Here’s How to Use Online Directories to Boost Your Business

With social media assuming much of the marketing spotlight, online business directories get little attention these days. And that’s too bad. Because while Facebook and Twitter business pages are essential marketing tools for companies, so are other platforms.

Business directories can be highly effective tools for building an online reputation and enhancing brand recognition. Dedicated business directories, such as Google My Business and Crunchbase, also enhance SEO and attract strategic partnerships. For example, this company’s Crunchbase profile takes advantage of the platform’s overview and link options.

Business directories differ in scope from social media. Social media is designed to engage and grow communities of followers. Directories are fact driven. The best practices for building a social media business profile is very different than that of a business directory. Your profile in a business directory doesn’t focus on charm and persona, but information.

Business Directory Basics

Business directories vary in purpose and target group, but most require the same basic information. Not every section below will apply to your business and not all directories contain each of the following options. The best practices below cover profile basics of nearly any directory you choose to use.

  • Key People: Transparency is the name of the game in a business directory. Include the names of the people in charge, from leadership to executives to vital managers. Include onboard investors and distinguished advisers. Name dropping is allowed as long as it’s legitimate.
  • Physical Address: It’s a global economy. People want to know where a business is located. Provide your company headquarters’ physical address as well as the addresses of other locations.  
  • Avoid Generic Contact Information: Don’t hide behind a contact form or use a generic email address, such as [email protected] Instead, list the individual email address of each key person. Generic email addresses can turn people off and discourage connections.
  • Create an Effective Summary: Use the summary section to effectively describe what your company does.
  • Money & Fundraising Achievements: List your company’s highest-level sales accomplishments and milestones. Also include successful fundraising rounds. Use “as of (date)” for figures.
  • Announce Job Openings: If you’re hiring, say so. You’ll not only attract job seekers, but a company that’s hiring appears successful and in growth mode.
  • Permit Customer Reviews: Positive reviews bolster credibility and build trust. Of course, there’s the possibility of bad reviews along with the good, but if your company does what it does well, the positive will outweigh the bad.

Tips to Enhance Your Online Business Profile

A basic profile in an online business directory is a great start, but you can do so much more within the confines of a given directory. Improve your online presence, build a stronger brand, inform prospects, attract investors and find top talent with the following tips to create a powerful business directory listing.

1. Upload Your Logo: If the directory allows logo uploads, add yours. Use the same logo throughout your online channels from website to social media to business directories. Your logo may not be as recognizable as McDonald’s or FedEx, but consistency breeds familiarity.

2. Jazz Up Your Summary:  Think of the summary as your directory elevator pitch. The summary has to be concise, yet descriptive. Optimum length is 150-250 words. Follow these tips:

  • Use Keywords and Phrases for SEO Purposes. The summary may be short, but sprinkling one or two keywords or phrases within the content facilitates search engine optimization. Use them sparingly, however.
  • What Does Your Business Do? An effective summary begins with a description of what the company does. Take a look at your product or service listings and company mission statement and come up with a precise one sentence description.
  • Target the Right Audience. Next, identify your customers and clients. Who is your target audience? Describe your ideal client and define the problems they face. Your business should be the problem’s solution, but here come up with two to three sentences to prove you understand and emphasize with the issues clients face.
  • Why Are You Different? The next part of your summary should be one to two sentences long and explain why your company is better at providing client problem solutions than other businesses. Refer to your unique selling proposition (USP) if you have one. If you don’t, use this opportunity to write one.   
  • Create a Call to Action. Encourage readers to reach out. Provide a link to the company website, blog or online store and an email address to make it easy for people to contact you.

3. Choose the Right Online Directories: Conventional wisdom is that the more you get your business name out there, the better. In a general sense that’s true, but when there are literally hundreds of business directories, some with more weight than others, it’s not feasible to go for all. As valuable as business directories are, you won’t have time to list your business in every available directory. Focus on a select few

If your business is primarily local, Google My Business, Yahoo!, Bing and Angie’s List business directories are great choices. If your company is global, look at Crunchbase, LinkedIn and Google. Also consider industry- and investor-specific directories.  

4. Update Often: Another reason to concentrate on a few well-known directories is it takes less time to update a few directories than a hundred. And, you will have to update. An outdated profile is worse than no profile at all.

New phone number? Update your listings. New CEO? Update your entries. Add new milestones and remove outdated information. Make sure everything is in sync with current business facts.

5. Fill Every Field In: Some directories are limited in scope. You’ll only be able to input key information and not much else. Others offer abundant space as well as opportunities to publish and share information. Make use of every field and option available.

For example, LinkedIn is the most widely used networking site for business and professionals. A free LinkedIn business profile is well worth the time it takes to build a company page, create an effective profile and engage with other professionals and businesses.   

The Takeaway? Clearly, business directories don’t get the hype social media does, but they still have incredible value when it comes to branding, building a strong online reputation, networking, search engine optimization and attracting prospects.

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