How To Use Relevant, Targeted Directories For Link Building

There’s no question people get most of their information online these days.

But, did you know people are also searching for local businesses just as much as they look up answers for what ails them?

A BrightLocal consumer survey found that 99% of consumers used the internet to look up a local business in the last year.

78% look up local businesses at least once a week or more.

Screenshot from BrightLocal, September 2022

What does this tell you?

The internet is the phone book of the 21st century. Remember that big, thick doorstopper of a book that housed every number and address in your local area?

And if you’re not in the phone book, you’re not going to get found.

It goes without saying:

You want your business to be found online.

That means you must get your contact details in an online directory – the internet equivalent of the phone book.

Even if you’re not SEO savvy, or if building links isn’t in your wheelhouse, don’t worry…

There’s 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 draw 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.

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When a person uses an online directory, they want to locate a business that is relevant to their needs – to what they’re shopping for at that very moment.

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

By having your business listed in a directory, you’re increasing your site’s visibility, which increases the chances of sales, too.

Targeted And Relevant Reach sampleScreenshot from business.foursquare.com, September 2022

2. Trusted Links

Boosting your site’s SEO and rankings is a nice byproduct of having your business listed in an online directory.

If you are listed in a popular directory that many users trust when looking for businesses, and your listing is relevant to users’ needs, directories can benefit your SEO.

This can mean improved visibility and reach. You might even see some indirect benefits that help your SEO and site rankings.

Online directories are trusted sources and are typically high-ranking sites themselves.Screenshot from bingplaces.com, September 2022
Online directories are trusted sources and are typically high-ranking sites themselves.Screenshot from Bing search, September 2022

3. Cost-Effectiveness

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, do charge a listing fee.

It may be worth adding your business information to a paid directory. But be careful.

Paying for links is against Google’s guidelines, so don’t pay for listings if you’re looking for dofollow links.

Even if a paid listing provides a dofollow link, chances are good you’re throwing your money away.

It may be worth adding your business information to a paid directoryScreenshot from Yelp.com, September 2022

3 Ways To Find The Right Directory For Your Business

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

Choosing the directory – or directories – that you want to be listed on isn’t like throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks.

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

Here are a few things to consider when you’re developing your strategy:

1. Relevance

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

Are you a travel agency in Texas that specializes in road trips within the continental U.S.?

Then, don’t add your business to a directory for international travel sites.

It isn’t relevant, you won’t reach your target audience, and even if someone clicks on your link, they’ll only be frustrated to find 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, that can hurt SEO!

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

2. Domain Authority

When you’re deciding between online directories, consider domain authority.

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

You can check whether you’re listing your business on a trusted, well-established directory by checking the authority using a tool like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Moz. They all have slightly different scores and methods of scoring.

It’s critical to remember that all “authority” metrics are third-party. Google does not have any kind of official authority metric for domains. High authority signals generally mean that the tool you’re using considers the domain to display all the right, “good” signals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the domain holds better SEO value for you than others.

The DA score for a directory for bakeriesScreenshot from Semrush, September 2022

3. The Right Features

Some online directories go into more detail than others, and it’s up to you to decide whether you want a simple NAP+W listing (name, address, phone, and web URL) or a listing that features photos, reviews, and ratings.

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

By listing your business on a directory with added features, you’ll encourage your customers to provide feedback and ratings as well, which is helpful to boost site authority and SEO.

Get The Most Out Of Online Directories: Stay Consistent

If you take advantage of multiple business directories, stay consistent with your information and updates across all of your listings.

Ensure every bit of your info, down to the last detail, is accurate, on-brand, and current.

Consistency is necessary across your entire web presence, including your directory listings, if you want to strengthen your SEO and build authority.

Your reputation will be impacted if people searching for a business like yours encounter errors and inconsistencies in seemingly small details like your hours of operation, your website URL, or your email address.

Bottom line: Don’t turn people away before they have a chance to interact with your brand or visit your brick-and-mortar.

If you do it right, listing your business on a relevant online directory is one of the best ways to build high-quality links back to your site, boost your presence, and bring more customers to both your virtual and real-life doorsteps.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal