Directory Maximizer

20 Must-List Business Directories for Every Local Business in the US

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Joe has been running around Manhattan all day between meetings and lunchtime is rolling around. He is just dying for a great burger but doesn’t know the area very well. So he whips out his iPhone and types in ‘burger manhattan’. Thankfully you run a gourmet burger café nearby and your listing on Yelp comes up first in his search results. He clicks the link, notices you have 4.5 out of 5 stars and almost every review mentions how tasty your burgers are. He checks the address, notices you’re just around the corner and his decision is made. You just got a new, lifelong customer.

That is the power of local business directories.

Local Business Directories

What is a local business directory?

Simply put, it is a website which lists local businesses with a customized page for each of them. Here businesses can offer coupons, special deals, display their contact information, URL, owner’s name and even post media like videos and photos. They are a really convenient way to get information about a business since they’re easy to search, always up to date and trustworthy.

Why are they important?

A search engine’s main goal is to provide highly relevant search results to the searcher for a particular string of keywords. For example, if someone searches for a business name like ‘aunt mildred’s cookie factory’, their company website would definitely be one of the results the searcher would like to see.

However, it’s not the only result and the search engines know this.

In recent years Google has increased the rankings of business directory listings for local search terms significantly. In fact, you will notice they often rank right under the company’s official domain. This could be their listing on Google Places, Yelp or SuperPages and is a great way for searchers that aren’t familiar with the business to do a little research.

What are the benefits of being listed?

1. Leads

Directories can be an excellent source of passive referrals and warm leads for your business. Even if your listings only get you one extra customer per day, this can have a dramatic impact on your businesses’ growth. Not only is it more income, but it’s a larger word of mouth presence on the street which can help snowball your growth over the course of a year.

2. Ratings

What makes directories so powerful is that the businesses listed on them are rated by previous customers. People share their honest opinions and experiences about their products or services, just like on Amazon. Every business gets a star rating and/or collection of testimonials which can increase the chances of people buying – if your ratings are good that is. This allows customers to easily rely on the opinions of others instead of going on a gut feeling and hoping for the best. They can make fast, easy decisions and this can be very reassuring.

3. Reputation

Some directories even have a barrier to entry where they will only allow companies that meet certain standards or have specific certifications list with them. This keeps out low value businesses and people will assume you are a solid company if you are accepted. This can be a huge boost for your reputation and goes a long way to build trust upfront.

4. Rankings

Another great reason is that local business directories will increase your rankings for both local as well as ‘national’ searches. Google Places in particular uses them to increase your relevance for specific local keywords. For example, if someone searches for ‘ice cream parlor orange county’, and you happen to have hundreds of directory listings all over the web, chances are you will come up as one of the first results on the searcher’s phone or tablet. This is an ideal way to get more of the local market coming into your store as well as countrywide exposure on regular Google searches with very little effort.

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How to Use Google Places for Your Business

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Local ListingIt is a well-known fact that the vast majority of consumers turn to the internet when looking for local businesses. Google has also told us that ¾ of all online activity is related to local content. This is of vast importance for local businesses which depend on the search engine giant to drive people through their doors, to generate phone calls and to increase the awareness regarding their brands.

Most local businesses spend a good deal of money and time fine-tuning their paid search campaigns and SEO strategies. However, many are not realizing one of the most valuable and cost-free tools Google has, is Google Places. This service was first offered by Google two years ago this fall to replace the Google Local service. The nice thing about Places is the fact that it is totally free and quite easy to set up.

To get started with Google Places you will have to submit your basic info including your business name, website URL, description of your business, category, hours of operation, telephone number, payment options you accept and a photo or video which highlights your business. You are allowed to add up to ten images and five videos. The more info you enter about your business the better your organic rankings will be in Places but avoid keyword stuffing as Google could remove your listing. It’s also important to be specific when adding your business description. Avoid saying things like “we’ve been in business for over two decades” or “we’re the best dog groomer in the city”.

Once you have setLocal Search Optimization up your account and have finished entering your business information, Google will send you a PIN verification number by mail (postcard) SMS or via a phone call, the choice is yours. You will need to log into Places and enter your Pin next to the business listing you created and then you’re done. It will take Google 30 days from the time you enter your PIN to verify your business.

It’s important to know that Google Places only lists seven businesses per search with its red place markers marked A through G. This means that those business similar to yours which have listed themselves on Places before you did get the place markers. Listing your business as soon as possible is the way to go so that you can claim one of the coveted 7 place markers. Another way to get into the top seven is to encourage customer reviews because the more reviews you get, the more likely you’ll land in the top seven.

You can check to see if your business is listed in Places by searching for your phone number in Google maps. If it shows up, then that’s great! There really isn’t any reason not to use Places as it provides a great way for customers to find you which will most likely convert into sales and business prominence.