One of the first things a local SEO professional will talk about is directories. I want to quickly cover what they are, how they work, and why you need them, but first…
A Little Directory History
If you go back, way back, to the 80s, dentists will remember when the ADA said it was finally appropriate to do marketing. More specifically they permitted dentists to place a single AD in the Yellow Pages. This was highly effective, mostly because there was no other way to find a dentist at the time. It was like printing money. A single $25 listing would generate all the business a dentist would ever need. Fast forward to:
The Early Days of Internet Marketing
When people were signing up in droves for AOL, if you could get a listing in DMOZ, it was similar to placing an AD in the Yellow Pages. Once in DMOZ you would show up on every search engine. It was the only place online where this type of data was aggregated.
Back in the days of DMOZ, data aggregators were offline curators of mailing and telemarketing lists. For about $100 you could get a confirmed list of 1000 businesses or people who you could market to. Since then they have moved to the internet and found more and more ways to gather, curate, and distribute this data. Nowadays, data aggregators are integral to the directory world. They provide the foundation of data that all directories start from. There are a lot of directory management services out there, and they all connect with the four major data aggregators (Factual, Foursquare, Infogroup & Localeze) to get your data out there.
How to Get Your Data Out There
The usual process is you submit your data to a service (your agency usually does this) who then pushes it to the four major data aggregators. These aggregators will collect this data over the course of a month. This data is then processed over the next month and made part of their primary database. The primary database is then accessed by directories periodically, as often as a month or as infrequent as a year depending on what the directory pays for access. All this to say it can take a 60 to 90 days just to get your data out there.
Let’s get to the actual directories, where prospective patients can find you. Directories are online websites with lists of businesses that people can search. There is a whole ecosystem of directories and naturally Google is at the top. This is followed by Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, and for doctors & medical professionals you have Healthgrades.
There are a few levels of directories:
Google, Yelp, Bing & Yahoo
Semi-Relevant Specialty Directories –
Healthgrades, 1800Dentist, etc.
Hyper Local Directories –
Usually tied to local newspapers, radio or TV Stations.
Spam Directories –
Some folk tryin to make a buck.
Top Tier Directories
The top tier of directories actively update their data and tend to be as much a source for data as a directories. They command so much attention from the market that businesses will actively update their information directly on the directory’s platform. They can also act like an aggregator with APIs to query their data.
These companies focus on a specific business vertical to make themselves more relevant to searches about the vertical they support. Do a search for a doctor and you might see their Healthgrades profile in the search. Have a Healthgrades profile? Link it to your website and it will be more relevant for the types of search your profile shows up in.
This is a real grab-bag of websites that might be relevant for your city. If you see one of them coming up in searches for businesses in your city, it might be worthwhile to sign up.
Google is a Directory
They’re the most-searched search engine. Go, sign up for Google My Business, do all the things they ask. They require you verify that you own the listing and they will be most confident in the data you provide manually. If you do nothing else online, do this.
Oh yeah, reviews are good too. Check out our video on our Online Review Generation service.
This is a lot of things.
We get it. There is a lot to this directory thing. Some things are easy, some are hard, and your time is better spent on production. If you want all the things, but you don’t want to spend all the time, give WEO Media a call today. Directory optimization is a standard part of our Premium SEO Services. Our SEO experts didn’t research this article, they lived it, and if you want that kind of expertise WEO Media is for you.
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