Did you know that 97% of users use the internet to discover local businesses?
Or that 7 in 10 shoppers that did a local search visited a store within five miles from their location?
If you’re running a local business, it’s not enough to rely on foot traffic or local advertising anymore.
You need to work on local SEO online if you want to generate sales offline.
Improving your ranking for relevant search engine results allows you to reach local customers that are already looking for your products or services, and drive them into your store.
And if we’re talking about improving your rankings, there’s no better way to do it than through business listings.
Business listings are a powerful way to improve local visibility while also boosting your trust and authority with search engines.
But with so many niche directories out there, you can’t possibly keep your business updated on ALL of them.
So which ones do you choose?
Don't worry - we're here to help you figure that out.
In this post, we’ll take you through:
What is a business directory?
A business directory is a comprehensive online platform where people can find and learn about businesses within a certain industry or niche, as well as their most relevant contact information.
Much like the physical copies of the Yellow Pages, business directories cluster listings by categories or services. For example, Thumbtack allows users to browse by services within the Home, services for Events, and more:
Some services, like Google My Business or Apple Maps, also allow you to show up on relevant map searches, such as “plumber in New Jersey”:
5 must-haves for your company listing
Every business directory is a little bit different in terms of how it works, the algorithm it uses, and the benefits it brings to users. However, if you want to improve your local SEO, there are some boxes that you need to include (and keep updated) on every business listing, regardless of which online business directory you use.
A consistent NAP (business name, address, phone number)
This is what people will use to identify and get in touch with your business, so it’s important that this is updated at all times and consistent across your website, social media platforms, and all of your listings.
Having the incorrect phone number in local business directories could lead to customers not being able to get in touch with you and going to a local competitor instead. Worse, if your address is out of date, you’ll be losing out on foot traffic AND creating a poor customer experience.
Hours of operation
Like your address, your hours of operation need to be up to date on all of your business listings across different online business directories. Websites like Google include opening hours as part of its search algorithm, so if you don’t have your hours listed, you might lose out on opportunities to appear for searches:
On top of your regular business hours, make sure to include special trading hours for public holidays.
A link to your website
Backlinks are a crucial ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm. Adding an inbound link to your website on each local business listing will increase your website’s domain authority, which in turn will help you rank better in local search results.
On top of that, having a link to your website makes it easy for customers to learn more about your business — they can simply click through, rather than needing to type your name into Google search to find it. If you want to get an idea of just how much of your traffic is coming through from your business listings, pop a unique tracking code to the end of your URL.
A company description
This is where you get potential customers interested in your business. Use your company description to talk about your company’s mission, values and ethos, as well as your products and services. Just keep in mind that many directories have limitations on the word count, so you’ll need to keep it short and sharp.
Set your business apart from the others and give potential customers a preview of what to expect with photos and videos of your company. This could be anything from pictures of your staff, snaps of the office, or even your team working on the job.
Choose content that looks professional and that entices people to want to learn more or stop by. If you’re running a restaurant or another service-based business, you could also include a list of your menu so customers have quick access to your services and pricing.
What are the benefits of business directory listings?
Online business directory listings offer a ton of benefits for local operators, from increased exposure to more ready-to-buy customers coming through the door.
If you’re still on the fence, here are 8 benefits that come with putting your name out there on online business listings.
Enhance your online presence
First things first: having your business listed on various directories increases your overall footprint online and boost your local marketing efforts.
Consider this: searches for businesses “near me” or "close by" grew more than 900% in 24 months.
Your customers are using the internet to search for everything — and having greater online visibility will mean that you’ll get discovered by the growing number of people who are searching for your products or services.
Think of business listings like advertisements for your business: the more ads you have, the more people you’ll reach.
Improve your local visibility
Featuring your website online is a great way to boost awareness of your business for customers in the local area.
Online directories are packed with advanced filtering capabilities, which means they’re really REALLY good at connecting searchers with relevant businesses based on what they’re looking for.
Customers can drill down to different industries or services provided, and also sort businesses by hours of operation, reviews and star ratings, distance from their location and more.
