How to Use Relevant and Targeted Directories for Link Building

Do you remember the phone book?

I know…it’s practically an ancient artifact. But it was useful, in its time.

Not only could you close your eyes, open a random page, and blindly point to a number to prank (not that I know anything about that), but you could also go back to the back of the book – to “yellow” . pages” – to search for local businesses.

Now, telephone directories are practically obsolete. You search online for the product or service you need, and when you include your location, you can find a store nearby in minutes.

That’s exactly what you did with the phone book, just…without all the paper cuts.

According to Google, 80% of consumers in the United States use search engines to find local businesses:

“Consumers are looking for local information everywhere, on every device, at every step of the buying process.”

What does that tell you?

You want your business to be found online.

Even if you’re not an SEO expert, or if link building isn’t in your wheelhouse, don’t worry…

There is a web directory for that.

3 benefits of using online directories

Online directories – also known as business directories or business listings – are an easy way for businesses to build links and drive traffic to their site.

Here are three benefits of using an online directory:

1. Targeted and relevant reach

Directories typically index businesses by niche, location, or category, and often include reviews.

When someone uses an online directory, they want to locate a business that matches their needs – what they are looking for at that exact moment.

A directory makes it very easy for consumers to cut through the (marketing) noise.

By listing your business in a directory, you increase your site’s visibility, which also increases the chances of a sale.

How to Use Relevant and Targeted Directories for Link Building

2. Bonds of Trust

Improving your site’s SEO and rankings is a good by-product of listing your business in an online directory. Online directories are reliable sources and are usually high ranking sites themselves.

Adding your link to an authority site seems like a no-brainer, especially if it means improved visibility and reach, and the possibility of improving the referencing and ranking of sites.

How to Use Relevant and Targeted Directories for Link BuildingHow to Use Relevant and Targeted Directories for Link Building

3. Profitability

Many online directories – for example, Bing Places, Yelp and Foursquare – allow businesses to submit their information to their index for free. Some online directories, on the other hand, charge listing fees.

However, it may be worth adding your business information to a paid directory. After all, trusted and high authority links are a marketing investment.

How to Use Relevant and Targeted Directories for Link Building

3 Ways to Find the Right Directory for Your Business

There are many types of directories online. For example, you can find general directories, business listings, local listings, and niche directories.

Choosing the directory – or directories – you want to be listed on is not like throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks.

As with all other marketing tactics, you need to have a web directory link building strategy.

Here are some things to consider when developing your strategy:

1. Relevance

Relevance – and reaching your target audience – is key to getting the most out of an online directory. Relevance is also a factor that search engines consider when crawling sites.

Are you a travel agency in Texas that specializes in road trips within the continental United States?

In this case, do not add your business to a list of international travel sites.

It’s irrelevant, you won’t reach your target audience, and even if someone clicks on your link, they’ll only be frustrated that you don’t offer international travel services.

If you’re not an international travel business, you don’t want search engines to associate your website with international travel. And yes it can hurt SEO!

Choose a directory relevant to your niche, and the chances of reaching your target audience and boosting your SEO will be much higher.

2. Domain Authority

When deciding between online directories, consider domain authority.

It may be more helpful to get an inbound link from a site with a high domain authority (but not always – read more in The Truth About Domain Authority: What Every SEO Should Understand).

You can check if you’re listing your business on a reputable, well-established directory by checking domain authority using a tool like Ahrefs, Alexa, or Moz.

The higher the domain authority of a website, the more likely it is to rank on the SERPs. So aim for the stars.

How to Use Relevant and Targeted Directories for Link Building

3. Find the right features

Some online directories are more detailed than others, and it’s up to you whether you want a simple NAP+W listing (name, address, phone, and web URL) or a listing with photos, reviews, and grades.

In the interest of reaching your target audience, taking advantage of directories with more features will be worth the extra effort.

Listing your business in a directory with additional features will encourage your customers to provide reviews and ratings as well, which is helpful in building site authority and SEO.

Stay consistent

Whichever online directory you choose, the key is to stay consistent with your information and updates.

If you list your business in multiple directories, make sure every detail, down to the last detail, is accurate, on-brand, and consistent across each listing.

Not only is this crucial to the success of your link building strategy, but it’s also important to your business reputation.

While it’s easy to overlook the use of web directories in favor of other “sexier” marketing trends, listing your business on a relevant online directory is one of the best and easiest! – things you can do for your business and website.

Summary

Time range: Months 1-3

Results detected: 4-12 months

Average directories per month: 6

Tools:

  • Relevant web directory
  • Domain Authority Checker (e.g. Ahrefs, Alexa, Moz)

Advantages of directories:

  • Targeted and relevant reach
  • Inbound links from trusted and high authority sites
  • Profitability

Image credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by the author

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