You’ve no doubt heard of business directories in your local SEO planning and strategy. But just how important are they, and what do you need to know about directories to maximize their value as part of your marketing plan? And, how do business directory reviews impact your online reputation?
In this article, we take a look at exactly what business directories are, the different features you can use to optimize your local search presence, specific business directories that are popular among multi-location brands, and more. Let’s get to it!
What is a Business Directory?
Online business directories are a comprehensive list of businesses. Each business listed has a business profile. A business profile usually lists each location’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). Sometimes, platforms list additional contact information, including the business’s website or social media profiles.
Usually, platforms organize business directories by industry and location. For example, a consumer would find all restaurants in a particular city or town organized together.
A business directory can also include a brief description of the business and the products or services they offer. These listings help your business profile appear on Google Maps, Apple Maps, social media sites, and other places online where potential customers are present. While a “business directory” may be a more antiquated term, there are common platforms you may recognize, such as Google and Facebook, that have prominent business directories.
The Importance of Local Reviews in Business Directories
Claiming and monitoring each listing on important business directory platforms is crucial. Even less prominent business directory platforms can host millions of users and offer unique opportunities to appear in relevant Google Search results.
As a business, you never want to miss an opportunity to convert a potential customer, no matter where they’re finding your business. What’s more, if your contact details aren’t up to date on one of these more niche directories, you risk the searcher seeking your service or product elsewhere.
Across these business directories, consumers are searching for and reading reviews before using a service, purchasing products, or even visiting a brand’s location. In addition, reviews help consumers better understand a brand’s customer service protocols by assessing how well they respond to both negative and positive reviews.
Today, customers regularly look through reviews online, making it a natural part of the customer journey. It influences their perception of a brand’s customer support. It can also give insight into the quality of the product or service and overall user experience with the brand.
Claiming or creating and monitoring your business directory listing enables you to take control of the information being presented to the world around your brand. Choosing the right business categories can impact how and where your listing appears, for example, while filling out as many standard and custom fields as possible helps expand your presence on that platform and convert more users.
Potential customers are looking for:
- Business hours
- Contact details
- Customer support options
- Payment details
- Other user reviews and more
Meeting potential customers in those moments with accurate, complete information is essential.
How to Add Your Business Profile to Online Directories
There are numerous opportunities across directory platforms to add free listings to sites where some of your consumers may already be searching. This not only adds ways for consumers to find your brand, but it creates more opportunities to gather user reviews to give further resources for consumers to choose you. It also gives you more outlets to collect information and feedback to help inform your future business strategy.
On some online directories, you can upgrade to featured listings, as well. Featured online business listings give your brand more prominent placement and therefor increases your exposure.
Keeping those listings up to date is crucial, as well. Not only are consumers looking at these directories, but they inform search listings on different search engines, as well. Data aggregators and online business directories may change the information listed for any given business location based on what appears in customer reviews, user submissions, other online directories, and more.
Tying Reputation Management and Online Directories Together
Online reputation management should be a core function of your online marketing strategy. This is especially true given each directory listing is essentially an online storefront for consumers to form an impression of your brand.
Online reputation management is also crucial for your business’ credibility and growth in your local markets. In addition, it can help you pinpoint key areas for progress since it reflects how your product, services, or brand as a whole is engaging with consumers.
When it’s an option on the platform, it’s crucial to encourage customers to leave reviews and give feedback. But, make sure you’re not incentivizing consumers to leave reviews, as it usually goes against most platforms’ policies.
Brands should create a standard procedure for responding to all reviews, both positive and negative, within twenty-four hours of the review. When it comes to negative reviews, sometimes you can fix the issue the consumer mentions.
Even if that’s not possible, it’s still important to take time and respond to reviews in a timely manner. Then every searcher who sees the interaction in the future will see that the brand was engaged, actively listening, and trying to resolve a negative interaction.
Tips to Elevate Your Local Review Strategy
Now let’s talk about some important tips to elevate your local review strategy. One valuable way to understand your local environment is to take time to research and analyze your local review landscape. This includes reading customer reviews at the store level, as customers will have different experiences at each of your locations.
Then you’ll be able to identify opportunities and locate industry-specific business directories that might benefit your brand. It’s also crucial to understand how your team can work together to monitor and respond to customer reviews.
Brands can create a measurement plan with reporting and insights to evaluate their reputation management procedures’ performance over time. Now let’s break down the best business directory review sites.
Best Business Directory Reviews Sites
Here are the top ten business directory review sites all brands should consider creating a listing for:
1. Google Business Profile
With Google being one of the top search engines, Google Business Profiles (GBPs) are essential to marketing on Google. Businesses should create a Google Business Profile, optimize their profile, and regularly interact with reviews.
In addition, there are numerous capabilities for customers to customize reviews for GBPs, including a star rating, writing a description of their interaction, and then the ability for consumers to leave critical or positive attributes to describe their interaction with the business in their review.
Businesses with GBPs have the ability to interact with customers by responding to both positive and negative reviews, creating Google Posts, and messaging consumers. However, the Google Messaging feature must be enabled by the business to message customers.
