Local Search Series Part 3: Paid Online Business Directories

Local search is a tough nut to crack. Business owners need to work hard to get to the top of Google ‘My Business’ and other free online business directories. It doesn’t just happen overnight; it requires varying degrees of diligence and patience. depending on what you’re selling.

Essentially, the usefulness of free listing services very much depends on how competitive your marketplace is. For instance, an optician is likely to surface higher than a café in local search results because they are fewer in number. In such cases it may not be a bad idea to enhance your business’s visibility by paying for a premium listing.

The Digital Marketing industry is fiercely competitive, since it combines so many elements – content writing, social media management, web development, etc. We quickly realised that free listings weren’t cutting the mustard for us so decided to upgrade our profile on Yell, the UK’s leading online business directory.

Please note: I purposely left Yell out of the last post in the Local Search series, ‘How to Get Listed on Free Local Business Directories’, not because it doesn’t offer a basic free service (it does), but due to the fact our direct experience of using Yell comes through its premium service. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Local Search (a.k.a. LocalSEO), head over to our first post in the Local Search series, ‘What is Local Search and How can it Benefit my Business?’.

In this post I’ll take you through our experience with Yell so far; why we chose Yell, how to sign up and the benefits we’ve reaped so far.

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Why we chose Yell for a premium local business listing

Firstly, Yell was already top-of-mind when we sat down to consider which local directory service to invest in. We’d already registered for a free local business listing after a recommendation from a friend and we liked the look of the site (very user-friendly). We had also noticed Yell had the highest Google Page ranking among other online business directories. The signs were all there, so Yell it was and yell we did.

How to set up a Yell account

Firstly we registered with Yell for a free business listing. This process was very straightforward. All we needed to do was enter our basic business information and we had a profile.

The next morning we received a call from a Yell sales agent. It wasn’t invasive, and we had of course already shown an interest in advertising with them, so fair game really. As luck would have it, there was a half-price sale running at the time. So we chose a plan that worked for us and paid up. Next, we added more information to our account, including a detailed description, keywords, photos, and a logo.

Is Yell working for us?

So far we’ve had 3 leads in the 6 weeks since joining Yell. None have converted but we have had the opportunity to meet potential clients and discuss different ways of working together. We are confident we created a strong impression and will hear from these people again.

These people found us due to our current profile ranking. As a paying client of Yell’s, our listing surfaces at the very top of results for relevant search queries targeting our area. For example, we rank top in ‘Hatfield’ and ‘Hertfordshire’ for key terms such as ‘Web Design & Development’, ‘Content Marketing’, ‘Social Media Management’ and ‘Digital Marketing Consultant’.

But what really draws the eye to our profile are our reviews. Nothing is more significant than those gold stars and a high average rating beneath a business. The same goes for Google reviews. The more 5-star reviews you have, the more trustworthy you are. We currently have 6 and we’ve no doubt this was fundamental in generating those 3 leads.

Overall, we’re happy with our investment in Yell so far. We just need to make one or two sales before we’re really sold on it. You can sign up by following this link.

How to incentivise your clients

If you’re quite sure a client is delighted with the service you’ve provided, ask them to leave a quick review on your Yell profile. Every review counts. Make it routine, but don’t ask until the very last moment. You could even incentivise the action by offering for a discount on the next service! This is what we’ve started to do and we’re already starting to see the difference.

Other Paid Online Business Directories

We haven’t invested in any other online business directories yet, although we would like to. We’re just waiting to see how we do with Yell first, since they are supposed to be the UK’s leading local business directory. If that pays off then we might consider upgrading our account with the following services:

  • Yelp
  • Free Index
  • Thomson Local

You can read more about these services in our previous post of the Local Search series, ‘How to get your business on Google and other free local business directories‘.

Offline directories?

Just because we live in a forever-changing digital world, we shouldn’t completely ignore the value of offline directories. Nobody uses the Yellow Pages anymore but local business directories are circulated in cafes, bars, pubs, social clubs, clinics, dentists and libraries every month. Not everyone is devoted to digital after all, and you never know when the right person will causally flick though a directory and find you. Our local pub receives monthly copies of the Hertfordshire Business Directory and we always have a quick look. Even if we aren’t necessarily looking for anything, offline directories are still useful for mental reference!

Do you represent a small or medium sized business? Have you invested in online business directories? Which work for you? If this post was helpful please share!

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