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Contact South West Web Marketing A Quick Guide To Business Directories

Business directories are a simple and cost-effective way to promote your business. In this guide, South West Web Marketing takes a look at some of the reasons why you should be listing your company, some tips and tricks for choosing the directories that are right for you and how to judge their effectiveness.

Why use a directory?

Any business needs customers to succeed, and a directory helps you get them. Listings are quick and easy to create compared to most forms of advertising, and when placed in a reputable directory give you:

Exposure - As a small business, you want as many customers as possible to use your services. Getting the company listed in a business directory helps put your brand in front of more people, and the more people that are aware of your business, the more potential customers you have.

Legitimacy - Many people expect to see companies listed in directories. Appearing in a nationally recognised directory service, such as the Yellow Pages (Yell.com) or Thomson Local (thomsonlocal.com), helps convince customers that you have a reputable business.

Visibility - Business directories tell customers how to get in touch with you. It’s an obvious point, but an important one because getting customers to find your business or even your website is one of the most common business challenges out there.

A targeted audience - You can use different types of directories to promote your business to different audiences. An industry-specific directory, for example, is unlikely to be used by many people that aren’t potential customers, and local business directories will help you attract customers based in your area.

How to choose a directory

There are hundreds of different online directories, all offering a very similar service, so how do you pick the ones in which to list your business?

Don’t dismiss paid listings - With so many free directories available, it’s easy to assume you don’t need to pay to get yourself out there. But paid directories are often of much higher quality than their free competitors. That, usually reasonable, charge works to filter out a lot of companies, making your business more likely to stand out.

Choose a directory that offers additional services - Many directories will provide extra services that help your business get noticed. For example, some will offer guides, advice, news, or tips to make your listing more likely to catch a customer’s eye.

Check a directory’s reputation - Some online directories don’t bother to filter their listings very well. As a result, you might find your business listed alongside some less savoury outfits. For example, it doesn’t reflect well on your business if its name comes up alongside escort agencies and ambulance chasers.

It’s also worth remembering that if you’ve heard of a directory, others will have too. You should strongly consider using these services.

Make sure it’s edited by a real person - Quality is important when it comes to listings, and that’s why it’s important to choose a directory service where the listings are edited by humans. While it won’t guarantee all text will be concise and typo-free (none of us are perfect), the overall quality will still be significantly higher than those services that just run listings through a spellchecker.

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How to track results

Stat tracking

If your listing directs people to your website, you can use an analytics tool like Google Analytics or Webtrends to see how effective it is.

These tools let you see how many visitors your site has received from different sources. If you’re listed in multiple directories, you can see which is generating the most hits, and if any directories are failing to bring in the customers. You can then rework the listing or, if necessary, start looking for an alternate directory.

There’s a learning curve to understanding how to interpret the results, but both services have detailed guides to help you collect and understand the data.

Feedback

Many directories let users leave ratings and comments for listed companies. This is great for consumers, who get practical feedback from peers about a business. It’s also good for you, as it helps you see how your company is being received, and that people are finding you through the directory.

Of course, there’s always a chance you’ll get a bad review, but if you’re careful and treat your customers with appropriate respect, the feedback should remain positive.

It’s also a good idea to regularly speak to customers to understand how they found your business. For example, some companies conduct regular feedback surveys to see how well they’re meeting customer expectations, and how customers heard of their business.

If your based in Devon - why not advertise on www.barnstapletowncentre.co.uk

Examples of directories

There are hundreds of online directories, from global services, to small locally run offerings. The best thing is to do some research of the options available in your area. Just remember: before signing up with any business directory, read the small print, and make sure it’s a reputable business. Business directory scams are not uncommon, so if you’re not sure about a company, don’t risk it.

Some of the highest profile listing organisations around are.

Thomson Local - Thomson Local is one on the top local search directories in the UK. Certainly, it’s one of the longest established, having been around in one form or another for more than 20 years.

In addition to the website, the print version of Thomson Local is delivered to thousands of people every year. Even in this super-connected 21st century world, some people turn to the big blue book, so it might be worthwhile getting yourself listed inside too.

Yellow Pages/Yell.com - Yell Group is one of the largest directories company in the world. Yell.com, its directories site, covers the whole of the UK and lets users search for businesses in their area. There are multiple types of listing available, including free and paid, so there’s really no reason not to use it.

Yell still produces the iconic Yellow Pages - almost certainly the most famous print directory in the UK. While circulation has dropped since the rise of the internet, it’s still used by thousands of people.

Qype - Qype is different to other directory sites. It’s very much based around social networking and reviews. Rather than just finding your business listing, users will submit and share reviews of your company. It’s a lively and popular destination for consumers, but bear in mind that it’s not a perfect system - while Qype does exercise some editorial control, the user-generated nature of the concept means it’s hard to predict what people will write about your business.

The site now covers most European cities, although some are better supported than others. While it’s not a directory in the traditional sense, it is hugely popular with users. For more information on social networking, read the Businesschoices.co.uk guide to getting the most from social media.

Google Places - Almost everyone uses Google to find things online, so it’s in your interest to make sure your business comes up. Google Places lets you create free business listing, and perform detailed analysis on the traffic you get from it. It also integrates with Google Maps. With so many businesses online now, it’s hard to get noticed without using keywords and search optimisation, but listing your business here is near essential.

If your based in Devon - why not advertise on www.barnstapletowncentre.co.uk

Tags: Marketing Strategies, Business Directories, Content Marketing, SEO

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