Since Google generally prompts customers to leave reviews, you can get more feedback through GBPs than other business directory platforms.
Additionally, brand locations can become Google Trusted Stores, which Google says is designed to “help customers find merchants who offer a superior online shopping experience.”
2. Bing Places
Bing Places is another excellent platform to interact with customers through their listings and reviews. It’s important to claim and complete your listing if you haven’t already. Bing Places is essentially the GBP for Bing, where brands can see their listing on Bing and in the maps results.
Markets often discount the importance of Bing, but it’s important to prioritize adding Bing to your listings. In addition, since customers can no longer directly write reviews, it’s important to have reviews on other platforms for Bing to present when consumers search for your business on Bing.
Social media is a prominent marketing tool for most businesses, and Facebook listings are a crucial part of that. Consumers don’t use social media just to share posts with family and friends.
For example, they also use Facebook and other social media platforms to find recommendations for businesses and see ratings and reviews. Facebook has an efficient user dashboard for business listings and offers the opportunity to highlight and utilize reviews to enhance brand awareness and loyalty.
4. Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is another widely used platform that consumers use to verify a business to see if it is trustworthy and reputable. In addition, the platform highlights how likely a company is to respond to a customer and how they fulfill requests and respond to negative interactions.
It also highlights both the positive and negative of a business which can be an essential factor in a consumer’s decision. Companies can become BBB accredited businesses, and the BBB will provide a rating from A-F based on ratings from consumers, much like a 1-5 star rating seen on other platforms.
When it comes to Yelp for businesses, it’s crucial to claim and optimize your listing on Yelp. It’s another important platform for consumers to get all the information they need to purchase from your brand, with over 244 million local users.
In addition, Yelp commonly appears in local search results, and customers rely on it for a brand’s credibility. Not only is Yelp an efficient platform for reviews, but it has business tools like its Business Blog Newsletter, marketing events, and its Trust & Safety Report.
The Yellow Pages Directory is another longstanding reliable resource for consumers to go through reviews. With over 80 million consumers, it’s an excellent resource for local businesses to showcase their products and services and manage reviews. In addition, it remains a valuable place for companies to claim and optimize their listing.
For food, shopping, nightlife, and more, Foursquare is another place consumers look to for reviews and to find local businesses. Many small and large businesses utilize Foursquare to promote their business and reach their local audience.
This platform offers a quick way for customers to learn about local brands. The platform also suggests places consumers may be interested in the more they use it. In addition, consumers can check in and easily leave reviews of local businesses they visit. One unique feature of this platform is that companies can include tips for consumers.
CitySearch is a longstanding platform that supports local businesses and communities across the US. It’s another free platform to claim your listing in a couple of simple steps.
CitySearch also has advertising solutions for local businesses and local ad sales organizations to maximize your reach in your community. They offer business listings for numerous services and industries including appliance repair, hotels, plumbers, restaurants, veterinarians and more.
Another platform brands should aim to claim their listing from is Local.com. This platform allows brands from numerous industries to create free listings and is another review platform important to local users.
Local.com offers listing opportunities for numerous industries. In addition, brands can pay for capabilities like “Features Listings” on this platform to show more prominently in relevant searches.
Numerous brands utilize Trustpilot to increase their relevance for Google and up their click-through rate. In turn, brands are better able to boost conversion rates and optimize their review presence. Like other platforms, Trustpilot has customizable invitations and reminders to send to customers so they can leave more reviews.
Industry-Specific Business Directories
There are numerous industry-specific business directories that businesses should look into as they can better reach a brand’s target market since you know whoever is looking at the industry-specific directory is interested in your industry already.
Some examples include HealthGrades, Wellness, and Vitals, which are platforms that offer information about doctors, healthcare providers, and hospitals. Edmunds, CarGurus, Kelley Blue Book, and DealerRater are industry-specific directories that have features like automotive inventories and reviews, as well as service and dealer reviews and listings. For the software industry, Capterra and G2 are for buyers and technology vendors.
In addition, travelers rely on sights like TripAdvisor and Hotels.com, where businesses can promote their hotels and bookings for transportation. Booksy is another business directory for beauty and cosmetic companies to highlight their products and services. For gardening, landscaping, and home improvement business listing, there are Contractor Hub, Houzz, and Porch.
Since negative reviews can significantly decrease profits and avert consumers, it’s crucial to prioritize business directories for your specific industry.
There are numerous general and industry-specific business directory platforms that brands should consider incorporating into their marketing and online reputation management strategy. Prioritizing prominent directory platforms can help elevate a brand’s visibility. It can also build trust and authority for its brand.
Since consumers heavily rely on online reviews, it’s crucial for brands to create a strategy for brands to monitor and respond to reviews across listings for all locations. Business directory review monitoring and engagement should be a central part of your local listings management strategy.
Online reputation management can be overwhelming for multi-location brands. To learn more about reputation management software integration for multi-location companies, go here to book your free demo.