Using Online Directories to Drive Customer Engagement

Using Online Directories to Drive Customer Engagement

Carolyn Baughman Carolyn Baughman

Online directories are often thought of as just “digital yellow pages,” but the truth is they can be so much more than that for your business. When this platform is fully utilized, it can allow potential customers to find, learn more about, and connect with your business.

Plus, these resources are FREE!

It’s a no-brainer to try to maximize these platforms for your business. A 2020 study found that the top five free online businesses directories include:

  1. Google My Business
  2. Apple Maps
  3. LinkedIn Company Directory
  4. Facebook
  5. Bing

To illustrate their potential, we’ll focus on the granddaddy of them all: Google My Business.

Consider these stats:

Over 80% of all searches originate through Google. (Source: Net Marketshare)

Now consider that over 50% of all local business searches on Google convert to that same individual visiting a brick and mortar store within 24 hours.

Take those two numbers, and it's clear that having a strong business directory like Google My Business page can convert to sales. The problem is, many businesses are not taking full advantage of what online directories offer.

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What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (aka: GMB) is a free service designed to help promote local businesses. It is often the first impression that people get of your business so you want to make sure it’s a fully-fleshed out, comprehensive one! Additionally, claiming a GMB account allows you to show up in geographical searches.

For instance, let’s say you’re in a new city, and you search for an “organic dry cleaner near me.” If that small business is smart, they’ll have created a robust GMB page that will share everything the customer needs to know to help inform their decision: map location, photos, reviews, etc.

Claiming a Google My Business account allows you to:

  • Control and share important business information
  • Engage with interested customers and respond to online reviews
  • Collect select photos, videos and content
  • Be highly visible to customers

The more visible you are, the better your ranking will be, and the more people will pay attention to your business! Here we’ll share 3 optimization strategies that can not only improve your SEO, but your connections and visibility to potential customers.

What does a solid Google My Business profile look like?

  1. Share Comprehensive Business Information

When you claim, or update, your Google My Business account, you want to make sure that your information is up-to-date, accurate and detailed. Here you’re just making sure that you’re including the basics (name, address, phone number, website) but you’re also crafting a snappy and info-rich description, as well as identifying a category and any unique attributes about your business.

Think about: what sets you apart from the competition? What amenities or public offerings do you have that are unique? Be sure to include these kinds of details and amenities.

*Note: you’ll want to cross check the GMB info with your website to make sure that it’s exactly the same. Accuracy matters, of course, but not having the same info across the board could negatively affect your business’s search ranking.

Additionally, to continue to improve SEO, it’s important to add keywords to your GMB profile. For example, your business description should include the keywords that you want to rank for.

Now, offer visuals! Not only can you upload a photo for your profile and cover photos, but you can also include a video to tell the story of your business, and what makes it unique. One interesting tidbit: you can use tagged/user-generated photos as your profile photo! Maybe someone shared a photo of a delicious meal they had at your restaurant in the reviews section, use it!

2. Engage with Reviews Page

Reviews are king on GMB. The more positive reviews you have, the better your sales will be. One important thing to remember is that reviews are a two way street. Responding to both good (and sometimes negative) reviews shows that you care about each and every customer.

One trick for getting more reviews? Ask for them! Google My Business gives you a few ways to encourage them so be sure to seek those options out.

Plus reviews are a great way to see what topics are trending with your customers. What aspects of your business are the most talked about? Use that info as fuel for bringing in more customers! Also, you can use any negative reviews to inform what changes need to be made.

3. Share Business Updates

Similar to social media, Google My Business allows you to post updates and news about your business. Maybe you have a new product you’d like to share? Post it! Have a summer sidewalk sale on the horizon? Post it!

Not only are you sharing exciting news that allows more customers to find you, you’re sending positive ranking signals to Google which increases your SEO. Customers can also follow your business profile to get notified of business products and happenings. It’s a win win.

How do you share posts? Simply visit your GMB Dashboard and click on the “Updates” section of your page. A few posting tips:

  • Post regularly. Google likes this, plus some posts will expire every seven days so you’re staying ahead of the game here when you create posts more frequently.
  • Include a Call to Action (CTA) in every post. This adds both action and a sense of urgency to your campaign message.
  • For events that are time sensitive, be sure to include a date range so your post will stay “live” during your specific timeline.
  • Posts are another great place to include keywords for improved SEO!

To recap, creating a strong online directory page (like GMB) means:

  • Ensuring all of your information is accurate, engaging, and includes visuals and videos.
  • Manage your reviews by checking and responding to them regularly.
  • Post relevant updates about our business or exciting happenings to encourage customers.

We hope these three tips about online directories can help you broaden your reach and connect more effectively with your customers.

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