SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
The Yellow Pages of age are a far cry from the online business directories of today. One doesn’t need to fish through a barrage of data trying to find the page they are looking for. Business directories are comprehensive platforms that deliver relevant information to the internet user making the query, and are key for local SEO. They allow the individual to make searches by specific criteria- like the location or service and category. As such, you can connect your business to people who are looking for it- even when they haven’t explicitly searched for your business name. This is also beneficial since it creates more exposure for your enterprise, getting you to persons who are interested in the products or services that you provide, but hadn’t known of your brand.
SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
More and more consumers are making searches online for products and services, and search engines like Google and Bing aim to deliver relevant results- especially with local businesses closer to the user. Having an online presence is no longer a debate if you want your business to grow and thrive. The statistics speak for themselves. 86% of consumers rely on the internet to find a local business, and 72% of consumers say an online search is their first choice to find information on local merchants. According to Hubspot, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. So competitive is it that 61% of marketers list improving SEO and search engine rankings as their top goal. Hence, you want to keep your digital footprint growing, and your SEO efforts can be enhanced by listing on business directories.
How Business Directories Work – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
It’s not just a massive database where listings of businesses are put. They are designed to offer a diverse range of information on every business that is listed, enabling one to make a side-by-side comparison. From focusing on the specific niche of the query made, to using GPS plus social media data to deliver real-time results, and even providing customer reviews, the directories are a critical part of setting up your digital footprint. Their advanced filtering and suggesting capabilities enable you to improve your local visibility, connecting you with your target market.
Google yourself- the business that is. What comes up in the search results? You’ll likely see your business showing up even in directories that you hadn’t submitted a listing on. This is because the different directories pull information from other larger directories, automatically creating listings. In addition, the listing sites don’t operate independently. The high-trafficked platforms like Yelp, Facebook or Google are constantly checking the accuracy of their information against smaller listing sites. Having uniform information across the directories gives more weight to its accuracy, and translates to raking higher on the SERPs (search engine result pages).
You want to maximise your ROI from your local SEO efforts with business directories. A core part of this is the actual content. Search engines like Google have developed guidelines on how data for the business directories will be formatted, and this, coupled with the relevance of the information provided, will determine how successful your efforts will be.
Structuring Your Content On Business Directories – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
Various sets of information will be required when you’re setting up your listing. Let’s break these down and delve into how to post good content on business directories.
• Business name or title
Here, you’ll need to use the real world name of your business. Avoid adding modifiers like keywords or geographical terms to the name. You also need to ensure that the way the name is formatted matches with your website logo, the sign of your business, all through to the print marketing and how your phones are answered. This is because advancements with Google have enabled it to read street-level signage, and variations will be treated as different businesses. In case your business is established in multiple locations, such as with chains and franchises, the status quo remains: do not add the various city names to the business directory. Don’t be “House Cleaners Dublin” in one directory, and “House Cleaners London” in another- unless the legal business name changes with the location. Maintain a consistent “House Cleaners” all through. The exception is when it comes to Facebook, where there can’t be identical names for different listings. For the multi-location businesses, you will be required to add the name of the city or another modifier to the business name. However, this won’t clash with Google and other search engines since the multi-location businesses will be bundled together
For the cases of multi-practitioner businesses, like with dentists, financial planners, lawyers, and real estate or insurance agents, put the name of the practitioner under “business name”. The title or degree certification -like Dr., MD, JD, Esq., and CFA -can also be included. The name of the practice itself doesn’t come in here, unless the said individual is the business’ sole practitioner.
With the co-located businesses, like where a fast-food joint and a restaurant share the same location, they should retain their individual brand identities on the directories, each with their own business name. The same case applied for shops and stores housed in malls. Do not mention the mall name. Just be “KFC” rather than “KFC in Walmart”. There are also cases like hospitals, universities and auto centres where the business has multiple departments. Here you can create unique listings for each of the departments, complete with their categories. While on that, it’s also recommended that each of the departments have their own phone number. Here you can mention the main business in the name. For instance, for a healthcare centre called “GenCare Hospital”, its respective departments can post individual listings like “GenCare Hospital Dental Department”, “GenCare Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit”, “GenCare Hospital Pharmacy”, etc.
• Address – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
Use your real-world address. Note that post office boxes plus the unstaffed virtual offices are not considered to be real-world addresses. In addition, avoid alternations like fabricated suite numbers. Remember that the address must be of a physical location. For the service-area businesses such as electricians and plumbers where the customers are served at their locations, you can input your home address.
