Building a business website and developing the SEO are only the first steps in making it a success. What you want next is advertising for the site and one of the best ways to get this is to add your URL to a business directory listing.
An online web directory submission gives exposure to your site. Its purpose is to drive traffic to its directory listings and it also provides back links to business listings, thereby improving the popularity of those sites and increasing search engine rankings.
Obviously, it's not simply a case that you add a URL to a web business directory and then wait for the enquiries to roll in. You need to choose the right internet directory, check your online directory listing is in the correct category and that any associated text has the appropriate keywords and message. Above all else, check each web page thoroughly before you even submit the site to directories. No matter how much traffic you get from a web business directory, though, it's no good if your website doesn't do its job - so don't always assume that non-converting traffic means a bad placing or low quality referrals.
There are plenty of internet directories and it's important you choose wisely. A business web directory that has little traffic isn't going to generate many leads for you. Check its ranking in the search engines when you look for UK business directories or similar. You can also get the traffic statistics of any internet business directory from a site such as Alexa.com which can also tell you the average pageviews, letting you know if the category layout is any good, encouraging users to flick through.
Avoid any internet business directory that provides a directory of websites in the form of an unbroken listing with no categorisation of entries. The aim of these online directories is simply to gain reciprocal links with no consideration for quality or relevance. In fact, such are not really "directories" and are basically just links pages or farms. It is not unusual for such sites to offer three way linking and to then disappear once enough links to their third party site have been achieved.
If you add your URL to directories of this type, it can be mixed in with all sorts of entries. You're as likely to find yourself in amongst sites offering pornographic products as you are to be listed after one promoting Christian services, so be wary of the affect on your business of this type of internet web directory association - whilst the term "bad neighbourhood" is commonly used amongst webmasters to describe such pages it is not wholly accurate. But we'll cover that more comprehensively later.
If you choose carefully, there's no reason why you can't submit your site to directory after directory. The more quality links you have, the higher the number of enquiries you're likely to get. Which brings us to the doubly-important issue of geo-targeting your submissions. Using a worldwide businesses directory if you only trade locally can result in a slight ranking increase but the increase in non-useful referred visitors can be annoying and, should your backlink profile be predominantly from directories outside of your targeted area, your rankings could suffer locally. For example, a UK web site should seek out predominantly UK based (either tld or IP identified) links directories as a high percentage of inbound links from countries such as India or China can damage your Google.co.uk rankings. Submit your URL to a UK business directory to get relevant enquiries also.
You will find a websites directory comes in varying forms. Some offer free directory submission while others require monthly or annual subscriptions or one-off payments. Many offer a combination of free website directory entries to get you signed up and obtain your email address and then email you about their paid-for services. This offers distinct advantages as if you submit a URL to a free directory, there's no impact on the marketing budget and you can afford to submit to others to get maximum impact.
Using free business directories, or any type of free website directories, has obvious attractions. However, if paid-for entries are also available, these will have more prominence than the free directory website entries. In these cases, the maxim of 'you get what you pay for' often applies though be careful that you are not paying more than what the link itself is worth. Ask yourself - "should this link turn out to be useless from a ranking point of view, how many leads would it have to generate to cover it's own cost?". If the answer is more than 12 (i.e. one per month), then it's not worth it.
While free web directories obviously cost nothing, they need to deliver some results to be worth the effort you put in. Which brings us back to popularity. A free business directory entry that produces no enquiries serves no purpose except a possible marginal increase in your search engine rankings. So bear this in mind before you add a URL to a directory of this type. It is even being debated that links from directories that receive no traffic are devalued ... we think that such is definitely possible and if not already in place, will be in the near future.
We have sites listed in our directory that are definitely interested in traffic link exchanges. Whether they are also interested in other types of link exchange (where links affect ranking) we don't know, but I'm sure they won't mind you asking politely: