Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Must For Local Businesses - Online Directories

Local businesses are always looking for ways to be found on the internet. Especially if they are free. Online directories provide that online presence and more. These online directories will show up in search results on the major internet search engines.

Most of the online directories do more than just list businesses. Most offer a menu of services, which most also come with a price tag. Some of the more common offerings are reviews, ads, optimization and upgrades.

The opportunity for individuals to write a review on the listing page is offered for free and can be a great tool for promoting a local business. You ask your customers to write a recommendation for your business on the directory. Sometime during their buying process, provide them with the web address to write a recommendation on the directories. When reviews are placed on a listing page it is free advertising and word of mouth for your business. You must monitor these pages for any review, because not all reviews will be positive. Don’t get upset, this is an opportunity for you to show your great customer service by responding to the negative review.

All the online directories provide the opportunity for you to advertise on their site. You must evaluate each site and determine if it fits your marketing strategy and budget. Many of these online directories are used as search engines and product review searches.

Just like your website, a business listing needs to be optimized. The larger online directories allow you to include all types of business information along with identifying the type of industry. This optimization is used for internet search engines, so use the same philosophy as website optimization.

These sites must make money and the majority of them offer upgrades. All of the upgrades are different and you should make sure you are getting a real benefit before you pay for the upgrade. Free listings work and upgrades are not required.

If you are not utilizing online directories, your business is missing out on a great opportunity to shape and influence your online reputation. Most online directories are free. There are a few out there that charge to place your listing and you should determine whether your company should list with that directory.  Be sure to place a link to your blog, website and any social media sites on the directory page.

Here are a several free online directories I have found to be beneficial:

Merchant Circle
Google Places
Yahoo Local
Insider Pages

Don’t forget any local directories in your area.

Can you add to this list?