More and more small businesses today are using online directories to their benefit. If you run a small business, then odds are you spend a great deal of your time thinking about your marketing plan. Online directories can be a great addition to your current small business marketing strategy. Online directories can help your small business expand its website traffic, increase the likelihood that your website will be found by interested viewers and increase your bottom line. If you haven’t taken a look at online directories or try to understand how your small business could use them to increase its market presence – then now is the time to start!

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What Are Online Directories?

There are many different types of online directories available on the Internet. Each of these online directories serves a specific purpose and can be used by your small business in specific ways. An online directory is a website submission service that allows your small business’s website to be added to a specific category where it can be searched for by interested viewers. These searchable online directories allow their viewers to search for websites and businesses that they find interesting or that they want to learn more about. Listing your small business on an online directory increases your website’s visibility on the web and helps to create inbound links to your business’s website. Online directories make it easy for people to find what they are looking for. These directories can be accessed from just about anywhere that has an internet connection. This means that people could find your business’s website from their home, office or even while traveling.

Every website that is submitted to an online directory is placed in a specific category. These categories can range in how they are organized. Some are organized by business-related categories, some are organized according to personal preferences and others are organized by subject. Each category consists of several websites relating to a specific topic. Each website listing features the name of the website, a direct link to the website and a short description of the website. Interested Internet viewers will be able to browse through the various categories in the directory and locate websites like yours that they may be interested in viewing. Essentially, online directories make it easier for random viewers to find your business’s website.

How Do Online Directories Work?

The concept of online directories is actually a pretty simple one. Online directories are very similar to the Yellow Pages in the real world, only these listings are only online. (Actually Yellow Pages.com is now an online directory as well) A directory is just a listing place for a number of websites. Any type of website could be listed in an online directory. Some online directories are huge and cover every topic that someone could create a website for, while others are very small and specific to a specific niche.

Let’s use an example. Say you are a model airplane enthusiast and you want to find some websites that cater to your specific interest. You could look through a huge online directory such as Yahoo’s online website directory and find several dozen websites that are related to model airplanes. Or you could look for an online directory that is niche-specific, which means that the entire online directory would be based on hobbies such as model airplanes. With a niche-specific directory you may find even more websites that are based on your specific interest than what you could find on the larger directories.

Since online directories are organized by categories, finding websites that relate to a specific interest such as model airplanes is very easy. You could find information and websites about model airplanes in your local region too if you use a regional-specific online directory. So if you live in Phoenix you could find websites that relate to both model airplanes and the Phoenix area. Online directories will direct you to websites that you want to find. All you have to do is perform a search in the online directory for a specific topic or browse through the various categories until you find the type of websites you are looking for. When you perform a search you will be given a list of all of the websites that relate to your search term. You will be presented with a number of links to these websites and each link will have a short description of what you are likely to find on the website. You can read the descriptions and choose to click on the website that best suits you.

There are many different types of websites that you could find under a specific topic as well. For example, if you search several online directories for information relating to model airplanes you may find websites that are about building model airplanes, flying model airplanes, creating historically accurate model planes, tips and instructions about how to fly model planes, websites that sell model airplanes and charters and associations that you could join regarding model airplanes. These are just a few of the examples you could find using an online directory. There are simply too many topics to list them all here.

You can see how anyone can use an online directory to find websites relating to things that interest them. As a small business owner you can see how people who could be potential customers of yours are using online directories too. Now that you understand how online directories work it is time to see how they can work for your business.

How Do Online Directories Benefit Small Businesses?

There are many benefits associated with listing your small business in an online directory. The more online directories you can use to list your business the more benefits you will reap. Here are some of the benefits of using online directories:

Exposure

Exposure is important for all business marketing strategies. After all, the more people who are exposed to your business the more people are likely to utilize your business’s services. If online viewers aren’t able to see your website or even know that it exists, then they probably aren’t going to purchase your products or services. Listing your business’s website in online directories helps your website to gain exposure. Thousands of people use online directories everyday to find things they are interested in. These are people who are actively searching for websites that are directly related to your products or services. They are already looking- all you have to do is make it easy for them to find you. Online directories will expose your business to more online viewers, which could increase traffic to your website.

Increased Traffic

There are several ways that online directories can help you increase the amount of traffic your website receives. For starters, the more exposure your website has the more people are likely to visit it. But online directories offer more than just exposure from potential viewers. They also offer exposure to the various major search engine crawlers like Google and Yahoo. This increases the chances that your website will appear on major search engine results pages or SERPs, which will allow more people to see the website when they perform a regular search. Both search engine optimization exposure and exposure to more people who are searching for your website could result in increased traffic to your small business’s website.

Cheap Advertising

As a small business owner you already understand the importance of advertising. You know that it helps customers to find your business and recognize your name and brand. You probably have little room in your budget for more advertising right this moment. That is one of the major benefits of listing your business’s website in an online directory. Online directories are inexpensive to join and they offer a lot of exposure for the price. Some online directories will allow you to list your business for free, while others will charge a minimal fee. Either way, you are getting a lot of exposure for less money than you would spend on a TV or radio advertisement.

Professional Appearance

You want everything about your business to look professional in the eyes of your customers. A professional appearance enhances your status and makes customers more likely to patronize your business. Online directories help you to look like a professional business. When an online consumer sees your business listing in an online directory they will consider your business to be an authority on the subject and a professional place to do business. Unlike a search that is performed on a major search engine like Google, where there is little difference between the legitimate websites relating to a topic and the less than useful websites, online directories are mostly legitimate websites.  Online consumers are more likely to trust what they see on online directories.

SEO Benefits

Online directories offer several search engine optimization or SEO benefits as well. Firstly, these online directories offer you more inbound links. When an online viewer sees your website link in an online directory, they will be able to click on it and be instantly re-directed to your website. This is a great way to increase traffic. It is a great way to improve your status in the eyes of search engine crawlers too. The more backlinks that a search engine crawler can find, the more relevant they will rank your website. This is especially true of authoritative online directories. Being linked to a major online directory, such as Google Places, will give your website more relevancy in the eyes of Google’s search engine crawlers. This will result in a higher page ranking on the SERP. As you know, a higher search engine result page rank you get, the more people are going to click on your website link.

Increased Revenue

When more people are able to find your website it increases the chances that they will visit your website. When people visit your website they are more likely to purchase your goods or services. This means that online directories can help you increase your revenue stream. Online directories are good for your bottom line.

Increased Brand Recognition and Customer Interaction

When an online viewer locates your website though an online directory, they are more likely to remember your business’s name and directly interact with it. Online directories can help your business stand out to customers as well. Overall, listing your small business in an online directory will help you to create a more comprehensive and effective online presence.

Listing your small business’s website with several online directories will help more people find your website, whether they are specifically searching for it or if they are just browsing around. In addition to gaining exposure, online directories will provide major SEO benefits, which will help your website get found by search engines. Increased exposure and higher search engine rankings will result in more traffic to your website, which will result in higher revenue.

There are many different types of online directories, from large global directories to small, niche and location-specific ones. Some examples of other types of online directories can include reciprocal link directories, free directories, paid directories, Business 2 Business directories, theme-related directories, small business directories and many, many more.