How do new customers first find your business?
We often think of them typing a relevant search into Google and clicking through the results to get to your website. Sure, this does sometimes happen, but in fact, over 80% of the answers on brands and businesses come from unverified third-party sources.
It?s more likely that someone searching for the product or service you supply will use one of these third-party directory sites and read about your business (and your competitors) there first. Mobile users also increasingly use directory apps to find local businesses.
These third-party sites and apps are called online directories, and managing them is called online directory management.
Online Directories are Extremely Important
These online directories are the backbone of the internet and they?ve only become more powerful as time has passed.
At first, online directories like Yahoo and DMOZ were the home pages of the internet, with people using them as virtual Yellow Pages. As search engines improved they took over as the go-to place for information, but search engines continued to rely on the information in directories to populate results.
Online directories are high-traffic, high-authority sites, so more often than not they will be ranked higher than your website for relevant searches. Your potential customers will go to them first and get their first impression of your business from the online directory.
If the information on your business is incorrect on these directory pages, it can be reflected incorrectly on search engines, mobile apps, and other sites worldwide. The longer that incorrect information is left to rot, the more time this incorrect information has to be passed around onto other websites and social media, making fixing it harder and harder.
Is the Information Available about Your Business Online Correct?
We?ve talked a bit about how monitoring and managing your company?s online reputation is an important part of your online marketing. But even more basic and crucial is ensuring that your basic business information such as your hours, address, and contact information is correct on online directories.
It?s been shown that almost half of local businesses have incorrect information on online directories. This is a huge problem for small businesses that require people to be able to find and contact them.
If your information is incorrect on hyperlocal sites like Foursquare, MapQuest, Yelp, Citysearch, or any one of the hundreds of other directory listing sites, then you?re going to lose business ? and it can snowball.
Consider a situation where a new customer needs your services quickly. They search for your company to find the business address, and the top result they get is an online directory that lists your OLD address. They hurriedly head to the old address, only to find your business has moved! They become irate and they will blame YOUR business ? not the online directory. Later, they will leave scathing reviews online of your company highlighting your lack of professionalism.
Should I Perform My Own Online Directory Management?
Handling the directory management of one?s own business is a time-consuming task that?s prone to error. When details of your business change, you need to remember to update a large number of websites manually, which involves remembering passwords, manually entering details, and going back to check that the changes have been made correctly.
Tools exist to help you check the listings of your business on most major online business directories. This can speed things up a little. You can also pay for a monthly service that keeps an eye on your online directory listings.
The best option is to hand off your online directory management to online marketing specialists ? like us! As we have the tools at our disposal, we can keep your online business listings up to date and returning the correct results when customers search for your business. We also ensure that your branding matches across sites for a more professional look.
We?re not here to scare you about online directories ? they?re a super useful tool that can boost your new business and get it in front of the right eyes even when it?s relatively young. Just ensure that your information on online directories is always up to date or you risk losing out on a lot of custom and goodwill.