Many times we here at Javaleaf are asked our opinion on the effectiveness of online business directories or internet yellow page sites in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. These sites almost always will pop up in a search for a local product or service. I personally like to compare their existence to that of a middleman.
Occasionally there is a time and a place to use a middleman to help you make the most informed decisions in certain situations; however, when it comes to marketing your local business online, the time and place to use a middleman (aka large business directory site) to lead your online program is never.
Large online directories, such as superpages.com, magicyellow, citysearch, and Local.com, are essentially the “middleman” when it comes to getting your company in front of potential clients online. If you are searching for anything from a plumber to a mortgage broker in your area, these directories will pop up on the search engines toting the End All, Be All solution to local results. They then guide the user through their maze of competitor names, addresses, and maps while trying to filter the user to a business that is relevant to what they are looking for.
The argument in favor of these directories usually revolves around the high volume of traffic that they sometimes provide. It’s no real secret, however, that this is all traffic that can easily be landing directly on your site anyway. Fortunately for everyone, Google is all the local directory we will ever need.
By marketing your site correctly, you connect your potential clients directly to your site through their searches on Google. Without a strong web presence, you essentially force your potential clients to leave Google and send them through a maze of listings on these directories, to hopefully land on your site. Cut out the amount of exit opportunities on the path to your lead form by cutting out the middleman!
If you are relying solely on a yellowbook.com or an anywho.com type site to feed traffic to your business, then you are putting your entire web presence in their hands. You are relying on these sites to be your online representatives. Can the small template box they stick your name and address in truly convey your talent, value, and commitment to the client, let alone motivate the user enough to click on your link over the next guy’s? No one knows more about your business than you do, and no other tool is as effective at capturing online traffic as your own website.
Time and time again, even the large professional firms in the neighborhood can fall for the sharp sales pitch and vague promises made by the industry specific directories. For instance, lawyers.com and findlaw.com are just two examples of portals that take users who are searching for attorneys off of Google and into a maze of competing attorney listings. The only difference between those sites and yellowbook.com is that the user won’t see anything but ads and listings for lawyers. Both types of directories, however, are equally effective at frustrating and confusing the user.
Once you have established your site on the search engines, having a presence in local directories is an easy way to supplement your attempt to capture more “online real estate”. If you are in an area where your current online competition is minimal, having a few local directory listings on superpages.com under your web site may help push certain competitor sites off of the results page. In areas such as Wilkes-Barre and Scranton where the current online competition is minimal for certain industries, having a few local directory listings on superpages.com under your web site may help push certain competitor sites off of the results page.
Weekly entertainment guide sites can be used similarly as well since many times they will have a decent page rank or an established organic presence locally. For instance, theweekender.com and the570.com are returned often in Google in our area because of strong Wilkes-Barre SEO content. Take advantage of local guides, but do not rely entirely on them.
Don’t be foolish enough to think that having listings in these “local” directories will be enough to capture local traffic – it’s not. Business directories are simply a redundancy on the path to your website. All that you are doing is opening the doors to your competition to swoop in and steal your internet customers with minimal marketing effort. Get yourself partnered with a professional marketing and design firm that is experienced in local search marketing, specifically local Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and take charge of the traffic that is rightfully yours.