How to Get the Most Out of Online Small Business Directories

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Small businesses compete with large corporations online every day. Websites and social media marketing have made it possible for small businesses to increase their exposure and level the playing field. Large corporations still have the edge in one area, however, and that's online visibility. Big business has the advantage with online recognition because they have well-known names and the resources to stay in the public eye. How can small businesses compete? One way to increase your online visibility is to list your business in multiple online directories. Online business directories offer a platform to showcase what your business does and increase your exposure. In addition to improving your visibility, directory listings show up in search results, increasing coverage even more. There are some pitfalls to watch out for, though. Follow these tips and tricks to get the most visibility for your small business with online directories and avoid the mistakes.

A Little Research First, Please

Just a short time ago, services that automatically submitted your business information to thousands of online directories were all the rage. What could be better than your business details listed over and over again in as many directories as possible? It didn't take long for the bad to outweigh the good when it came to tactics like these. Many of those so-called directories were spambots. Business websites were penalized when they used automated submissions, often because the content of each listing was exactly the same and because the info appeared on questionable sites. In order to be effective and avoid being penalized, list your business only in reputable directories and submit your details manually, one site at a time.

How do you know which directories to choose? Watch out for these bad signs:

  • If the directory website looks outdated, move on.

  • If the directory is a list of links and nothing else, move on.

  • If a directory requires a back link, a link to the directory on your website, move on.

  • If there are more ads than information, move on.

Clearly, there are names you can trust: Google+, Yelp, CrunchBase and Bing Places. There are also industry specific directories that create more visibility. Try searching your specific field in a search engine and add the word "directory." Choose to submit only in the most reputable.

What to Say?

Part of the problem with the old "automatically list your business" in thousands of directories routine was that each directory had exactly the same information, word-for-word. The same content on website after website hurts your search engine standings now. Yes, it means that you have to spend time writing a different summary for every directory. However, to be most effective, you have to gear your content to fit the purpose of the directory anyway. Industry directories focus on field-related aspects. Google is geared toward your customers. Crunchbase is ideal for the business professional. David DelCollo's CrunchBase profile is a great example of what a professional profile should look like.

Finally, one last tip - make sure your name, business name, location and contact information are all accurate. The finest content in the best online directory will take you nowhere if people don't know how to find you. Sometimes it's the obvious that's not only most important, but the easiest to forget.

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