You could have come across several business directories full of businesses to compare against each other if you've ever searched for a service or product online. But are they useful to your brand and should they be part of the marketing plan of your business? Find out the pros and cons of using them to create the credibility of your organization online.
The marketing pros
- Boost the chances of being noticed:
By being online in more fields, you increase the ability for potential clients to be discovered and also improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which will bring more people to your website. You'll also benefit from getting backlinks from more online sites, which is perfect for improving SEO again (although see our health warning about this below at the top of our list of cons).
- Let's let people find out if you're good:
Before agreeing to purchase a product or service, many people want to see feedback and ratings from past customers as it gives some legitimacy to what you think about yourself. More customers are likely to prefer your business over others if you're getting good feedback. Some directories also allow customers to check for star ratings, so your business could be at the top of the related listings if you do a good job and get good reviews.
The marketing cons
- Unfortunately, Google has found over the years that these web directories have cheated the system by improving their SEO through the spamming of backlinks. Google also penalizes businesses that are located in such directories to fight this, so make sure you do your homework and just join those that are reputable. A vetting procedure (they do not welcome anyone) and credibility are positive indicators: if you have heard of them and know other organizations that list themselves in the database, that's a good sign. If they get leads from their listing, it's an even better indication, as this tells you that you are likely to earn returns on your marketing investment.
- Pay to win: Company directories themselves are companies. Some of them charge for all listings; others improve the listings of those who pay for advertisements or a higher position on their lists, such as sites like Google and Facebook. Within your overall marketing plan and budget, you need to weigh up the expenses and possible benefits of your listings.