In today’s world, by far the most common way for potential customers to find a business they’re looking for is via a search engine. Typically, a user will head to Google and type in what type of product or service they want, perhaps in their local area. For any small to medium enterprise (SME), therefore, appearing on search results pages is absolutely vital. If your competitors appear on search engine pages and you don’t, you’re basically handing them business.
As a starting point, then, registering your business with Google is a must. Their basic listing service is free, and it’s a good idea to sign up with Google Business so that you can keep track of your performance and rankings via their app. Once you’ve taken this first step, however, there are lots of other ways to ensure your website both attracts customers and makes its way up search engine optimisation (SEO) rankings.
If going to Google is the most common way of finding businesses, the organic search is also far and away the main way this is carried out. Searching organically means opening up a search without using a company name. A typical organic search would be “bike shops in Oxford” or “solicitors in Kingston”. Organic searches like these actually make up more than half of every hit on the internet, not just of searches. This should give you an idea of how important it is to appear on organic search results pages if, for instance, you have a bike shop in Oxford.
As soon as you have a website, hosted by any hosting service, this will register with some search engines. For example, Google have their Googlebot program, which scours the entire internet looking for any new website, and then uses an algorithm to decide whether a new site should be added to their main search engine index. As this is absolutely vast, just registering a website with a hosting service and waiting for Googlebot to find it is not a wise course of action. Far better is to actively register with Google, and especially with their Google Business service. To do this, you need to enter your company name, physical address (if that’s something you want to be searched on), opening hours if applicable, and other details, not forgetting website address. You should also enter details of exactly what you do. Once registered, you may choose to invest in premium services, but this is by no means compulsory.
A very important aspect of digital marketing (which is what online listings are for) is that it needs to be an ongoing process. There is no point having your business listed on a directory which drives little or no business your way, so you should remove yourself from such a site immediately. As well as a lack of custom, redundant listings will actually push your company’s website down internet rankings, along with the site itself. With a little time and effort, you may decide to dedicate a budget to maintaining your online presence, perhaps including writing a regular blog. At the very least, descriptions of all your products and / or services should be totally up to date. Experienced, professional and reputable online business directory sites have experts who will ensure this updating is done regularly and to the most beneficial effect.
Free Directory Listings
As new business directory sites come online regularly, almost all of them offer a free listing service for basic digital marketing. Such a site might be specifically relevant to your geographical area, or the type of product you make, service you provide etc. If you do choose to register with a new site, it’s probably a good idea to come off another, especially if it is producing minimal through traffic. It’s important to remember that quality matters, not quantity. Also, keep an eye on your competition (again, this is where digital marketing experts employed by online directories can help) to see which directories they are using. This doesn’t mean you have to follow everything your competitors do; indeed, you might identify a channel not being used by your competition which you can exploit.