In this article, I’ll reveal the pros and cons of listing your business on nine of my favorite business listing sites for local businesses, as well as sharing tips for optimizing for better visibility.
By now, you should have mastered the art of optimizing for Google My Business, but what about alternative options to consider for better SEO and visibility? With free listings and directories available, you may want to create a business profile elsewhere, too.
I’m not suggesting you create a business listing on every possible directory, after all, as someone in SEO you know the “quality over quantity” principle holds true.
But there are numerous sites that are worth optimizing for as part of your foundational local SEO strategy. In general, it’s worth choosing the most relevant platforms where your target audience “lives” and setting up a profile there.
So, without further ado, here are the top nine free directories for your consideration.
Free Business Listing Sites
Known as the “word of mouth” website, Yelp is the fourth most visited review site on the Internet. About 200 million people read reviews there monthly to make buying decisions. 75% of users come to Yelp via Google search, while 20% visit the website directly in search of product reviews to decide if they want to buy from a business.
Studies show that just one additional star in a business’s Yelp rating can lead to a 9% increase in revenue.
With those numbers in mind, it’s worth listing your business on Yelp for improved reputation and visibility.
How to Create a Yelp Listing
To set up a local business listing at Yelp, go to the page for business owners and find and claim your client’s business there or add it yourself if it’s definitely not already set up — you’ll want to make sure you’re not creating duplicate listings, so check thoroughly before beginning the setup process. After that, you can verify the account via phone, text, or call.
Before you can get to optimizing, it’s important to ensure the basics are completed: Fill in all the relevant information about your business, add high-quality, authentic photos, and remember to provide images with proper filenames, alt tags, and descriptions.
How to Optimize for Yelp
To start optimizing your Yelp profile, first think of keywords that are relevant to your client’s business and incorporate them into the business description. Focus on location-based and service-based ones and make sure to write at least 1,000 words of keyword-optimized content. As always, remember that keywords are there to guide search engines and potential customers — so avoid keyword stuffing and other spammy techniques.
Next, it’s important to choose the right Yelp business category. On Yelp you’re allowed to choose up to three categories but make sure they are highly relevant. Otherwise, you could hurt, rather than help, your rankings.
If you want to go the extra mile and gain more visibility on Yelp, embed a clickable Yelp badge on your website so visitors can go directly to the listing and read reviews there.
As with any site where you can get customer reviews, it’s important to be responsive. Not only is it good business practice, but it will also show Yelp’s algorithm that your business is active and trusted.
Another optimization factor to consider here is check-ins and check-in offers. Encourage customers to “check-in” to your business by creating a special offer. For example, a discount, a free glass of wine or a dessert, a chance to win a gift card, a brand accessory, and so on. The kind of offer that appeals to your client’s customer will vary based on the business type, but feel free to get creative here.
Finally, depending on your industry, you should opt into the “request a quote” feature at Yelp, which helps to attract more people to click on your listing. As always, responses here count. Respond to quote requests that come in — address the sender by name, stay authentic, and respond promptly. To speed up the process, come up with a few customizable templates. And remember to flag spam messages and mark those you’ve replied to.
Bing Places for Business works similarly to Google My Business — in fact, you can even sync up listings, as I’ll explain later on.
Bing may hold just 2.45% of the search engine market, but that still comprises hundreds of millions of daily searches. Plus, Amazon’s Alexa uses Bing to source content for voice searches. Given that 76% of users perform local voice searches at least weekly and 46% look for info on local businesses with voice search daily, optimizing for Bing is still certainly worth considering.
How to Create a Bing Places listing
Setting up a Bing Places for Business profile is straightforward. Create an account or sign in with your Google account, importing your Google My Business listing to Bing.
If you don’t want to import the information from GMB, simply claim or add a new Bing Places account. As usual, add all the relevant information about your local business, select the primary category for it, and enter contact information (NAP) for potential customers to find it.
How to Optimize for Bing Places
Bing Places loves photos, so add as many photos as you can. Bing values high-quality images and allows up to 100 in the listing, so incorporate pictures of your business location, products, brand logo, happy customers, and anything else that might be helpful for customers to recognize you. Remember to optimize any pictures you upload with alt tags and file names.
Secondly, attach social media accounts to your listing. Anywhere your customers might use to reach your local business is worth adding. Incorporating your social presence is your chance to not only influence rankings but also show your customers the personality behind your business.
Finally, you need to accumulate reviews. As ever, you can perform review generation outreach by email. You can also add a CTA to the business description, asking people to rate their experience.
BBB (aka Better Business Bureau)
Adding a local business to BBB will signal to customers that they can trust it. As one of the best review sites on the web, any information submitted to BBB is moderated and reviewed before publishing. BBB makes a considerable effort to only allow reviews from verified customers.
Plus, this online directory helps to increase customer loyalty and online visibility. The local SEO advantage of having a BBB listing is that it ranks well for brand searches. It’s worth noting that, despite some speculation, Google has denied using BBB as a search ranking factor.
How to Create a BBB listing
To submit a local business to BBB, follow standard instructions: find and verify it there, or add a new listing if your business isn’t in the directory yet. For companies with multiple locations, you can create one listing that represents all locations or different listings for each separate area. Both options have pros and cons.
How to Optimize for BBB
Begin by adding all the relevant content you can: logo, business overview, and/or description, photos and videos, products and services, offers, and so on.
