You’ve heard it before – listing your small business or professional profile in online business directories is great for SEO. And, it’s true. It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur like Alex Perdikis or a small-business owner looking for investors or building a web presence, online directories offer some the best SEO bang for the buck.
The kicker is that botching the job can do more harm than good. Here are the Dos and Don’ts of business directories and how you can effectively use them to boost your SEO.
Do: Make Sure It’s Right
Business directories are different – some provide ready-made listings and others count on submissions. Whatever the case, if the information in the listing is wrong, it’s bad! Here’s what you need to do:
- Claim your business: If your business is already listed in the directory, such as Google My Business, claim and verify it.
- Fix inaccuracies: Whether it’s a listing that you submitted yourself or an already created listing, make sure the contact information is correct. If it’s not, fix it. Check and double-check your business name, address, phone numbers, website address, email addresses, hours of operation, if applicable, and other contact information.
- Add website and blog urls: If your website and blog urls are not listed, add them. Effective SEO relies on connections. The more connected “dots” you add, the better.
- Consistency wins: Use the same contact information on your website, blog and every single business directory listing you use. Little things count. For example, don’t say your address is “123 Street” on your website and “123 St.” in your directory listings. Google in particular is sensitive to what you might consider an insignificant difference. For Google, it raises a red-flag.
Don’t: Exaggerate or Fluff
Your business listing is not the place to tell the world how great you are. Business directories deal with facts – who you are, what you do and contact details. Some business directories allow space for awards or other acknowledgements – by all means use the space for legitimate purposes. But don’t go overboard patting yourself on the back.
Do: Categorize Your Business, But Do It Right
Properly categorizing your business is essential for effective SEO. Most business directories give you category options. Choose categories that fit precisely. Don’t forget sidelines or secondary products or services, but be careful. This is not the place to embellish.
Don’t: Automatic Submission Services are Not Your Friend
It’s oh-so tempting to let someone else do all the work. Automatic submission services have been around for a long time and to tell you the truth, they still stink. Why? Because automatic submission services can’t, and don’t, distinguish between real business directories, such as Crunchbase and Google My Business, and fly-by-night directories built only to advertise.
Automated services cannot properly categorize your listing. They can’t choose the proper niche directories for your business. They’re a one-size-fits-all solution that works against you. If your profile or business begins showing up in the wrong places, it doesn’t matter how strong your SEO efforts are, you lose.
Do: Upload a Photo
Not all business directories have the option, but if it’s allowed, add a photo or two. Make the photo relevant – if you’re an entrepreneur or small-business owner, upload a professional-looking headshot of yourself. Make sure you look approachable and friendly. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, add a photo. The online challenge has always been proving there are real people behind online persona. Photos let people see who’s back there.
Business directory listings can have a huge impact on SEO. Every small-business owner, professional and entrepreneur should give smart online business directory strategies an important place in the SEO toolbox.