Business directories have been around a long time; the first Canadian directory was published in Quebec in 1791. As Archives Canada says:
“The directory was … intended to facilitate communication between buyer and seller, to be a tool for advertising and marketing within a particular community and also to publicize that community and its advantages to a broader audience.”
Online business directories
Business directories may have gone online these days, but that intent is much the same. People still need to find a business, and whilst they may Google for the information rather than thumb through a book, the majority of results shown on their smartphone or tablet come from online business directories.
The Chamber of Commerce Business Directory
One of the major benefits of your Chamber of Commerce membership is inclusion in our online Business Directory. It’s free to all current members, and you can update it anytime with your latest details. As it’s the official Chamber of Commerce directory, it carries authority and ranks well in search results. You can check your listing here.
Canadian Business Directories online
There are plenty of other online business directories out there looking for your company details (and your dollars). However, you don’t need to spend a single cent to get listed; many directories offer basic listings for free.
One caveat with free directory sites: quality. Check that the directory site looks professional, works well, and would appeal to your target audience. Do a couple of searches in Google to see where the directory’s listing ranks for popular search terms in your marketplace. Also, be mindful that most directories will try and ‘upsell’ you to a more prominent profile, more space, more images, etc. Upgrade if you wish, but the basic free listing will usually be just fine until you find the directories used most by your potential customers.
Google My Business (GMB)
This is THE most important business directory for local businesses, as it quite literally puts your business on the map. GMB listings are used extensively in local mobile search results, such as “find a coffee shop near me”. Your GMB listing should therefore always include your opening hours, as otherwise it won’t necessarily show in the results. Encourage your customers to leave (good) reviews on GMB too, as your star rating shows on your listing.
Yellow Pages Canada
The major advantage of Yellow Pages is the ability to be found in broad-based searches such as “auto repairs near Woodstock”. Yellow Pages offer a free basic listing, with substantial paid-for options including Priority Placement and Printed Advertising.
Bing may not be as popular a search engine as Google, but its maps are used in a lot of devices. One very good reason to get your business listed for free.
One of the big players in online directories, and one of the most popular recommendation and review websites in Canada. Yelp does focus mainly on destination businesses like restaurants and venues, but also covers a wide range of local services. The main advantage is that you get your own business page, not just a listing, where customers can leave reviews. See who is listed in Woodstock here!
You may not consider Facebook to be a directory, but there is a growing trend for users doing basic research on local businesses using the social media channel. It’s important to check if your business already has a page. As Facebook says:
“A Page may exist for your business even if someone from your business didn’t create it. For example, when someone checks into a place that doesn’t have a Page, an unmanaged Page is created to represent the location.”
You can set up or claim a Company Page in Facebook for free so long as you as a person have a Facebook account. (Company Pages must always ‘belong’ to a real person.)
Not one of the biggest or best known, but well established and easy to use. As their website says: “700,000 people are making more than 126,000 enquiries to businesses on Hotfrog every month.” Your business could be one of them.
When customers who are on Foursquare visit your business, their mobile app invites them to ‘check-in”. This is a neat way to spread the word about your business without any effort. You will need to monitor any reviews, of course, and respond to them too. The first step is to claim your business listing.
Getting your NAPS right
NAP simply stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. It’s the most basic form of company information for your business, and it’s very important that it is exactly the same in every single listing you have, including your own website. So, be very careful when typing in details: a listing for “Jon’s Auto Shop” and “Jons Autoshop” will not be considered the same business, even if every other detail matches up.
This is because many directories cross-reference details with one another. Google checks with Yellow Pages, for example, and Facebook checks with lots of others. If details don’t match up, often the directories’ software will make a ‘best guess’ as to the correct listing, and you can end up with multiple versions of your company listed.
Ask your networking group
Networking events are a good opportunity to ask where other businesses list themselves, and how effective it is. The ‘search ecosystem” (as its known) is constantly changing, so it always helps to have insight from fellow business owners. Why not ask at your next “Business After Five” event here at the Chamber!