Utilizing Local Directories for Business Growth

Image of Scott Baradell
Scott Baradell
Published: Feb 12, 2024

Before the age of the internet, there was one place to find a local business: the Yellow Pages. Now, customers rely mostly on search engines to bring them the answers they need the most.

The days of looking up businesses on paper might be over, but it would be a mistake to overlook the pivotal role of directories in the modern world. In fact, they can be the key to attracting customers in a competitive and oversaturated online market.

From Google My Business to Yelp, online directories help you cut through the online noise and get your brand in front of customers. Getting listed in these directories, however, is just the start. It’s what you do with your directory branding and optimization that sets your business’s directory listing apart.

Let’s explore how you can use local directories to tap into the next level of business growth.

Local Directories: What Do They Do For Businesses? 

Local directories help customers find businesses. Just like the original Yellow Pages, online local directories are designed to put customers in touch with the businesses they need.

Unlike the Yellow Pages, however, it doesn’t take nearly as much manual work. These online platforms, like Google My Business, Angi, and Yelp, let customers search for the businesses they need. They use complex formulas to find the best matches for searchers, both organic and paid.

For businesses, these directories are a place to list information, including details on product offerings, contact information, customer reviews, and hours. By optimizing your listings on these platforms, you can improve your visibility without spending a dollar on marketing efforts.

7 Ways to Use Local Directories to Grow Your Brand 

If you’re struggling to compete in local searches, it might be time to try local directory optimization. When you leverage the best parts of these directories, you can make the most of your listing and get the best possible ranking results.

Here’s what that optimization can look like.

1. Take a Look at Your Current Listing 

If you don’t have Google My Business, this is the time to get one. Although Google is the most broadly popular place to search for businesses, you can also expand your presence to other platforms like Yelp, Yellow Pages, or the Better Business Bureau to further improve your reach.

If any information is missing or incorrect, make sure to update it right away. All business information should be accurate and consistent across platforms.

2. Encourage More Reviews 

These local business directories tell customers everything they want to know about a business. But arguably the most important information can be found in the customer reviews.

Looking at the reviews can tell a prospective customer a lot about your business. Everything from the in-store environment to the helpfulness of staff to the quality of your product or service can play into the public perception of your business, not to mention the listing’s local ranking.

Make sure to encourage satisfied customers to leave a review on all platforms. Respond to each one thoughtfully, even if it’s not a positive review. A kind and open-minded response can go a long way toward showing that you care about the feedback of the people you serve.

3. Sell Your Brand 

A business listing is meant to be informative, first and foremost. If your listing comes across as too sales-oriented, it could even turn prospective customers away. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate subtle strategies to “sell” your brand.

Here are a few ways you can market yourself in a local business listing: 

  • Highlight your best reviews and testimonials in your brand description
  • List any awards or honors your business has received 
  • Feature your business's best photos and videos
  • Mention diverse attributes (if relevant) like “woman-owned,” “LGBT-friendly,” or “wheelchair-accessible” 

4. List a Local Phone Number 

If you’re a local business, make sure you have a local phone number — one with a local area code. This signals to Google and other directory algorithms that you are, in fact, a genuine local business.

To emphasize this, try using location-based keywords in your description. Mention the communities you serve, the city you’re located in, or your general service area at least once in the description, even if your address already shows the location.

5. Include Photos and Videos 

While customers can upload photos of your business to some listings, like Google My Business, don’t rely on your clientele to photograph the establishment. A business listing with no photos might get overlooked in favor of one with photos, either by the algorithm or by a visitor. Even worse, low-quality photos can set a poor reputation for your business.

Make sure you take high-resolution photos, either with a high-quality smartphone camera or a digital camera. Take both exterior and interior shots, including of the parking lot. Also, add product shots (or photos of services being performed) to highlight the range of your services.

If you have them, be sure to upload short videos. These are not only more engaging for viewers, but they can also give you an edge in the algorithm.

6. Make Use of Google Posts 

A recent feature for Google My Business includes “posts.” This allows businesses to advertise directly to consumers on their own local business directories, free of charge.

Unlike social media posts, however, this is a space where you want to keep things brief and to the point. Too much promotion can come across as inauthentic and pushy, which could turn someone away before they can even consider what you have to offer.

Make posts with a thumbnail image and a brief description. If customers click on the post, they can read the rest of your description, where you can explore the topic in more detail. In this space, you can post business updates, as well as special promotions, sales, and coupons.

7. Hire an SEO Expert 

While local directory optimization is something any marketing team can do, it still takes the right strategies to yield the best results. An SEO expert knows the ins and outs of every online directory, including the SEO strategies it takes to get the best performance. They can implement more advanced optimization techniques to keep improving your listing for better visibility, rankings, and ultimately sales.

Harnessing the Power of Local Directories 

These days, digital marketing can feel like shouting into the void. With millions of brands — and even more content — to sift through, businesses have to fight for the attention of their target audience.

Local business directories, however, offer a direct line to your customers. Instead of competing for their engagement, you can let them come to you. When locals turn to search engines to find businesses they can trust, your optimized profile will tell them everything they need to know.

If you haven’t fully realized the potential of your online directories, there’s never been a better time to start. It’s time to take control of your online presence and start getting the local engagement you need to succeed.

Of course, local directory optimization takes time, not to mention plenty of trial and error. When you work with the experts at Trust Signals, there won’t be any guesswork. We’ll work with you to implement the best optimization methods and campaigns to get you the meaningful results you're looking for. Learn more about what we do for local brands, or contact us today to start a partnership.

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