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Marketer Developer Agency General

Off Page SEO: Help Your Local Business Be Found Online

April 6, 2020

Imagine you've gone to a local business directory for certified accountants and found a specialist that provides the services you're looking for. You click on their website URL and come up with a dead link. Or you call, and are greeted with the ear-splitting sound of a fax line. How do you react? 

  1. You'll probably wonder who uses fax machines anymore and 
  2. You'll move onto the next business listing.
  3. You might try to Google the accountant, but they're so deep in the SERPs you give up before searching beyond the first page.

Obviously, that accountant isn't aware that inaccurate and inconsistent directory listings damage their local SEO cred (bad!) and deliver a blow to brand trust (REALLY bad!). They're clearly making sure brand mentions and business citations are up-to-date, properly formatted, and on-message. 

Best practices for managing online directory listings and reviews

"Move beyond viewing web directories as a source for links. Instead, view directories as a source of traffic and trust." — Search Engine Journal

Leading search engines like Google and Bing want to deliver search results that make their users happy. Ample directory listings, active and relevant links, and a consistent business citation format, NAP (business name, address, and phone), prove you're open to business and help with off page SEO. Consistent, informative business descriptions, especially those that cement your claim to keywords, increase your chances of higher listing in local search. And when you respond to product reviews on Google or other third-party sites, you confirm to everyone that customer satisfaction is a priority. 

Create written "elevator pitches" 

Most online directories allow you to briefly describe your business. Remember, first impressions count! We recommend you come up with a few go-to paragraphs you can adapt as appropriate: One that's about 150 characters or fewer, another around 300 characters, and longer descriptions for listings that are a bit more generous with space. Keep your tone and language consistent, and add URLs to product and service pages that most closely relate to the business directories. Let's say you're a general contractor, and you're part of the National Roofing Contractors Association. You'd want to specifically mention roofing in your description, choose the appropriate blurb length, and add the URL to your roofing services page.

Build a template

Create a document from which you can cut-and-paste formatted descriptions. If you're working with a team, add a few guidelines—similar to a content stylesheet—to establish brand voice and tone. Want some inspiration? Check out our free off-site listing template

Increase visibility with prolific citations

One of the best ways to ensure that your site appears often in search results is by creating local business profiles on multiple high-ranking online directory sites. It's a numbers game: When your audience sees your brand at every turn, they'll have more opportunities to click through to your site or pick up the phone and call. Bonus round: When you're listed in all the right places, you earn brand trust with search engines and your audience. 

Don't post your listings all at once! 

While you'll want to seek out and update all existing online directories as soon as possible, hold off on carpet-bombing business directories with new listings. Your audience won't know the difference, but search engines will might think something hinky is afoot. SEO.CO recommends a more organic approach: "Keep the process natural by building several links at a regular pace; say, two to five per business day." 

Online directories

We'll start with the obvious: Google is the review site of choice. 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a local business — more than any other review site. Claim your Google My Business listing, keep it current, and take advantage of its posting features for special offers. 

Here are just a few other leading free business directories you won't want to neglect: 

Don't forget your trade association directories, local Chambers of Commerce, and popular search directories that focus on particular markets: Houzz and Porch for example, or TripAdvisor

Your social media profiles

Are your NAP and business descriptions current and accurate on your Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter pages? Go check! While you're there, practice some social listening to find out what people are saying about your brand. Jump into the conversation and maintain engagement. 

Enlist a powerful, intuitive CMS platform

We know what you're thinking: "Who's got the time to keep track of all my business listings?" And we hope you're thinking, "How can I find (and fix) my company's profile I didn't even create on business listing sites?"  You need a content management system that makes it easy to manage your website to keep your brand in front of your prospects and at the top of SERPs. Let us show you the ways of Marketpath. We're a fully managed SaaS CMS. That means we host, offer the SSL, and provide unlimited support—even though our customer service team complains that the shallow learning curve makes theirs a very lonely, boring job.

Don't just take our word for it.

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Related Tags: Marketers, Small Business, Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Agencies, Marketing, Credibility

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