Recently, I was invited to speak at two networking events on the same day, at the same time! While it is next to impossible to physically be present at multiple locations as a person, the online world of business listings gives us this exact opportunity on a platter.
Small business owner, solopreneur or freelancer – think about it! Just like we list our products (or services) on multiple marketplaces to get access to every consumer out there, our business needs maximum exposure online too.
Why should you list your business beyond your website and social media pages?
Online directories or listings provide consumers with a concise, at-a-glance view of different businesses.
People often search by criteria like location, industry or even keywords, so if your profile is robust, a directory appearance can offer you traffic and visibility with minimal effort.
Most times, listing your business is a one time job but it is absolutely worth the work.
You don’t have to be a company or legal entity to list yourself.
Juliet Anderson, a sole proprietor listed her web design services business on several directories and within 3-4 months, saw a clear uptick in inquiries.
By making sure their business is listed in all applicable free online directories, smart businesses can easily be one step ahead and be visible to their consumers.
Whether you sell products or market your service businesses, listing your work across platforms helps you not only gain visibility but also garner feedback, reviews and ultimately better SEO too.
It also allows you to attract new traffic, boost brand recall as well as provide an easy way to contact you.
Should you pay to list your business?
A lot of platforms offer paid or premium plans for their business directories which include perks like featured listings, higher listing or even email promos. But before you choose to spend your promotional dollars, check out your options to assess which platforms to pay on and where free goes a long way.
To drive traffic to your website for free, check out the sites and platforms below. In order to make the most of some of them, keep your information current & updated. Sharing content and value can make all the difference to your business.
Looking for grow your views and traffic? Read 25 smart ways to boost your business visibility
Here are the top 23 free business listing sites you need to be on
There are search engines with robust traffic capabilities, directory listings you might want to claim, hyper-local communities and marketplaces that provide visibility to your business, personal brand, products and events.
Some probably might surprise you as many of us don’t realise that these could help our business for free.
Search Engine listings
Not only do these help your customers discover you locally, but every good review on them can yield traffic for a long time. So make it a point to request reviews from your happy customers on these search engine listings.
Being the world’s most powerful search engine, this is a no-brainer. If you want to be Google searched, then your business should first and foremost claim their free listing on Google.
Claim your free Bing Places for Business listing to tell a better story about your business when it shows up in local results. Even though your business might still show up in search results, your listing enables you to also include helpful information like hours of operation, photos, services offered and more.
The social networking service for neighborhoods, now allows you to claim your free business page. While Nextdoor has over 200,000 active neighborhoods with nearly 90% of all neighborhoods in the US, it’s a great option if your business is hyperlocal – your info reaches other people in your neighborhood or in surrounding neighborhoods. Your business also has the potential for being named the neighborhood favorite where people have made over 17 million recommendations for their favorite local businesses.
Pro tip: You can even post your virtual or in-person business events. Here’s a great guide to what Nextdoor can do for your business.
Now, Quora is more than an Q&A platform. Any legally incorporated organization may sign up for an account, provided that your company has at least three employees and a mature and built-out website to identify you.
Register on Quora.com and create your profile. Organizations on Quora can have a profile and may ask questions, answer, comment and contribute in other ways, just like an individual.
Pro tip: Companies on Quora do not have separate brand pages. Instead, topics may be created about an organization by anyone. Start threads for areas you sell an expertise in, and stay engaged. Be a part of the conversations in your industry.
With more than 25 million active customers, whether you decide to run a Groupon offer or not, you should still claim your business page on Groupon. Easily customize your Groupon page and list your pictures and details to boost your local SEO signals and help your customers discover you.
Posting on Craigslist for the most part is free. While you can technically not create a business page, but you can list your business details periodically (per their rules). Posting an ad and marketing your business on Craigslist can gain you a whole new audience & generate new leads.
Pro tip: Since listings appear by chronology (newest first), you need to post regularly. You can save time by reposting or editing previous ad listings. For the sake of safety, it’s a good idea to avoid sharing your personal contact details, geotags and email on your business postings and instead use a Craigslist-provided proxy email address.
An online service that claims to match providers with professionals in 1100 types of services in hyper local settings. You can register your business for free with a valid phone number.
Pro tip: use their knowledge base and communities for great insights.
A global platform for virtual services, freelancers and creatives, it allows you to create your free personal profile and add your skills. A great place to show your brand and portfolio.
Business networking platforms
A women’s networking and collaboration platform, Maroon Oak
allows entrepreneurs and business owners to share their services and skills. They can also post links to their website and social media in a free profile searchable by location or skill. It also allows women to share their opportunities and seek and offer reviews. Pro Tip: Explore their Tools and Freebies Marketplace for resources to help your business or add your own.
A social network for local business owners, Alignable is a B2B platform to encourage collaboration and communication amongst small business owners and get referrals.
Pro Tip: You can even get referrals from your LinkedIn connections by connecting your profile.
Popular as a review site, it’s great for for home cleaners, restaurants, home services, hotels and automotive services. Having your free business page allows you to respond to your reviews and connect with your customers on Yelp. At the least, check on Yelp to see if your business already exists on it and claim the listing for absolute control on your brand story.
With nearly 60 million consumers searching on them, Yellow Pages is still a great place to list your business for free.
Over 50 million people use Foursquare’s location based personalized recommendations to discover great businesses and share what they love about them. When you claim your business listing, you also get access to their business tools and analytics.
