow pages now lives on in the form of several on-line business directories that now fill that role. When properly organized and optimized, we commonly see our clients show up in between 300% and 1,100% more local search results.
The four most critical on-line business directories include:
Depending on your industry, other directories may take on equal importance to these. Common examples would be restaurants, medical professionals, and real estate professionals.
If you’d like to discuss how on-line business directories can help grow your business, we offer a free marketing consultation. It gives you an opportunity to ask questions, and it gives us a chance to get to know you, your business, and your growth goals.
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How To Optimize These On-Line Business Directories for Best Results
It’s important to understand that every directory (or on-line platform, for that matter) is keeping its own version of a credit score on your business. Some refer to it as a relevancy score, you may also have heard of it referred to as rank. Whatever they call it, it’s a score they use to decide how much they know about you, and how confident they are in the information they’ve got. When you have a high score, you get shown more. When you have a low score, you get shown a lot less. So it’s important to do what you can to raise your score; just like a credit score.
If you’re trying to DIY your directory management, here is a checklist of the most important things to consider:
Your business name should appear exactly the same in every directory, and match the title of your website. Whenever possible, try to include the name of your industry, product, or service. For example, if you’re an insurance agent, rather than list your business name as “Janet Smith,” list it as specifically as possible — such as “Janet Smith State Farm Insurance.” Since people will be searching for what you do much more often than just your business name, including descriptors people are likely to use in their searches helps get you included in more search results. In our insurance example, people are far more likely to search the generic term “insurance” and the brand “State Farm” much more often than any individual agent’s name.
Your phone number should appear exactly the same in every directory. Someone may try to talk you into the idea of using tracking numbers; this causes more harm than good. Since directories all compare the information they’ve got, when they see different phone numbers, confidence goes way down. That lowers your score, and you don’t want that. The phone number should match the phone number displayed in the header and/or footer of your website. We recommend having it in both the header and the footer.
Same with address. We recommend using the postal standardized address. Here’s how you find that; just go to the United States Postal Service website and look up the Zip+4 version of your address. What you get back when you enter your address and get the Zip+4 result is your postal standardized address. Why is this important? Because this is the address almost all mapping software uses to precisely keep track of your address. By using this everywhere an on-line business directory or social media platform asks for your address and having this address appear exactly the same in the footer of your website, you will establish high confidence about your location. This is important even if customers don’t come to you. On-line business directories have a check box that lets you tell them that customers don’t come to you; you come to them.
The same ideas apply to additional contact information like website address, social media handles, fax number, and anything else you provide. Keep it exactly the same in every directory, and on every platform. And make sure it matches exactly in your website, appearing in the header, footer, or both.
Business hours is one the most common areas where businesses earn a lower score without realizing it. When you consider that on-line business directories want to help consumers get to what they’re looking for the fastest, it’s easy to understand why they place such a high priority on being correct about business hours. They don’t want to send you customers with an expectation that you’re open, only to find out your closed.
So on-line business directories (and Facebook) take business hours very seriously. Again, your business hours need to appear exactly the same in every directory, and should also appear in the footer of your website — all matching.
It’s also important to log in to each directory periodically and update holiday hours. This is another area where you can really improve your score over your competitors. Helping on-line business directories (and Facebook) feel confident they know your correct business hours can really pay off. For example, if Google My Business feels highly-confident about it’s understanding of your business hours, but doesn’t feel as strongly about your main competitor’s business hours — it will consistently show you more frequently, rather than risk sending someone to your main competitor when they’re closed.
Every business should be able to describe itself — who it is, what it does, where it does it, and the motivating value proposition it delivers — in 255 characters or less. This description should appear in the footer of your website, and in the short description on your Facebook profile, as well as anywhere else you’re asked for a description of your business, as happens in most on-line business directories.
Different on-line business directories ask for different information. For example, Apple Maps Connect is the most streamlined of all on-line business directories. Google My Business is definitely on the other end of that spectrum.
Whether the directory asks a few questions or a ton of questions, answer them all to the best of your ability. And periodically go back and update your answers. The more you fill out, the more your score goes up. And the more you appear to be keeping your information updated, the more your score goes up.
This is particularly helpful in areas like trading area, brands you carry, and products/services you provide. Remember that people tend to search around generic terms and brand names, so connecting the dots for directories really pays off in those types of searches.
Activate Every Feature You Can Execute Well
Platforms like Google My Business and Yelp! have added features like chat, SMS (texting), and email — allowing customers a lot of different options to communicate with you. Many of these function via the apps each platform has developed to manage your listing, and it often means someone / several people at your business has to be willing to have the app (and proper notifications) set up on their phone(s).
Only activate features you are willing to execute well; keeping in mind that some of these inquiries will come at off hours, etc. You will be rated by the speed with which you respond. This is a great opportunity to increase your relevancy score, but it’s also an opportunity to get dinged if you don’t execute well.
Regularly Add Photos & Videos
Every platform, except Apple Maps Connect, wants you to provide as many photos and videos as you can, We’ve found that original photos that only appear on that platform get more credit-building points than re-using images or videos you’ve used elsewhere.
These can be easily be taken with your phone. They don’t have to be professionally-done.
We get asked if services that offer to come in and make 360-degree videos of your office or showroom is a service worth buying. Depending on the competitiveness of your industry, these can be a differentiator. But if you are doing a good job of adding photos and videos on your own, it’s not a necessity; especially if customers don’t come to you.
What if you don’t have a storefront or showroom? It’s important to add photos and videos of work you’ve done for customers. Again, since most people are seeing these on their phones, the production values don’t need to be professional-quality. In fact, we’ve seen a trend toward consumers preferring less produced content; meaning don’t add a lot of graphic overlays, professional voice-overs, or music. Authenticity and transparency is more and more important to consumers.
Install Management Apps & Log In At Least Every 30 Days
Not all, but most on-line business directories now offer an app you can install on your phone to manage your listings. Wherever possible, do this.
Regardless, make sure you are logging in to each major listing at least once a month. When you log in, add at least one new photo or video, and update something else in your listing, such as adding a brand, product, or service. This shows the directory you’re serious about keeping the information updated, and tends to raise confidence that the information is correct.
Regular care and feeding of your listings will make sure your relevancy score stays high.
If all this seems a bit daunting, we can help. We offer a free marketing consultation to help us get to know you, your business, and your goals. We look forward to meeting you. Schedule your free consultation via this link below.
What To Do If You’ve Lost Control Of Your Directories
One of the most common challenges we face when onboarding new clients is regaining control of directory listings or social media pages that were set up by a former employee who is no longer with the organization, and not necessarily cooperative.
Your listings in on-line business directories are important assets of your business, just like your name, phone number, domain name, etc. It’s important that you alone have ownership of these listings, even if you grant others permission to help you manage them.
If you’ve lost control of one or more directories and you need help reclaiming them, we can be part of that solution. Just schedule a free marketing consultation.
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