Get discovered easily
By having your business listed on local directories, you’ll get in front of customers that are specifically looking for the products and services you’re offering.
You'll unlock a completely new audience that you may not have had access to otherwise, while also increasing awareness amongst customers who may not have come across your company through other forms of research.
Create more brand awareness
Alongside getting discovered and connecting with ready-to-buy customers, the mere act of having your business appear in a directory improves your brand awareness.
Even if a customer doesn’t click on your listing, they’ll still see your brand name, logo, and perhaps even your star rating or reviews.
This makes it far easier to move them further along the customer journey when they DO need your products or services.
Boost your SEO
SEO is fundamental to every business today, whether it’s a bricks-and-mortar store or an eCommerce website.
A whopping 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. And if you want to show up in those search results, you need to make SEO a priority.
Online business listings play a big role in helping to boost your off-page SEO with inbound links and local business citations. All of this means your local business will have a better chance of showing up in SERPs when customers search for relevant keywords (and it could even lower the cost of SEO for your company).
Rank higher on Google
It’s not enough just to show up in search results. You need to be on top if you want to increase your visibility and grow your business using SEO.
Almost all (92%) searchers pick businesses from the first page of local search results — and if you want to be there, you need to show Google’s algorithm that you’re the most relevant, trusted, and authoritative answer to a search query.
When you list your business on trusted online directories such as Google My Business, you build up your domain authority with Google. Done well, this translates to a higher position in search results and more clicks to your website.
What’s more, many of the top listings that show up on Google actually COME from online business directories like Yelp. If you have a website and an online business listing, you’ll improve your chances of showing up in search.
Use word of mouth
One of the great things about most local business directories is that they incorporate views from other customers. And, given that 88% of people trust online reviews just as much as they trust recommendations from people they know, having a glowing customer review can make all the difference when it comes to locking in a sale.
Adding a local business listing to directories allows you to use word-of-mouth to increase brand consideration at the EXACT moment that customers are looking for your products and services.
Done right, it also gives you a competitive edge over other businesses that may have a lower rating or fewer reviews.
B2B networking opportunities
Business directories aren’t just for connecting with customers. They’re also an opportunity to build up your network with other businesses in the local area.
Let’s say an events company has been contracted to cater a party for 100 people in Texas. They’re specifically looking for a Tex-Mex themed menu, so they run a search on Google and Yelp for “tex mex caterers”. If your business shows up, you’ll be on their radar as a potential caterer — and if you do a good job, you could become their trusted caterer of choice.
Top 18 free and paid local business directory sites
With more than 2.8 billion users on the social media platform, Facebook is a great place to promote your business to local customers. Facebook also has an impressive 100/100 domain rating on Ahrefs, which makes having a Facebook Page all the better for your business’ visibility in local search engines. It's also a free business listing site, so it costs absolutely nothing to get your foot in the door.
Google My Business is a free business listing tool provided by Google to help businesses claim their location across all of Google’s platforms. Google My Business is a must if you want to have greater control over how your business shows up to customers in search results pages, or if you want to appear in local searches via Google Maps and Google’s local pack.
Having a LinkedIn company profile is invaluable if you’re running a service-based business and want to increase your visibility with key decision-makers, or if you want to boost your employer brand amongst existing and potential employees. On top of free listings, companies can also use LinkedIn’s robust advertising solution to promote their business online and generate leads with sponsored posts, InMails and more.
4. Yahoo Local
Yahoo Local allows local businesses to display their information in Yahoo search, which is the third-largest of its kind in the United States. To list your business on Yahoo, you’ll have to go through Yext Powerlistings — but it’s well worth it to gain a citation from a site with a 91/100 domain rating.
As one of the most popular local business directory list options in the United States, Yelp helps local companies get discovered by customers in their area. This directory houses listings and reviews for everything from restaurants and boutiques to home services and beauty parlors, which means you’ll be sure to find your target audience on the platform.
As the world’s second-largest search engine, Bing and Bing Maps is used by millions of people — and it powers other platforms like Yahoo Search and Duck Duck Go. Creating a listing with Bing Places for Business increases your local search ranking on the platform, while also giving you greater control over your information online.
