Gone are the days when a business laid down an annual sum to have its information listed in the Yellow Pages. These days it’s crucial for small businesses to instead prominently list themselves in multiple online directories.
Consider that four out of five consumers in the U.S. now use search engines to find local businesses. Perhaps more importantly, 50 percent of those conducting local searches by smartphone visit the business in question within the same day, and 18 percent move forward with a purchase that day. To make sure your business is found, we’ve outlined the top 20 places your business needs to be listed. And we’ve even added a few lesser-known directories as a bonus.
What to include in your online business listing
Google research shows customers most frequently seek company hours, product information, business location and directions. Many also put great stock in online reviews by other customers, with 88 percent trusting these reviews as much as personal recommendations. Other studies point to searcher demand for coupons and special offers. So how do you decide which search engine — or engines — to list in?
Google My Business
The Goliath of search engines, of course, is Google. So it’s no surprise when prioritizing which online listings to pursue, experts often recommend starting with the free-of-charge Google My Business (GMB). After all, Google far outperforms every other search engine, logging an average 7.8 billion searches per day last year.
One of the greatest benefits of GMB is its listing of your business’s exact location on a mobile-friendly map — a huge boon to the 1.3 billion smartphone users expected to populate the U.S. by 2020. “You will be far more visible to the vast majority of users of both Android and iPhones searching for businesses within a 5-kilometer radius,” Google advises, pointing to the SEO edge the tool provides in promoting small, local businesses over more generic corporations. “Local searchers do not want to be constantly bombarded with the same old big names that may or may not truly offer the service or product they are seeking.” GMB consistently shows up high in online searches, boosts your website’s SEO rankings to optimize traffic, posts reviews from your customers, and allows you to include in your profile printable coupons, special offers, videos, images, opening hours, preferred payment methods and other meaningful information. Its Analytics function also allows you to track who’s searching for you and what other sites they’ve visited. The free and easy registration process for GMB is available here.
Top 20 places
Twenty other relevant directories that could increase exposure for your business include:
- Bing Places for Business: Only Google outpaces this free Microsoft product in visits, and you can add multiple business locations, photos, videos and more during your fast, free and easy registration. Because Bing is the default search engine for desktop and tablet versions of Windows 8, some tablet, desktop and laptop owners opt for Bing over Google. Enroll here.
- Yahoo Local Listing: Ranking third next to Google and Bing, Yahoo’s service draws millions of searches daily. A basic listing is free, but $9.95/month allows you to add photos and a company description, and $29.99/month buys you listings in more than 40 other online directories. “Although Yahoo is no longer the search engine giant it once was, Yahoo Local is a great supplement to your online local strategy,” advises Amanda DiSilvestro on SearchEngineWatch.com. Create your listing here.
- Yelp is one of the best online sources for candid consumer reviews. Bonus: It allows you to send public or private messages (including deals) to customers and review business trends using the Yelp reporting tool. In terms of demographics, 42 percent of Yelp users are 18 to 34, 61 percent are college grads and 46 percent earn $100,000 or more annually. The most reviewed categories on Yelp include shopping, restaurants and home services respectively. Enroll here.
- MerchantCircle is a free network targeted toward small businesses seeking to connect with local customers and other small businesses in their areas. Users can advertise to boost their listings, post business blogs and take advantage of free marketing tools aimed at building their business. The more active they are online, the more local exposure they gain. Create a listing here.
- Yellow Pages: This well-organized online version of the antiquated classic generates millions of daily searches. It offers advertising, lead generation and detailed ad performance data. Company research from last year points to 70 million visitors across the YP app and YP.com combined, with digital revenues exceeding $1 billion in 2014. The company considers itself “the No. 2 local search destination in the U.S.” Enroll through this link.
- White Pages: This lists some 30 million companies, offering sponsored ad opportunities and a premium text message service for clients. Sign up here.
- Superpages.com: This free, easy-to-navigate service includes helpful options, including weather and lottery listings, as well as fast access to popular categories, search tips, and a Facebook sign-in option. Start listing here.
