Setting up a business is complicated enough, but getting it noticed online can feel like a constant battle. It’s not just because of your competition. It’s also because there’s just too much noise on the internet. There are so many voices trying to be heard all at once.
That’s why a lot of businesses are turning toward directory listings as a best practice. Directory sites aggregate business information to make it easy for people to find local businesses. In some senses, they recreate the usefulness of an old telephone directory while adding additional features. Unlike that old book, there are many places you can get yourself listed, each with its pros and cons. Here are some examples.
Google My Business and other Search Engines
We may as well start with the portal with the biggest visibility. If you’ve ever noticed those sidebar blocks that detail information about a local business and wondered how you could get in on that, that’s Google My Business at work. It’s the replacement for Google Places and Google+ Pages. Simply go to https://www.google.com/business/ to learn how you can upload your business information. It’s free too, so consider this an essential.
“While you’re targeting search engines, getting listed on Bing Places or Yahoo! Listings wouldn’t be a bad idea either,” says Susan Miller, a California-based business owner and guest speaker. “Sure, their market share is much smaller but it doesn’t hurt at all to add it.”
LinkedIn and other Professional Directories
Search engines may take care of basic visibility, but if you are wanting to recruit employees or get known in the B2B community, then LinkedIn is your next stop. The site is synonymous with business networking and its profiles practically replaced the basic resume for many recruiters. A fleshed-out profile here will instantly raise your company’s credibility.
There are also other sites that provide a LinkedIn-like environment for smaller subsets of professional. Crunchbase is one of these. “They focus primarily on startups,” says entrepreneur Alex Perdikis,” But you don’t have to be one to get the benefit.” For example, if you look at this example profile, you can see the types of information you can include, such as bio, timeline, news, videos and more. Also, if your industry has a similar specialized directory, you should join that as well.
Yelp and other Review Sites
People love to trust third-party information about someone else, and thus Yelp and other review-based sites were born. Yelp allows people to rate businesses and share their experiences so others can decide whether or not to use that business. It’s an excellent place for B2C companies, but it also has unique perils. Opening your company up for public review can start a spiral of negative press if enough people complain.
There are other review sites that add additional features. Angie’s List is well-regarded and requires people to pay a fee before they can leave reviews. They also can let customers contact your business through the site to make appointments. If you’re a retailer, MerchantCircle is aimed toward that sector by letting you add price quotes and special deals for MerchantCircle members. While Yelp does have the greatest visibility, having listings on these and other review sites can provide a buffer in case Yelpers decide they want to give your business a bad day.
If you’ve decided to swear off Yelp entirely already, but wish you could leverage its features, you may want to look at Expressit. Expressit positions itself as an anti-Yelp. High-ranking good reviews are publicly posted, but negative ones are delivered privately to your profile so you can address them without it blowing up into something public. Expresit may be an app, but considering how many people are using mobile apps over the web on smart devices, it’s worth considering.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for online directories. For an even bigger listing, check out this Hubspot article.