MerchantCircle is a directory that connects merchants with other local businesses and customers around them. Since launching, MerchantCircle has amassed more than 2 million merchants on the platform and is used by 100 million consumers every year. Having a MerchantCircle listing is a powerful way to expand your partner network, improve your local exposure, and grow your reputation at the same time.
Local.com houses business information and reviews for more than 16 million business listings across the United States. Putting your business on local.com is a valuable way to improve local citations for your business and get in front of ready-to-shop customers in your zip code.
MapQuest was around before Google Maps was a thing, which should speak volumes to the value of having your business on the platform. Claiming your listing on MapQuest will put your business in front of its 42 million users — plus, its 92/100 domain rating will give a much-needed boost to your SEO efforts.
Insider Pages is a search engine and social platform where real customers share reviews and recommendations on local services and businesses. Insider Pages is particularly well-known for its Insider Pages Doctor Finder and has profiles of more than 900,000 doctors and dentists in the US. If you’re not a doctor or a dentist, don’t worry — users also use Insider Pages to find local professionals, including contractors, vets, pre-schools and more.
FourSquare’s City Guide is a local search and discover directory that contains expert tips from more than 75 million local experts. On top of featuring recommendations for everything from food and coffee to nightlife and shopping, Foursquare also offers access to independent location data using its Pilgrim engine.
TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel recommendation and review site. With millions of hotel, rental, experience, and restaurant listings, TripAdvisor is the best place to promote your business to local and international travelers - particularly if you have thousands of positive reviews!
It may not be as well known as the company’s industry-leading CRM, but HubSpot’s Solutions Directory is a powerful local business marketing tool for marketing and sales service providers. By listing your business on HubSpot’s Solutions Directory, you’ll promote your business to 44,000+ customers in 100+ countries. Best of all, it's a free local business directory - so there's no reason not to put your business on there.
The Better Business Bureau is an ethical marketplace that helps millions find trustworthy and reliable local businesses and charities. On top of boosting your online reputation, getting listed on the BBB Directory is a signal to new customers that your business operates with integrity and excellence.
If you want to get your brand in front of millions using Apple devices to search for local businesses, then you can’t ignore Places on Maps. Claiming your business with a free listing on Apple Maps gives you the ability to manage your listing across Apple’s ecosystem, including Apple Wallet, Safari, Maps, Siri, and Spotlight.
14. Yellow Pages
As the grandfather of all local business directories, the Yellow Pages is still trusted by millions of consumers around the world as a source for local listings. On top of featuring your brand on the Yellow Pages, businesses can also add social media links, special offers, certifications and credentials, and more to their listing.
Angi is a local directory specifically designed for home projects, such as renovations or repairs. With an Angi Pro business listing, you’ll be able to advertise your business and professional services to millions of homeowners looking to hire local contractors, as well as manage leads, send quotes, and promote your business with ads.
Thumbtack is a free tool for people looking to find businesses to help with their personal projects. Businesses on Thumbtack span a variety of categories and services, from home improvement to financial services, legal advice, event planning and more.
Made for small businesses, the Manta directory is home to thousands of small business owners promoting their services across a vast array of industries, including car repairs, heating and A/C, trucking, grocery, real estate and trades. With 20 million customers using Manta every month, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to promote your products and services to locals in your area.
Running a local restaurant or boutique? If so, Nextdoor is a great way to build a presence amongst local consumers online. Businesses use Nextdoor's local business directory to promote their offering to the local community through a Nextdoor Business Page, get the word about with Business Posts, offer Local Deals, and support local causes with Neighborhood Sponsorship.
Grow online and offline with targeted local business listings
These 20 business directories are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to promoting your brand online.
To truly get results from your local SEO strategy, you need to ensure every part of your website is optimized for search.
That means optimizing every piece of content for search. Targeting profitable keywords. Building high-quality backlinks to your site. Making sure your technical elements are bulletproof.
And so on, and so on.
It's a lot of work. But that's where we have your back.
We'll create a tailored SEO game plan designed to take you to the top of search, and send sales soaring.
Ready to get started? Claim your free audit today.