With more than 30 million businesses listed and 15 million visitors a year, a local Chamber of Commerce membership is a wonderful networking resource for small to medium sized business owners. Chamber accreditation also promotes customer trust.
Voice Search & Maps
40% of voice search, an extremely rapidly-growing segment of overall search traffic, is about local requests. For most of the regular and voice search info for queries like ‘near me’ information, the search engine is going to turn to Google My Business listings. So optimize your location on Google maps via Google My Business for Alexa and on Apple maps for Siri to find the services you provide.
While Mapquest is no longer the dominant mapping service, it still gets a lot of local search traffic for people looking for both directions and businesses.
Pro Tip: For voice search, pay careful attention to the phrasing being used in voice search. It may differ from typed search.
Consider event platforms as extra avenues for business visibility by promoting your events.
Millions of people use Eventbrite to search for events. If you have an upcoming in-person or virtual event, you can simultaneously list it for free on Eventbrite. You pay nothing as long as the event you are hosting is free to attend. Great for garnering extra views towards your event and hence your brand.
Pro tip: Since Eventbrite’s listings are visible to everyone, you can use the event link in your emails and social media posts too.
Meetup brings people with a shared interest together. Chances are you already network for your business on Meetup. Make sure you have an optimized profile with your website link for other attendees to know more about you.
Pro Tip: You can also post helpful information on the comments section related to every Meetup. These typically go out as emails to all the other members of the Meetup.
Increasingly it seems that our customers are perennially on social media. It then makes sense to claim as many social media listings that you can for your business.
Google follows multiple links to your website and even better if they are from high domain authority websites like the top social media channels. While there is a high probability that you are at least on some of the social media sites listed below, ensure that you park your links optimally within your profiles.
Facebook allows any entrepreneur or business owner, small or big to create a Business page for free. What’s more, that gives your audience an easy way to interact with you while they are already on the platform.
What a lot of entrepreneurs overlook is including business links on personal profiles too. To maximise your listing, you can add your business website link not just to your About tab in your business page, but also to your profile and cover image descriptions.
If you only have a Facebook profile (personal) and no business page, then make sure you have your url in the description of your workplace. (Image below).
Pinterest is the 2nd largest source of social traffic to websites – only Facebook drives more visitors. Increasingly gaining popularity as a visual social search engine, more and more companies are using Pinterest for Business and investing in creating quality pins on their Pinterest business page, that divert to their website. If a non-visual, car ride sharing, unicorn business Uber can boast over 45k monthly viewers, it’s time you get on board too.
If you’re not already on it, it’s serious time you consider using Instagram to connect with your audience. With 59% of US users being under 30, Instagram is one of the best ways to get to a younger audience and promote your brand story visually.
Claiming a free business account in addition to your personal account, gives you twice the mileage and access to extensive analytics. Even if you don’t have a visually attractive product to sell, careful thought to the content via which you intend to provide value and promote your business goes a long way. Look how Mailchimp, an email service provider & essentially a non-visual brand, rocks their Instagram with thoughtful, creative content.
Youtube is owned by Google, because of which, videos originating from Youtube rank high in searches. But before you start, you definitely need to have a Google Account.
A single creative brand video can lead to amazing success for brands.
This clever video catapulted Dollar shave club into virality and business success.
To reap the full benefits of all that LinkedIn can do for you and your business, consider creating a company/business page on LinkedIn. With more than half a billion users on Linkedin, it is the top business social networking site.
Besides giving you a place to promote your services and products, your LinkedIn company page gets listed in Google’s and LinkedIn’s search engines, giving you access to analytics and allowing other members to follow your company’s updates.
Your company page is also automatically linked to your profile.
Pro tip: To increase the followers or views to your LinkedIn Company Page, you can include your LinkedIn Business page in your email signatures.
With 335 million monthly active users, Twitter can be a great source of leads. With its short shelf life and focus on news of the moment, it also gives your customers a great way to know what you are thinking of and where you stand on different current issues.
7 best practices on creating business listings that attract customers
For entrepreneurs and businesses, time is the most prized commodity so it’s difficult to be omnipresent. Therefore, choose which platforms work best for your business and at the very minimum, populate these accounts with your basic details and share some content.
- Consistency is key for SEO. Ensure you have the same NAP (name, address, phone number) details across every listing on the web.
- Use one email for all business listings. You can even set up a new gmail account to only cater to your various online listings.
- As far as possible, use visual content.
- Chase reviews from happy customers. One good review can work wonders for your business.
- It’s a good idea to create a page on your website that provides instructions on how to review you on different platforms.
- If you are unsure about taking on a social media, visit some accounts of competitors and companies with inspiring content, to see what they post.
- Include long tail relevant keywords in the summaries and descriptions of your accounts and even as a response to reviews.
As an entrepreneur, you should claim your local listingscitations to take ownership of your company details that may already exist on different business listing platforms. Whichever platforms you decide to pursue, anticipate the questions your customers will ask and include them as long-tail, question based keywords.
Visibility matters – you never know who’s searching for you!
Entrepreneurs and small businesses can compete better in the search wars by utilizing the various free channels. Share your info and leverage content and customer reviews on them to get closer to your customers
Note: While the information above is believed to be accurate and recent, readers are advised to do their own fact finding before making any decisions. Maroon Oak does not endorse or recommend any specific learning institution, nor has the Company been compensated in any way for listing the names above.
We welcome readers suggestions on additional platforms they might have benefitted from but do not appear on this list. Do share them in comments below.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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