Before we start, what exactly is a business directory? We all know that a general web directory is a collection of websites on the Internet and they are categorized into different “sections" for easier reference. Think of a general web directory as a portal of sorts, designed to help users find websites related to a topic much “easier" than a search engine. A business directory is a niche directory, catering to the business community and usually used by visitors to search for a certain product or service or even a company or business. A business directory is a collection of commerical websites and are usually arranged in some sort of order to make it easier for users to search or to browse.
However, due to the growing importance of Search Engines and the current hype on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a lot of businesses failed to realize that business directories can be important as well. They are important to both Search Engine Optimization and by attracting direct traffic. And in certain cases, having their business site listed in such a directory can actually drive more traffic than from Search Engines.
Below are some benefits for a business to get listed into business directories.
1. Submitting to directories will help improve your Search Engine rankings and increase Search Engine visibility for your site. A good business directory should be crawled and reindexed very frequently by Search Engines. Thus Search Engines indexing the business directory will discover your link and this will increase the chances of Search Engines indexing your site as well. This is very especially benefital for new websites trying to “coax" Search Engines into indexing their sites completely. More links means more crawls which then Search Engines can pick up your business site's contents for indexing.
With the proper anchor text or title, you can improve your site's rankings with different keywords and keyphrases if your site gets listed on enough directories. This is also dependent on the quality of those directories. Directories are also good for passing PageRank to their listings. Again, if your site is listed in enough directories, you can see your PageRank increase, sometimes significantly. There is a general perception that sites with a high PageRank are authority (or trusted) sites. If it helps to build up confidence of your (potential)customers, then it is good for you and your business.
Some business directories allow you to deeplink too, you can get the additional benefit by linking to your product/services page or to some other page which you would like Search Engines to crawl more often. If that page is crawled often, the new content added will be indexed faster.
2. Business Directories can be a good source of targeted traffic. Unlike most general directories which accepts any and all websites, business directories only accepts commerical and business related sites. Business directories is a good source of information for users searching for a particular product or service, thus it is highly targeted. Getting listed in the correct categories can help drive these traffic to your site. Think of this as sort of like advertising on an online Yellow Pages. Most business directories have advertising banners, featured links and so on to help increase your business visibility.
Actually, if your business's keywords or keyphrase is extremely competitive, it would be even more prudent for you to get listed into business directories. Due to the fact that your site may not rank high in Search Engines, it is possible that you will get very little traffic from Search Engines. However, you could still get some traffic from business directories because these directories generally treat all sites equally. This of course preludes featured listings, sponsored links and so on.
3. Get listed for Prestige! Perhaps this should be called brag value? But no matter what it is called, if your site is listed in big name business directories, it gives your business and it's brand name an added bonus when dealing with customers. And it also gives your business legitimacy. A lot of people put their trust on names, so if you are somehow related to a trusted name, let's say Yahoo! or MSN, then you have just gained a whole lot of trust among your potential customers as well as when dealing with your existing customers.
If your business is mainly dealing online, like a online shopping mall, then this kind of trust is doubly important. If you were to check up on the Industrial Guides, you will realize that there are some business listings there which only state their name, nothing else, which means no contact number and no address. The reason for this is that getting on these guides tells their customers that they are a legitimate business. That's the only thing they want to inform their customers, that they are an legitimate business.
Ok, I hope that I have convinced you enough for you to understand that Business Directories are equally important for your business. I think that even Search Engines take into consideration the importance of business directories. Both MSN and Yahoo! have their own business directory which have some pretty high PageRanks. There are also some other big name business directories out there, like Business.com and they are a force to be reckon with. They do draw a decent amount of traffic to their site and these visitors can be your visitors as well. However, I would recommend you to choose a regional business directory if your business is not international. Nobody wants to search for a service, only to find that it is based somewhere across the globe.
Boon Leong is the admin for Simple Sites . A forum/directory promoting the use of simple layouts & designs to create elegant & stylish sites for the web. He is also the admin of Singapore Tour Travel Agency Listings