• Phone number – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
What number will enable customers to reach you directly? Local area code phone numbers are preferred by the search engines. The phone number use here should be consistent with your website and in all other citations. There will be listings where you can include alternate numbers, from cell-phone to toll-free numbers. In some directories, there will be a field for vanity phone numbers, where the corresponding letters on the alpha-numeric keypad spell a word or name such as of the business, product or service, through which customers will be able to easily remember how to reach you.
• Tagline – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
Does your business have a tagline? Some directories will have a field in which you can include it. These memorable and dramatic phrases sum up the tone of the business. It can be a product philosophy or simply fun word-play. Famous taglines are the likes of “Coke – Open happiness”, “L’oreal – Because I’m worth it” and “IBM – I think, therefore IBM”. In case your business doesn’t have one already, you’re missing out on an opportunity to leave a lasting effect on your customers, even after a short encounter with the recipient.
• Website URL – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
Here the focus is on where the link will direct the visitors to. Did you know that 25-35% more clicks occur on business listings that have a website? For the main one, the listed URL should go to a page that is directly owned by the business, instead of simply being a referral to third parties such as social sites. For those businesses that have branches in different locations, different department or are multi-practitioner, each individual listing should direct the user to the respective landing page on the site. This will maintain the individualized nature of the entities. That way you get to avoid situations where some of the listings of the separate practitioners or departments point to the main homepage, while others redirect to their specific landing pages.
There’s a trade-off to take note of here. It all comes down to ranking and usability. Pointing all of your listings to the homepage of your website gives it higher authority, hence better rank on the SERPs compared to the internal pages. However, how easy will the site be for the user? You don’t want a visitor being confused, or having to navigate through multiple pages on your site to find the specific one they want.
• Categories – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
Selecting the right categories that define your business are key for boosting your ranking on the local search results. Depending on the directory, you can select even up 10 categories. For instance, a legal firm can select “Criminal Justice Attorney,” and “Personal Injury Attorney,” as its categories. Two things are important here. First, refine your category. Let’s say you run a tire shop. Selecting “Transportation Services” as your category is too broad, and your business will have a low ranking. However, selecting “Automotive Repairs and Maintenance” and even “Tire Shop” should the choice be available, makes it a more refined choice, increasing the relevance of the listing. Secondly, avoid repetition. In case you are in a niche that doesn’t have a precise category on the platform, the next step is choosing the closest possible category, then clarifying using other elements of the directories such as the business description.
• Description – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
This one has a major influence on the click-through rates (CTR). Your goal here is to provide a description that will grab the attention of the reader and get them interested in the product and services you’re offering. However, overloading them with information is a turn-off. It’s basically a short pitch to potential customers, and usually the directories allow you to have several hundred characters to sell yourself and your business. The description should have a natural flow to it, like you’re having a conversation with the reader. How long your business has been in operation, how it solves a problem for customers, and what makes you stand out from competitors goes in the description. Aspects like guarantees, famous brands, awards the business has won also come in handy here. There isn’t a general formula to apply, since every business is unique, and the directories are different. In some cases you will have space to include everything including hyperlinks, and in others you will be provided with additional fields for information like amenities and location. For example, if you’re in the food service industry, the description can be something in the lines of:
“Kate’s Delicacies is a Galway-based bakery and cafe. For 25 years, we have been a local favourite for the best pies in town, and our rotating menu that changes with the different days of the week. With fast, quality and family friendly services, you’re bound to leave feeling satisfied and full! Come on in and get your pie-game on.”
One of your key priorities with the description should be to inform. The description should detail what customers should expect from you. This information should then be aligned with your tone and brand. Keep things coherent, and enable your potential customers to get a mental image of your business- not just having a list of details that they need to remember. You can have unique descriptions on different directories, or create one description and publish it across the scope. With niche-specific directories, you’ll want to highlight different aspects of the businesses depending on the persons using the platform. Keeping your audience in mind will enable you to make an appealing description.
• Attributes – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
This field in the directories is purposed to enable you to describe factors or special characteristics about your businesses that are outside the standard categories. These are the likes of in-store experience, wheelchair accessibility, family friendly, private dining, Wi-Fi availability, plus unique product offerings and even the atmosphere of the establishment- whether it’s casual, noisy and the like. The directory may customise the attribute by industry, with some attributes being exclusive to specific niches. For instance, indicating “Drive-up ATM” for banks, and beer and wine offerings for restaurants. The attributes enable the search results to be more customised, and business owners get to highlight aspects that make them stand out further from their competitors.
• Social profiles – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
Just about everyone with a smartphone and internet connectivity is on social media. No doubt that there are plenty of potential customers on the different platforms available, from Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, to Pinterest and Facebook. Enabling them to connect with you on these platforms which they are already used to enhances the user experience and customer support. As such, ensure that you fill out these fields in the business directories, and also invest on your digital footprint within the social sites themselves.
• Images – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
Images also have a huge impact on the CTRs, and you can utilise this venue to impress on more of your potential customers. The image will give the viewer a perception of your business and brand, and visuals are key determinants when selecting between competing products and services. Keep the pictures up to date, since businesses that haven’t updated their photos in years are affected negatively on the search results, and so are those where the images are pixelated or irrelevant to the niche. Note that even if you don’t upload a photo for your listing, that doesn’t mean that the directories won’t have images for it. Take Google for instance. It can use a Google Street View image of the outside of your business, that may end up being unflattering. Google also has registered users who get incentives, through a points-based rewards system, to take pictures of stores, venues and other places. These “local guides” upload the photos and proceed to tag businesses to them. The general public also does this, and it’s usually pictures of things that have pleased them, from fancy clothes or dishes, to that product display at your venue. The contrast can also occur, where they upload images that portray you in a negative light. According to Google’s own statistics, 300 million photos were shared on Google Maps alone in 2017. Take control of your image, to ensure that it is you who decides what represents you out there. There are many listings where users are allowed to upload photos that they may have about your business. As such, it is recommended that you go through your different profiles to ensure that competitors or pranksters haven’t uploaded inappropriate images about your business. Adding an indoor Street View of your business also increases the chances of the user booking a reservation. It shows up in the Google search results, as well as on Google Maps. Take restaurants for instance. The indoor street view will give potential customers a virtual tour of the restaurant, enabling them to visualise themselves in the space and look forward to dining there.
There are different images, from the profile photo, the cover photo and logo, plus extra shots of the interior and exterior of your business premises, the personnel and even some of the customers as they were being served. The search engines determine which photo will be shown first using their set algorithms. They determine how well the photo meets the search query and represents your business. For instance, shots of foods and drinks work well when the query is on restaurants. When you upload photos that portray your business in a positive light, you get to have attractive and compelling images showing up in the search results. In addition, as a bare minimum, ensure that each of the photos that you upload is acceptable as a profile picture. That way, no matter which picture is selected by the search engine, or whenever changes are made to the algorithms controlling the search, the alternative images will work too. You can also mix things up by cropping photos differently, arranging them in different orders, getting more angles of the same shot, tinkering the brightness and contrast of the image- the goal is to put your best foot forward.
The directories come with guidelines on the image size for the display and resolution, and also the types of content that they allow in the images. Be sure to follow these guidelines to avoid situations where the images are taken down due to non-compliance. Since Google also crops and blows up cropped images in order to fit different displays, the quality of the photos should be high enough to prevent them from becoming pixelated when they are manipulated. While on that, ensure that the subject of the image is centred, in anticipation of being framed in thumbnail portraits for the mobile search results, cropped square for the snack pack listings and also formatted for landscape cover photos which are displayed in full map listings.
Picture quality is not just about the search engines. The quality of the image impacts consumer sentiment about your brand, with regards to how they perceive you and trust your business. Remember to be genuine. When consumers suspect that an image is not real, it hurts your reputation and authenticity. That means you shouldn’t be quick to just grab those beautifully shot stock images with their artistic flair which end up being overused by different businesses. A picture that accurately shows your local identity but has a few flaws, is a better representation than an image that has been posted by multiple businesses in the same niche, which the viewers will know isn’t real.
• Additional media – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
This depends on the particular directories where the listings and being made, and the niche that your business is operating in. For instance, in the restaurant categories the directory may have filed for menus to be uploaded. Note that the menu should be up to date and easy to read, especially on mobile devices. Forrester, an American market research company, opines that mobile devices will influence over a whopping $1.4 trillion in locally based sales by 2021. There are also those where you can upload videos. This increase the level of engagement with users. For instance, with Google My Business, the business owners can view videos which are added by customers, and also upload videos about their business for the customers to view. The maximum length for these videos is 30 seconds. The videos appear on Google Maps plus the local search results. Yellow Pages and True Local other directories offer premium paid advertising packages which let you upload videos directly to your company profile. There are free online directories where you can embed your YouTube or Vimeo videos, further boosting your local SEO.
