Build Your Online Identity: Why Directory Listings Are Critical When You Start a Business

By Brian Lindamood, Manta Content Director

Establishing your online identity is an important first step when you start a business. Here are six reasons to make sure customers can find your new company on smartphone apps, maps, and local directories.

These days, customers use their phones to find local companies. However, instead of a phone book, they rely on smartphone apps, map software, search engines, and local directories. There are more than 70 major sites on the internet that list local business information. If you are trying to start a business, you must add your company to as many of these directories as possible.

But if you already have a website and social media profiles, why does it matter if you’re listed on other sites? Unlike in the days of the phone book, when it was enough to be listed in one place, customers now are using many different apps and directories. The more sites that correctly list your business info, the more likely it is that you’ll be found. And as a new business, it’s even more important that you establish an online identity on these sites.

Here are six reasons why online directory listings are essential when you start a new business.

1. Boost Your Local Search Ranking

When search engines like Google crawl the web, they look for mentions of a company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). If you add your info to online directories, Google recognizes your new business and adds it to the index of local companies.

As you create your business listings, make sure you post the exact same info on every directory—as well as your website and social profiles. Even slight variations, like an abbreviated street address or alternate phone number, tell search engines that your business might not be legit.

When your NAP info is consistent in every citation, on or off your website, search engines will see your business listing as trustworthy. This will boost your rank in search results and possibly earning a place in featured results like Google’s Local Three Pack.

2. Build Consistent Contact Information

Consistency isn’t just key to search engines. It’s also important to customers when you start a business. What happens when a customer finds an incorrect phone number for your business and the line is disconnected? Or try to visit your office or store when you’re closed because you did not add your operating hours?

You need to ensure that customers find your correct phone number and address every time they search, no matter what site they’re using. As the owner of a new business, it’s especially critical that you create a good first impression.

 3. Secure Your Company’s Identity

It’s not enough to add your business to as many directories as you can. You also need to “lock” those listings to make sure they don’t change. To do this, create an account with each major directory, verify that you are the legitimate business owner, and use a password to protect your listings from changes. Listing manager services like Manta’s can help you do this on multiple directories at once.

Online directories get their info from bots that scrape public data sources, such as secretary of state filings. This information is often wrong, due to data-entry errors or various formats from agency to agency. Unfortunately, it can then replace your real listings! It is very important to lock your business listings to protect your online identity.

 4. Establish a Strong Reputation

Many websites and apps that list local businesses — including Google, Facebook and Yelp — also feature customer reviews. This is a great chance to establish a strong reputation for your new company and build trust with customers.

According to a BrightLocal survey, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s why building a presence on review sites is critical — it’s the new word of mouth! Start by asking your customers for feedback and explain that their reviews help improve your business. Also include a link directly to your Google or Facebook reviews page on your invoices, website, or email newsletters.

It is also important to reply to comments on major review sites. You should thank positive reviewers and tell them you appreciate their business. If you get a bad review, don’t lose your cool. Try to defuse the criticism by apologizing and offering to fix the customer’s concern. Remember, your responses on review sites are just as visible as the reviews. A gracious, professional reply helps your business look good.

 5. Increase Traffic to Your Website

When you start a business, and your online listings are consistent, it tells search engines your business is legitimate. Once Google and Bing trust your business, more customers will see it in search results. This leads to more visitors and traffic to your website. A strong reputation with search engines also helps your business earn featured placements like Google’s Local Three Pack, Google Maps, and key spots on mobile searches.

6. Get More Phone Calls from Customers

These days, most people search on phones, not on computers. When a customer finds you with a mobile search, they are just as likely to call your phone number as they are to visit your website. That’s why search engine rankings are important, even if you don’t have a website. You still want your phone number to rank highly in search results when you start a business.

Of course, it is critical for customers to find your correct phone number. When you add your company to online business directories, and make sure your listings are the same everywhere they appear, you help customers find the right info every time.

Manta helps customers find your business. We guarantee accurate and protected business information on sites like Google, Facebook, Bing, Yelp, Apple Maps, and 70 more online directories. Get started for FREE.

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