You know that if you want to be found by potential customers, your business needs to show up in the top results of relevant online searches. The way search engines like Google determine your ranking is based off a complex and ever-changing algorithm. It decides not only how relevant your website is to a specific search term, but also how credible your website is in general. One way that Google’s algorithm measures your website’s credibility is by the amount of “backlinks”, or other websites that contain a link to your website.
Many businesses attempt to boost their search rankings by submitting to online directories and databases which link back to their websites. At one time, listing on every possible directory and getting tons of meaningless backlinks was an effective strategy for improving a company’s search ranking. However, updates to the Google algorithm in recent years now account for the quality and credibility of the sites that link back to yours. So, that means listing your business on dozens of low-quality, spammy directories is a waste of time and could actually hurt your Google ranking.
Here are some tips for listing your business in online directories in a way that tells search engines that you’re credible and worth showing to potential customers:
- List on well-known websites that you know people actually use to find businesses (we’ll suggest some at the end of the article).
- List in directories that have a moderation process. If the directory you are listing on doesn’t have an authentication process to make sure that you’re legitimate before your listing goes live, it’s not credible enough to improve your search ranking.
- Look for industry-specific directories that appear to get real traffic. Niche directories that are highly relevant to your business can be very beneficial to list in.
- Other than the well-known names, avoid listing in too many free directories. Most of the niche directories that are truly valuable to your business and to your search ranking will require a paid membership to list.
- Remember that the primary reason for listing in directories is to be found by customers. SEO is a great bonus, but if you’re hounding for backlinks wherever you can get them, you’re not sending the right signal to Google in the long run.
Before you start looking into industry or location-specific directories, it’s most important to get your business listed on the big ones that everyone knows. Here are 10 that we recommend you start off with:
- Google My Business
- Better Business Bureau
- Apple Maps
- LinkedIn Company Directory
- Yellow Pages
- Yahoo! Local
Another key point to remember is that your listings will often be seen alongside competitors’. For that reason it’s important to make sure that every listing you post is complete, accurate, and compelling. Use high-quality photos and take advantage of the written description by telling potential customers what’s unique about your company.
To sum up the article, listing your business in online directories certainly can improve your search ranking, but not if Google can tell you’re only doing it for backlinking’s sake. List your business in places where you think your potential customers may be looking for you and you’ll not only see your search ranking improve, but also your customer base.
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