One of the simplest things you can do to put your locally-based business website to work for you is to add or update your information in the many free business directory sites on the web.
Taking advantage of free business listing sites offers a few benefits, namely:
- You get to make sure all the sites have your correct address, phone number, and web site. This is especially important if your key information has changed recently (obviously).
- While a lot of the local directories will already have your basic “phone book” info, they are less likely to automatically have your web address or contact email address. Since most businesses won’t bother adding theirs, if you add yours you will have an automatic leg up on the competition.
- While the value of links from these sites will vary, a lot of the business directory sites tend to be top results for Google “yellow pages”-style searches (like “hair salon”, “real estate agent”, “car repair”, etc.). If you get most or all of these mega-sites to link to your site, Google should take your site a little more seriously as a result.
- Not to mention, it means that when people land on these directory sites, they will be able to click and get to your site, rather than just seeing the dry “Name / address / phone number” listing.
- Also, some of these sites offer opportunities to rank or comment on a given business. (Some, like Yelp, are primarily focused on just that.) If you seek them out, you get a chance to respond to good or bad reviews. And if you keep track of them, or have a blog, you can send your customers there to help you get good ratings and reviews on those sites.
Now on with the sites!
NOTE: I’m only focusing on sites that list businesses for free, and I would recommend thinking twice before paying for any online business listing, unless you’ve heard from a solid referral that it pays off for them. Some of those directories won’t last or succeed, so paying money to them can be a gamble. But there are plenty of ways to get free listings and links.
- Yahoo Local
- Google Local
- Bing Local
- Craigslist (doesn’t have a business directory, but allows free ads)
- Froogle Local (you can list retail products that you have for sale)
- Best of the Web Local
- Angie’s List
There’s an even longer list here; I wanted to check those sites out myself before I added them all here.)
Lastly, just search for your own type of business and town in Google or elsewhere, and you will probably find some directories I haven’t mentioned here, including some that are specific to your industry. (So one of my clients would search for “hair salon grass valley”, and look for all the local-business and salon-industry directory sites in the first couple pages of results. Or search for your business name and town, and see the places where you are already listed.)
I will dig into some of these more in the future; a few, like Yelp and Foursquare, deserve detailed discussion in their own right. But for now, making sure your business has a spot on those sites, and has all the info you’re allowed to list for free, is a pretty good start.
This list is by no means comprehensive; I’ll be adding to and updating it over time.
Do you have some free local business listing sites I should add? Have you had good or bad experiences with any of the ones I have listed?