Why Online Directories Still Matter for Small Businesses
By Petter Martinsen
In this day, there are about a thousand different methods that a small business can employ to stand out on the web — though, of course, some are more effective than others. SEO, social marketing, and even online reputation management are big businesses. The place of the online directory — once a solid way to gain online visibility — has, meanwhile, fallen by the wayside.
But that fate may not be entirely fair. The truth of the matter is that an online directory can still be an invaluable tool for small businesses seeking to gain greater online exposure. The trick is knowing how these directories really work and, more to the point, how search engines themselves really work.
Good Links v. Bad
It all goes back to the bedrock principles of SEO. If you’re a small business owner, you need your website to be positioned in a way that it can gain traction on the search engines, and traffic from users. This is easier said than done, of course; there is no magic spell to entice traffic to your site. Your best bet is to use the most advanced SEO techniques to ensure that your online content “ranks” well on Google, Yahoo and Bing.
One of the most fundamental methods of SEO is backlink building. Here’s how it works in a nutshell: When determining how well your page will “rank” for a given search query, one of the primary things that Google looks at is how many other pages are linking to your site. The more links you’ve accrued, the better your rankings are likely to be.
With that said, there is very much a difference between bad links and good ones. If you’re paying for links, or getting them through unscrupulous means, Google will find out. And rather than reward you with a good ranking, they’ll actually penalize you!
Now we return to the online directory. An online directory can be a great source for small business owners to get good, authoritative links, ones that will serve them well in terms of Google search rankings! However, having a link in a shady or less-than-reputable directory can ultimately do more harm than good. So are online directories useful for small business owners? Yes, but only when the directory itself is sound.
The question, then, is how a small business can determine whether a particular directory is a high-quality one or not. This is not as tricky or as daunting as it sounds. If the directory is relevant to your business, that’s a good start. If the directory contains a number of industry-related sites that you know and recognize, that’s also a good sign. If going through the directory reveals there to be spam or sites that are obviously low-quality, it’s probably a directory best avoided.
The bottom line is that a listing in a reputable directory can do wonders for your small business’ online profile. A directory is not the be-all and end-all of anyone’s online publicity campaign, yet it’s far from irrelevant, either.
This guest post was contributed by Petter Martinsen of Telefonkatalogen. The company is based in Norway, and uses an array of services and features to help their clients improve their online presence. For more information, visit them at Telefonkatalogenblog.com.