How to Decide Whether to Pay for Local Business Listings
One of the things recommended for local businesses to boost their visibility online is to claim their listings on local directories. While some of the best ones are free, others have fees that range from one-time to monthly. For many local businesses, these can be overwhelming if you aren’t sure which ones are the best. In this post, we’re going to look at a few questions to answer to determine whether you should invest in a paid local business listing.
Is the listing on the first page of Google search results for your business name?
Your first step at determining whether you want to invest in a local business directory is to see if that listing appears on the first page of Google search results for your business name. These listings are important as they will be the ones people use to learn more about your business outside of your website.
Note that you won’t always have to pay for listings just because they are on the first page of search. Instead, ask the next question.
Is there a free option for getting a listing on the site?
In many cases, the answer to this is yes. Many popular local business directories, like Yelp, offer both free listings and paid advertising. Your goal is to look for an option on the site to add or claim your free listing. If you found the site through a Google search of your business name, go for the claim option.
From here, take advantage of your listing to do as much as you can for free. Update all of your details. Add your website link. Upload photos and videos. Create discounts and coupons. The more detailed your listing is, the more likely it is to convert a visitor into a customer.
Once you get your free listing on a local business directory, be prepared to get a call or email from someone at the company who wants you to upgrade your listing or advertise. Let these people know that you want to first start with the free listing to see what happens and that you will decide if you want to pay for more exposure from there.
Will the listing put you on the first page of your category?
If you decide to go with a local business directory that only offers paid listings, upgrade from a free to paid listing, or start advertising, then you will want to ask some additional questions. The first is will payment put your listing on the first page of your category? There’s generally not a lot of other good reasons to pay for a listing or advertising unless it will push you above your competitors.
Is the listing driving customers to your competitors?
Speaking of your competitors, are they getting customers from their listing? It’s hard to say 100% for sure if they are, but you can look at their reviews to see if their listing is getting action from real customers. Read the reviews to see if the network seems to attract positive reviewers, as some tend to only attract reviewers who have something to complain about.
Does the listing come as a package deal?
Some local business directories come as a package deal through services like Yext. Their packages will usually start at $99 per year for a paid listing on one network, or $499 per year for listings on many of the top local business directories.
You will want to look carefully when you are offered a package deal. In particular, check out the networks that the package is offering you a listing upon. In some cases, you might find that you have either already acquired a free listing on many of the networks, or the networks are not popular enough to drive customers to your business.
Is the listing driving traffic and business?
If you do choose to buy a local business directory listing or advertising, be sure to monitor the results of your subscription. Watch your website to see if you are getting traffic from those listings and ask your in-store customers how they found you. Before your next renewal, determine which listings are bringing customrs to you.
Your best bet is to start with free listings for your local business, and only pay for those that are proven traffic generators for businesses in your industry. Anything else may prove to be a waste of your marketing and advertising budget.