January 13, 2018
Most search engine marketers will tell you that the two most important factors for gaining valuable "free" or organic listings in search engines such as google are: unique and value-added content, and links or references from other quality websites. (Here's a link to a post about search engine marketing.)
Developing valuable content (text, pictures, video) can be a time-consuming and daunting task, but it's a task that is within your control. Put the effort and time into the content, and within weeks or months, you will have a unique website that (hopefully) offers valuable and helpful information to visitors.
But what about links or references from other sites? That one's a lot more challenging.
I know from experience that posting unique content (articles, blog posts, product information) will, over time, be linked to from other sites, but this can take a long, long, long, time. Sure, you might get lucky and have an article or blog post go viral, gaining a ton of links quickly, but most content is seldom linked to, even if it's amazing.
So what is truly (or somewhat) in your control for being linked to or referenced by other sites?
I've found only two methods that work.
1) Asking for links from other sites.People you know and people you don't. I used to work on this strategy a lot. Currently, not so much. First of all, search engines such as Google really frown on sites that try to do things that manipulate search results, especially when they're not "natural." Asking people for links is not only a pain, but also seems to be a little sketchy. Sure, if you have a web design company and list your link at the bottom of web sites you design, that's different. It's an industry that kind of gets a bonus for web links from other sites. But for the rest of us, asking for links is time-consuming, and while maybe still effective, isn't my favorite way to do it.
2) Submitting to local and regional directories.This is where directories come in. Directories are basically huge listings of businesses on one site that describes the business and provide a link to the company's website. Although I've read that directory listings don't receive much search engine value, I've tried to list our website in as many directories as possible, especially industry specific and local web directories.
Examples of industry specific directories (for Lets Go Banners) includes sign company directories, marketing directories, and print industry directories. I honestly believe these are of value because they're specific to our industry.
Local web directories are also directories we want to be listed in. Often times cities or areas near your company have business directories to help promote local business. First, web searchers actually find these directories when conducting local searches, which gives you an opportunity to receive leads or business. Second, these directories are usually very high quality (human edited, very selective,) so I believe they carry great value as a referencing website which can help your search rankings.
So how much does it cost to get into a high-quality directory? From my experience, it ranges from $0 to $200 for a permanent listing. And some directories charge an annual fee. $10 to $20 per listing is an average fee; however, some of the best directories (i.e. local business directories) are usually free, which is always nice!
Time for listing to be added
The amount of time it takes for your directory submission to be approved and added, and then to finally show-up in the directory varies. I've found that most high-quality directories, especially if you pay a nominal fee, usually review and post your listing within a week. But some directories can take much longer, or may never post your listing.
How To Find
So how do you find directories? Just Google "(Your industry) + business directories." You'll quickly find industry specific directories that might be valuable to pursue. And for local directories, just Google "(Your city, region, state, etc) + business directories." Here you'll find some of the most popular local directories (such as BBB, Chamber Of Commerce, etc.)
How To Get Listed
Most directories have an online form (and if appropriate, payment form) to be considered for listing. Just fill-out the form and that's it. The directories usually want information such as contact, web address, page title, key words, and a detailed company description. After you fill out the form, you'll usually receive a confirmation and information about how long it should take for review and for your listing to be "live."
Some (especially local) business directories require an email or phone call. I usually send an email asking about how my company might be considered for inclusion in their directory. But if you're really in the local area, these directories are usually more than willing to include your business. After all,that's why they're there. To help promote local commerce.
Some people may advise against getting directory listings, but I think it's a totally legitimate practice. For eons, business have gained listings in old-school directories such as phone books, so why would this be considered negative? As long as the directories are quality (not spammy,) it's basically a way to advertise your business.
Thank you for reading!
Lets Go Banners
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