Top Web Directories for Local Businesses

You’ll get a big boost for your business’s visibility if you are listed in a few key places on the web. You don’t even need a website yet. You can get found now.

I know, there are zillions of options for online business listings, with a wide range of prices. Many good ones are free but which ones are worth your time?

Here’s my cheat sheet for you, based on my years of real-life experience with many types of local businesses.

I’m giving you the ones that are known for making a difference for local businesses, for one or both of these reasons:

  • Helping your website’s search engine rank (because getting more links to your website is golden for boosting your ranks).
  • Sending direct referrals to you.

If you don’t yet have a website, I recommend getting a free Google profile or LinkedIn profile and link all your listings to that profile until your website is ready. For clarity, I do think all businesses need a good website but don’t let not having one yet be an excuse for not going after new business now.

First, Get Listed in All the Right Places

This checklist of tasks is listed in priority order:

  1. First and foremost, get in Google’s free local business directory. Back up the bus and do it right now. If you do nothing else, do this. I get multiple inquiries every month as a result of my Google business listing. (You have to make it a good listing to get results, so be sure to see the tips below to optimize your listing.)
  2. Now do a search in Google for the most likely thing people would search for when needing your type of business. For example, if you are a summer camp owner, search “summer camps.” Then look for the first camp directory in the top 10 Google results. That directory is worth paying money to get listed in. In most cases, if you get one new client (and you probably will), it will pay for itself.
  3. Get listed in a few of these other popular and free local business directories. Some directories are more popular in certain areas. For instance, Yelp is essential in big cities.
  4. Find and join the most popular local trade organization if it includes a link on their website. As a coach, I joined the Western Mass Coaches Alliance and have gotten multiple good referrals from that web listing.
  5. Find a top trade-specific directory or two to join. For example, I’ve known health professionals who have boosted their Google ranks after getting listings in either The Health Professionals Directory. (You can usually find this by doing step 2 above.)
  6. If you have a blog for your business, submit your blog to these top blog directories. (When my blog got approved by AllTop, which takes time, it definitely boosted my blog traffic.)

Second, Optimize Your Listings with Ratings and Reviews

One of the main reasons some businesses show up higher in the free listings is because they have more positive ratings and reviews. It’s OK to ask your past and present clients to review you there. They are often happy to help. You can’t edit their reviews so it’s all legit.

There are other ways to optimize your listings, such as using good keywords in your business description, and adding images. Feel free to leave questions in the comments box below.

See also: Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles To Get Found

What If I Get a Bad Review?

Some people ask whether to worry about getting bad reviews in these directories where anyone can leave a review. If you’re spending time worrying about that, you might need to worry more about giving better service in the first place.

If someone reviews your business unfairly, you can report it to the directory publisher and they will listen. If it is a fair review, then respond to the person and make it right.

Consumers rule in today’s social media world, and that’s a good thing because good service wins! Embrace it. Work with the tide not against it.

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  • careymsd

    Val, this is a great list that I think many people can benefit from. I know it was a while in the making. Kudos to you!

    • Thanks Carey! And thanks for telling your website clients about the list. I think they'll be glad for the list.

  • Thanks for a great post. This will be very helpful to me as I am just beginning to work w/small businesses, and would really like to focus their resources where they can get the best efficiency.

  • Krisann Robles

    There is a brand new one specifically for local businesses called RelyLocal.com. Please check it out and consider adding if you update or revise your list. :o)

    Blessings,
    Krisann Robles
    RelyLocal-Roswell, NM

    • Hi Krisann, Thanks for telling me about your directory. However, only the ones with proven track records are on my official list. It may take a while before a new one rises to that level. Best wishes.

  • Eric Letendre

    Great post. A lot of businesses spend time, money and effort on developing the website and little time thinking about how to promote it. This article provides great advice on getting found on the web. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Eric. You're right that people put far more effort into creating the site and don't realize what's involved in getting the site found. If local businesses follow these steps, they will be way ahead of the game.

  • Judith Schenck

    Outstanding. Thanks. Can I tweet this link?

    • Hi Judith, by all means, tweet it, facebook it, re-post it on your own blog, whatever works for you. Thanks!

      There's a little “Share/Save” widget just below the post (above comments) that makes social sharing and emailing easy to do.

  • Marcia Belser

    It seems odd that RelyLocal didn't make the list of local directories for local businesses. I know they are still pretty new, but they are pretty popular in some communities – especially for locally owned businesses (since they only feature local companies). Most all of the others are completely filled/dominated by national companies and/or chains. (Yes, the local businesses are there as well, but they can't afford to compete with the big ads that the big boys have, etc…) Just a thought.

    Though, Yelp has been great – I too love the iPhone app. (Though, the only problem, as with RelyLocal, they aren't in every city yet…)

    • Thanks for adding your suggestion. I could only speak from my own experience. Have you gotten results with RelyLocal?

  • Nice list of local web dirs thank