If you are old enough to have been born before the internet, you may well remember huge phone books dropping through your door once or twice a year. These were literally paper copies of a business directory and if you missed the deadline to get your business listed, then you could potentially miss out until the next reprint, which might be a whole other year.
Luckily, things have improved greatly and there are now hundreds, if not thousands, of business directories online. You can add your business to any online directory and most of them are free. You can also instantly update your business information if anything changes, without needing to wait for the next print run.
But why do business directories matter so much when it comes to online visibility? Why should you take the time to list your business in directories?
We’ve got answers to these questions and more in our article on directory listings management for accountants.
What are directory listings?
We talked about the phone book of business listings above, and that’s exactly what a directory listing is. It’s simply a listing of your main business information, including your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number), your opening hours, your website, photos, services, videos, reviews, and more.
If that doesn’t sound particularly interesting and you can’t see why a directory listing will make any difference to your online visibility or your SEO efforts, bear in mind that Google, Bing, LinkedIn, your social media platforms, your Google Business Profile (GBP) and other giant sites are also business directories, along with large sites you’ll have heard of, such as Yelp, Angi, and YP.com.
You should also look for local business directories, such as your Chamber of Commerce, and any directories specifically for accountants and CPAs. These directories will help you get found in local search.
Many of these business directories also include an area for customer reviews. In fact, sites such as Yelp are review sites with business information rather than the other way around. Online reviews are vital for your online visibility and for establishing your business reputation online. Customers trust online reviews as much as they’ll trust a review from their friends or their parents, siblings, and other family members.
By getting on directory listings, you’re doing far more than just increasing your visibility online, you’re also building your brand, increasing awareness of your accounting firm, building trust with Google, and building trust with your potential clients.
Benefits of directory listings
Hopefully, you can already start to see some of the benefits of using directory listings for your accounting firm, but here are just a few more:
1. Increased visibility
Every time you fill in a new directory listing, you’re claiming another place on the internet for your accounting or CPA practice. Every listing is another chance for your potential clients to find you.
Many of the larger business directories have been on the internet since the beginning, or very nearly. They have gained trust with the search engines for providing good and helpful content, and established domain authority. What that means is that if anyone searches for an accountant in your local area, some of the listings at the top of the organic search results are likely to be those large business directories. You may find that your own company listing on those directories appears at the top, even above your own website. You will probably also find that your Google Business Profile (GBP) is also listed at the top of the results.
This is good news as you could potentially have multiple listings on the first page or two of Google. Not only that, but if your own SEO efforts aren’t yet paying off and your own site isn’t yet on the first page of Google, you can shortcut that and still have one or more entries on that first page by adding your details to quality business directories.
If you look at the main business directories, they often provide your address, which obviously includes your location, a map to show where your business is located, and sometimes even directions to your door. People can search by location to find what they want and, in fact, these directories are based on location.
The more of these directory listings you have, the more it’s clearly going to have an impact on your local SEO.
In addition, if you claim your Google Business Profile and fully complete and optimize it, you have a good chance of appearing in the Local Map Pack listings at the top of the search results.
Every directory listing gives you another citation online. A citation is simply a mention of your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) on any site that you don’t own. However, the more citations you have, the more credibility you have both with Google and with potential clients as they can trust that you are a genuine company. Citations can also help you gain higher rankings in search engines.
Your GBP and some directories will make you verify your business before they will let you have a listing. This offers real peace of mind to anyone looking to buy from you as they know you’ve been verified.
As we mentioned, many directories include space for people to leave reviews for your company. You may know that people tend to treat online reviews as just as important as family and friend recommendations. Clearly, gathering great reviews across your directory listings can only add to your credibility and your online reputation.
4. Direct contact with your firm
We’ve already mentioned that business directories will include your NAP in their listings. They’re also list your email address, phone number, and your website URL too. Some of them even have a button people can click to either call you or book directly.
For potential clients, that’s incredibly convenient. They don’t even need to click on your website. They can simply get in touch or book right from your directory listing.
How directory listings help you attract more clients
We’ve already explored quite a few benefits of directory listings, but here’s how they can help you get more leads and more clients:
1. Improves your online presence
It’s important to build your online presence consistently and one of the best ways to do that is to add your business to all of the relevant online business directories you can find, including any local directories, like your Chamber of Commerce, and any accountant or CPA-specific directories.
Every time you do that, you build your online presence and give your business yet another chance to be found online.
The way some directories work is to take data from online and from other directories to create a business listing automatically for your company. This is a good thing as if you join one directory, you’re likely to find that you’re suddenly listed on several more, without having to do anything extra.
People are always searching for good accountants and CPAs online, so give them the best possible chance of finding you.
But it’s not just about the people searching for you. It’s also about Google and those precious rankings. The more consistent entries for your business you have online, particularly for your NAP, the more Google can be sure that you are a real, credible business that they can trust and they will raise you in the rankings accordingly.
2. Strengthen your reputation
Directory listings are a trusted source of information and so many people rely on them to find their next accountant or CPA. Make sure you’re verified and listed, and you gain some of that trust and good reputation by being associated with those directories.
You probably know that it takes around seven touchpoints for a potential client to get through the stages of “know, like, and trust,” and feel comfortable getting in touch. With quality directory listings, including your GBP and your social media platforms, your business is likely to come up more than once on the first page of the organic search results, giving you several touchpoints all on the one page. That is a great convincer that you’re the real deal.
You can also enhance your online reputation by consistently requesting reviews and replying to them on your directories and your GBP. People take serious notice of what other people say about your business and a long list of recent great reviews will build your online reputation.
3. Increase brand awareness
Obviously, you’re going to gain a competitive advantage over any of your competitors who don’t appear in the business directory listings, which is certainly a good thing. You can also increase your brand awareness at the same time as if your competitors don’t appear in the listings, your branding will.
You must make sure that you consistently use your branding online, and keep to the same chosen colors, font, and logo. It also helps to write in your brand voice wherever you are adding copy online. People will notice if you aren’t consistent, and it does affect your branding.
4. Grow your local visibility
Directory listings help to increase your local visibility so you become more easily found on Google. We mentioned earlier that so much of what directories include is location-based, which certainly helps, and you can also add local keywords in your copy to add to your local SEO efforts.
Make sure you fill in every part of your directory listings with well-written and keyworded copy, especially your GBP, so you can also aim for the Local Map Pack listings at the top of Google Maps.
5. Get discovered more easily
Many people now use voice search via Alexa, Echo, and similar models and your directory listings can help your business get recommended in voice search. For example, if you add your opening hours on your GBP, anyone can then search for “accountant local area open now” or “CPA near me open now.” If they search during your opening hours, then you will be listed in that search. It’s such a simple thing to do, and it can gain you so much more visibility.
Simplify directory listings management
We’ve talked you through why you should use directory listings and how they can help you gain more potential leads and clients. But you might well be thinking that it’s a lot of work. We can’t tell you that it isn’t. You need to find the right directories, verify and add your business, fill in and optimize your profiles, and that’s just to start. Then you need to keep up with your reviews, including replying to them all, and you need to make sure that all of your directory listings are up to date. Every time you change anything, particularly your NAP, your opening hours, and your services, you need to update all of your directories to suit, which could take hours.
But we do have a solution for that and a solution that will take away a lot of the work of managing your directories.
With Surefire Local’s business intelligence marketing software, you can update over 80 business directories at once, including your Google Business Profile. This ensures consistency for your NAP in particular and makes sure every directory has the correct information.
In addition, you can also request reviews and reply to them right from our dashboard.
Imagine the time saved from not having to log in and out of hundreds of different directories to manage everything.
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