- Yellowbook allows for easily searchable business listings that include your business information, a link to your website, product descriptions, a map feature and options for display and video ads. Your info is distributed across the Yellowbook.com network and its partner sites. Enroll here.
- YellowBot provides basic contact and location info about your business similar to the Yellow Pages, with customer reviews and options that include premium listings, searchable tags, and fast sign-in via Windows Live, Google, Facebook, Yahoo or Twitter. Sign up here.
- Manta calls itself one of the largest online resources dedicated to small business. “The Manta directory boasts millions of unique visitors every month who search our comprehensive database for individual businesses, industry segments, and geographic-specific listings,” it reports. “[We] deliver helpful news and advice, promotion opportunities and tools for small businesses.” Registration is lightning-fast and allows for the highlighting of your products along with optimization package options. Enroll through this link.
- Citysearch: This free site specializes in listings for restaurants, bars, spas, hotels, restaurants and other businesses across the U.S., optimizing them via a partner network that includes Expedia, Urbanspoon and MerchantCircle. Listings are accessed through the popular Citysearch mobile app, and businesses preferred by users are regularly named in local “best of” lists that cover 20 categories. List your business here.
- MapQuest: This blast-from-the-past web-mapping service owned by Verizon gets searchers to your physical location quickly and easily via detailed maps. The Washington Post recently ran a story noting that one MapQuest mobile app still appears for every 20 smartphone users who have Google Maps. Include your business here.
- Local.com: This free directory gives searchers detailed info about events, deals, and info relevant to a given city. Its database includes more than 16 million business listings covering every zip code in the U.S., it reports. Paid ad options allow for coupons and other features. Enroll here.
- Foursquare: This combination business directory and social networking site allows users to check in via map and comment about your business, with or without the Foursquare mobile app. As of last year, it boasted more than 60 million registered users and 50 million monthly active users. Sign up for Foursquare here.
- DexKnows: This business listing site monitors your reviews and ratings and provides data into how customers engage with your profile, giving insights to online and offline advertising opportunities. The DexKnows mobile app is available for Android and Apple and allows users to make single-tap searches, write reviews, mark favorites and find fuel stations based on GPS locations. Create a business listing here.
- The Business Journals: This local option, available in most major U.S. cities, generates 8 million monthly searchers and offers four levels of listings. Its searchers rack up an average income of more than $97,000, and 84 percent shop online. Get your listing here.
- Angie’s List: This respected site is known for its objective consumer reviews in more than 720 categories. More than 3 million members turn to Angie’s List to research, hire, rate and review local service providers. This year the company was named to Deloitte’s Technology’s Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America. Create an Angie’s List file on your company here.
- Hotfrog: This free, detailed online directory can help get your website listed in Google search results. Options include coupons for your customers. The site attracts 1.6 million active users monthly across 38 different countries. Sign up here.
- Kudzu: This free database reports that it helps some 20 million homeowners a year make decisions regarding their renovations. Options include a dedicated account manager who can work to boost your website in search results. Profiles can include marketing descriptions, photographs of work performed, videos, coupons, professional affiliations, credentials and user-generated reviews and ratings. Enroll here.
- TripAdvisor offers a flat subscription rate for any business related to the hospitality or entertainment industries in 48 markets worldwide. Calling itself the world’s largest travel site, it reaches 390 million average monthly unique visitors and so far has logged some 435 million reviews and opinions covering 6.8 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. Sign up here.
Bonus: Two lesser-known directories
Best of the Web: This site offers a series of web directories with millions of websites listed. Their team of editors aim to make listings relevant and unique. Twenty-five million people search BOTW local every year. Multiple pricing options are available. Sign up here.
Directory Critic is a link-building resource that provides SEO-friendly web and article directories. Categories include general, niche and article directories. All the lists are made available at no cost. Submit your listing here.
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Establish a stronger online presence with a strategy that increases your organic search rankings.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in April 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.