Google is the ultimate business directory. In fact, most people do not realise that Google started as a directory site. There are two algorithms that they use to determine a user’s search intent. The first is a question-and-answer algorithm that determines whether or not the user is searching for an answer to a question, or looking for a specific business or website. The second algorithm is for the local business directory. In the early days, before most small businesses had websites, search engines scoured the web for mentions of, and information pertaining to, local businesses to verify if they were real or not. The more evidence search engines had for a business listing through other directories, the more likely they were to list that business in their own directory.
The directory algorithm continues to work today and is responsible for helping local businesses show up in local search results. Interestingly, this second algorithm functions almost exactly as it did in the beginning, and lends more importance to local businesses who list themselves directly in the search engine (i.e. Google My Business), as well as who feature prominently in other directories across the internet (i.e. Yelp, YP, LocalSearch, etc). Therefore, to rank well in local search it is of the utmost importance to list your business in as many local directories as possible. How many are there? Dozens, and it takes hours upon hours to create them all!
Luckily for local businesses, there are a few companies who have automated the process of publishing business listings on directory sites. Where local companies once laboured endlessly to accomplish this task, new software applications do all the work for you in minutes. Where can I find these applications, you ask? We’ve gone ahead and compiled a short list for you ahead of time with brief pros and cons for each.
Here are five online tools to boost your local SEO:
Yext is the big name in directory listing automation. They are owned by Yahoo and made headlines last year for their new platform. The Yext platform helps local businesses list themselves on more than 70 local directory websites, and it is fully automated.
- Pros: Easy to use; highly reputable; good customer service; and a fair price.
- Cons: yearly subscription costs are paid upfront: $500 one-time payment, with auto-renewal.
YP.com is — you guessed it — the Yellow Pages. They are the original directory for businesses and phone numbers and have done a good job of staying relevant online. Rather than build their own directory listing automation software, they white-labelled Yext. It’s the same platform with one difference: a monthly subscription. The YP Presence Dashboard, as it’s called, is an easy-to-use application that lists your business on over 70 directory sites. YP has also recently expanded their offering to include a CRM, business listing tools, and payment system for small businesses, all of which are powerful tools for local businesses who want to do more online. Unfortunately, YP.com has had a few issues in regards to customer complaints because of some of their more aggressive business practices. These will not be an issue for most users, but it is something to keep in mind before signing a contract with them.
- Pros: same easy-to-use Yext platform; additional tools such as CRM, payments, among others; monthly cost ($59/month).
- Cons: Poor customer service; complicated contracts that are very hard to get out of.
MOZ is a popular platform for SEO that offers users the ability to track and grow their search engine rankings. They are most famous for the Domain Authority rank and Open Site Explorer. More recently, the MOZ team have made a concerted effort to offer better tools for local search. Part of this is the implementation of their MOZ local service, which is essentially a directory automation platform. For users already using MOZ to track their website’s progress, this is a great, affordable, and convenient tool. Unfortunately, their listing automation platform doesn’t have the same ubiquity as Yext.
- Pros: great for current MOZ users; easy automation; affordable.
- Cons: not as thorough a tool as Yext.
Employing one of these tools to list your business in multiple areas online is an excellent way to boost your local SEO. These platforms save you time and money by automatic a laborious process and can get your business more visibility in less time. Our team conducted a test of the Yext system through YP.com and found that the automated listing system through their YP Presence Dashboard was highly effective for ranking our test site, bendpersonaltrainers.com, on our target local keywords within 60 days. To see the results of our test, CLICK HERE to download our case study. Getting your business listings up and running works and will help you stay ahead of your competition.
Haven’t started your business quite yet? Check out our article on questions you should ask yourself before you start a business.