As with the other directories on this list, choosing the right business category is vital.
Finally, you can add links to your website and social media accounts.
Angie’s List is a directory that works best for local businesses operating in home repair, auto industry, health care, pet care, and professional services. It’s where consumers can find and review providers in their local communities, looking for those with the best customer service.
How to Create an Angie’s List Profile
By setting up a business profile at Angie’s, you can monitor and grow customer feedback and generate new leads by influencing users’ buying decisions with direct communication in reviews.
Once added to Angie’s List, your listing needs further optimization for better visibility. Besides the general information about your client’s business (name, address, working hours, logo, services description, etc.), make sure to add pictures. Images of employees performing their work are a great option here.
How to Optimize for Angie’s List
Angie’s List optimization is all about customer reviews. To get them, invite some loyal customers to leave their feedback at Angie’s, share the link to the listing on social media, or consider the “Request Reviews” option at Angie’s (You can use this to send review invitations to customers via email).
With more than 65 million local business pages available, Facebook provides a great opportunity to improve online visibility, build and grow customer community, and get low-cost but high-reach local advertising.
How to Create a Facebook Business Page
Setting up a business page on Facebook, you might need to claim its unofficial page there, first. Sometimes, this social network generates business listings automatically based on the available info online. Just click “Is this your business?” button, claim this listing, and verify it by phone or with documents.
In the case that there are no unofficial business listings of your business on Facebook, create a new one.
How to Optimize for Facebook
To optimize your listing on Facebook, consider the following:
- Use the same business name as you have in Google My Business and other listings.
- Customize the URL with a brand keyword.
- Include ALL the info in the About section, adding targeted keywords wherever relevant.
- Add a CTA button.
- Start generating recommendations and building up your online reputation.
Though not technically a directory, according to social media statistics, 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business page there, so it can be a great opportunity for local businesses to get found online. Beyond that, 72% of users claim to have purchased a product after seeing it on Instagram.
So, if you market to younger demographics (only 29% of Instagram users are over 35), this network may be worth your time.
How to Optimize for Instagram
To get the most of your Instagram listing, try the following tips:
- Keep it separate from (i.e. not connected to) Facebook business or personal accounts.
- Make sure it’s switched to a Professional Account to benefit from in-app insights and contact options. (You can choose this option in Account Settings.)
- Remember to make use of business categories and links in bio.
- Think about keyworded hashtags to use with content and in your bio.
- Use the geo-tagging feature to appear in local SERPs.
- Once your listing is optimized, you’ll want to come up with a content strategy and plan: To grow engagement from followers, you’ll need to post each day and get creative so that they would listen to you. Here comes the matter of work for an SMM specialist.
LinkedIn is not for global brands only. Listing your local business there, you’ll increase its exposure and credibility. (It’s especially relevant for finance-based companies.) Due to its professional nature, LinkedIn brings up to 80% of B2B social media leads to businesses.
How to Create a Business Profile on LinkedIn
Setting up a business profile on LinkedIn is simple: go to the Work option from your profile and choose “Create a Company Page” there.
How to Optimize for LinkedIn
For better optimization, consider the most relevant business category and mention the company’s type and size. Choose a custom button to display so users could follow, find, or contact you.
It’s important to pay particular attention to your description. Think of keywords representing your key offerings, and make sure to include them at the very beginning of the company’s tagline.
Drive more traffic to your client’s website by adding a link to it in the longer-form “About” description. The more info you include to the profile, the more weekly views the LinkedIn page will get. Update it regularly to maintain visibility and help search engines recognize it.
Alignable is a B2B network for local businesses. Although less well known than some of the sites mentioned above, as of right now, they have about 22,000 communities on the platform. Listing your client’s business there, you can help it get referrals from other small business owners.
Alignable listings help you monitor competitors, connect with partners, and ask/answer questions to promote your products or services. More than that, it’s a great chance to get one more local SEO citation for a business.
How to Create a Listing on Alignable
The process of setting up a business profile at Alignable is standard: sign up, add and verify a listing, and complete the profile for better visibility.
How to Optimize for Alignable
- Complete the About Us and Our Ideal Customer sections with keyworded descriptions.
- Mention your client’s products and services, as well as businesses with whom you’d like to collaborate.
- Update all the contact info, add links to the website and social media profiles. You might also want to connect the Alignable listing to your Facebook account so that all promotions would appear there too.
Alignable encourages recommendations from customers, so monitor and respond to them for a better online reputation.
According to the Yellow Pages website, 60 million people still search for local businesses in their directory each month. So why not get listed there for free to attract a broader audience of potential customers and improve local SEO?
How to Get Listed on Yellow Pages
Sign up for a new account (you can do that with Facebook or Google accounts too), and claim your business via the “Get Your Free Listing” section.
How to Optimize for Yellow Pages
After filling up all the necessary information and verifying your business listing at YP, make sure to optimize it accordingly: business categories, written description, list of products, logo, photos, website URL, and social media links — they all matter for better local search. And keep everything updated to make sure customers and search engines get relevant information.
The correct categorization of your local business in Google has always been a top factor for high rankings. It impacts search results and the overall online presence for customers to find and know about a business. So, when building local business listings elsewhere, optimize them and double-check primary and secondary business categories there.
Business listings such as Google My Business and others serve to improve your local SEO performance, influence online reputation, and send customers your way. So be sure to use them wisely to help search engines classify local businesses right.
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