Directory Listings – The “Phone Book” of Our Digital Age

“Siri, what is the number for Rob’s Repair?” That’s the sound of someone ‘looking up a business’ in the world we live in today. For many folks, the days of letting “your fingers do the walking” through the paper yellow pages to find a phone number are a thing of the past.

Whether using Apple’s Siri voice-activated search assistant, typing in a Google search bar from the desktop computer, or doing a speech-to-text search on a digital tablet, a rapidly growing majority of today’s consumers have one thought when it’s time to look for a business or a phone number…online search.

Directory Listing Sites

Consider these statistics for how people look for information:

  • Nearly 50% of people are now using voice search when researching products.
  • There are 40-60 billion searches on Google in the US each month.
  • Over 50% of online searches are done on a mobile device. Mobile searches are more likely to have local intent.

How does that affect your business? In many ways. But today we want to explore just one: the importance of understanding and managing your Online Directory Listing.

So What is an Online Directory Listing Anyway?

In short, a directory listing is a content area or an information page that serves as an online version of a phone book by listing crucial information about a business.

There are literally hundreds of services that provide these pages on the web including Yelp, Houzz, Angie’s List, and TripAdvisor. Each one lists your business’s NAPW (Name, Address, Phone number, Website), as well as your business hours and reviews that previous customers have written. Google My Business is considered the most important player in the world of directory listings. It is a listing page provided by Google that displays a placard of information about a business.

GMB listing
Here you can see business directory listings on the left and a Google My Business listing on the right.

10 Things You Should Know about Business Listings

1. Online directory listings improve your visibility on the web.
People searching for you or for the business category you serve can find you much easier.

2. Well-managed online directory listings help to boost your website search engine rankings.
If you have claimed your Google My Business listing — congratulations! You’ve just begun. Your business should also be listed and have consistent information among other key directory listing players. These act as “referrals” or “testimonials” to search engines. If you are listed in high quality directories, it tells search engines that you are a credible business.

3. You can take action to grow your listings.
Aggregators are services that search the internet for information and push that information out to directory listing services. When we supply your information to these aggregators, they not only provide the correct information to hundreds of other sites, but also help create new ones.

By submitting this client’s information to aggregators, we have dramatically increased their number of listings.

4. You need to carefully monitor your reviews.
Most directory listing services include an area for a visitor to review your company. Customers regularly leave reviews on these sites. The amount of reviews left on Google has nearly doubled and tripled over the past years. Some reviews are good. Some are bad. And some are just plain spam. You need to actively respond to reviews, particularly negative reviews. This shows that you care about your customer’s feedback. In fact, 30% of consumers say they positively judge businesses that publicly respond to reviews.

5. Left unmanaged, directory listing information tends to degrade as it spreads across the web.
We all like the idea of “once and done.” But that isn’t the nature of this animal. Just as you need to maintain your car or house, directory listings need to be constantly monitored and managed to keep your listing information relevant and up-to-date.

6. Inconsistent information confuses shoppers and search engines.
If your information shows up differently on various directory listings, you lose credibility with the searcher. After all, which of the three locations that show up should they visit? Most will search for another option with reliable information. In addition, search engines rank businesses higher if they are sure about the businesses’ information. Make sure your information is consistent across the web.

7. If you don’t manage your Google listing, Google will “manage” it for you.
If a Google My Business listing is not claimed, Google takes it upon itself to “manage” the listing for you, which can often have disastrous results. Google picks up images from around the web and Google users freely supply their own information that may or may not be correct. The following poor business learned the hard way not to let Google choose their photos.

Don't Let Google Manage Your Listing

8. Quality directory listings take time to populate and establish a trusted web presence.
Don’t believe someone who promises instant results. Just like planting flowers, directory listings can take a bit of time from when you “plant the seed” until the “blooms” appear.

9. Directory listing management packages are not created equal.
Directory Listing Services is a broad term. Some companies offer free directory listing. This usually means they will add your name, address and a couple other small bits of information to a single directory service. Others offer great-sounding terms but are vague in what deliverables you can expect from their packages. Get a concise list of deliverables from your service provider and talk to someone that is knowledgeable to ensure that what you are buying is effective for your needs.

10. You don’t need a website to benefit from directory listings.
No website? No problem. While it is true that a website does optimize your listing results, directory listing services still greatly benefit your business even without one. A search that includes a business category or name and a location will usually list several directory listing results on the first page of Google. (e.g. “Italian restaurants in Washington D.C.”) If you aren’t ready for a full-scale website but wish to optimize your online presence further, we offer a simple landing page in one of our Online Directory Listing packages.

Any way you stack it, directory listing services are an important baseline investment for businesses today.

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About the Author: Christopher Sedlak is the senior online marketer at Rosewood Marketing. He welcomes your SEO questions and comments at