• Fax number – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
Yes, it’s the 21st century and businesses still use fax. For instance, in highly regulated industries, like legal firms, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, plus government bodies, only hard copies of legal documents are accepted. E-signatures may be enough in other areas, but the legality is not universally recognized. As such, documents like contracts, deeds, plus sales and agreements are usually faxed. The presence of a paper trail, with transaction reports and call logs is a welcome benefit for legal discovery. They hold up well when being scrutinised in court. To prove a fax was sent from one business to another, simply get the fax logs from both ends. Moreover, you can subpoena both of their phone companies to get call logs and back it up. Faxing also reduces risks of attracts from hackers, as has been the case with the numerous complaints of emails being compromised. In order for a file that is to be sent by fax to be compromised, the hacker must make the attack at the point of transmission, which means that they need to be aware of the exact time and place from which the file is to be sent. Modern fax technology also adds data encryption protocols and unique security measures that are different from the email platforms. Cloud faxing also brings together digital technology and the classic faxing, allowing digital documents to be edited and genuine signatures included and the file sent to the fax machines.
Is your business in such a situation? Do you have a fax number to receive sensitive documents? Then it’s vital to include the fax number in the field provided for in the business directory. This will enable persons who want to quickly get in touch and send documents over to do so right from the search results. Moreover, since the fax numbers are divided up into the regions they’re from, the query is refined faster and the user gets the relevant results without much hustle.
• Certifications – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
Customers want to know if you’re licenced and certified to offer the products and services that you are marketing to them. It’s crucial to develop trust in your business. It tells them that you take your operations seriously. Vendors, contractors and most importantly the state and local governments, also need to know that your business is legitimate. As such, you should include proof in the business directories that have made this field available. This separates you from persons simply engaging in a hobby, and the rookie firms that take shortcuts and distress consumers.
• Brands carried – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
This is especially beneficial for those in the retail business. When you’re dealing in products from brands that have already amassed a following, from food chains, baby products, and the sporting and fashion industries, all through to electronics, grocery, automobile and construction, you can leverage on their brand recognition to grow your local business. It enables customers who already identify with these brands to trust you faster, which increases your market share in your region.
• Accepted payment forms – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
By offering various payment options, you give your customers more choices and capture every sale that you possibly can. This is vital since the goal of every business is to generate profit. From cash, cheques, credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover), mobile solutions to processing the credit card transactions such as Square and PayPal, online payments like Venmo and Square Cash, to those based on the recent blockchain technology such as Bitcoin, indicating the different options that you have available for your customers will enable them to choose and plan accordingly. This ranges from those who want to make transactions through systems that they are already comfortable with, those that are looking for convenient and easy ways to make purchases, to those like crypto-enthusiasts who are proponents of the new technologies, and actively seek out products and services from businesses that accept cryptocurrencies as payment options.
Value Of Listing On Business Directories For Local SEO – SEO – How To Post Good Content On Business Directories
With SEO, they key is implementing strategies that appeal to both the users and the search engines. The goal is to increase both the quantity and quality of the internet traffic that is being directed through to your website from the search engine results. Local SEO ups the mantle since it directly impacts in-store traffic. Going by findings in Googles’ research, 50% of consumers that conducted a local search on their smartphone ended up visited the store within a day, and so did 34% who searched using a computer/tablet. These customers are also more likely to make the purchase as well. You want maximum exposure, even in those small towns where everyone knows everyone else. There will be new people settling in or simply passing by, and they will go online when searching for a particular product or service. With the business listings, you get to rank higher on the search results, and the increased visibility has a positive impact on your revenue streams. You are also more accessible, with the amount of contact information that you have provided on the directories.
Increased brand awareness and familiarity about your business warms up potential customers, vendors and other interested parties for further engagement with you. When the user performs a search and receives a list of results, each comes with a brief snapshot, so more people will know about what you have to offer. What’s more, the customer review component on most online business directories has evolved into a trusted source of information for consumers, which is key in boosting your brand’s reputation. Customers sharing their positive experiences regarding your business with online communities on the local business listings gives potential customers an idea of the level of quality that you provide. Target marketing also comes into the picture. Internet users making search queries on directories are already interested in the products or services they are looking for. They are at the final stages of the purchase cycle, wallets out, ready to buy. Once they find a suitable company, they will be ready to do business. Attracting such customers is vital for your profit margins