Top 11 Important Directories You Need Your Business To Be On

Despite what some might think, web directories are highly valuable for local businesses. It is true that some directories can be spammy, but they are not inherently poor in quality.

There are plenty of solid, well-regulated web directories online. Before search engines became the most prevalent way of finding information, people used web directories to find relevant websites. These listings are still an important way to help people to find your company.

What Does Google Think?

The idea persists that Google takes a dim view of local business listings. The reason why people have this perception is that in 2012 Google penalized several hundred web directories.

This move made many businesses understandably cautious about putting their info into local listings. However, it is important to recognize that the reason why Google penalized these sites is that they were poor in quality.

Since then, Google has not made a practice of penalizing directories simply for being directories. Google actually focuses on listings that are not adding value for users.

Why Are Directories So Important?

Putting your information into an online directory can be tedious. There are hundreds from which you can choose. And it’s not exactly riveting to enter the same data (your address, phone number, etc.) over and over again. So why do directories matter?

What if the major TV networks had advertising space available during the Super Bowl and offered your business a free spot? All you have to do is claim it. You would be out of your mind not to take advantage of visibility that brands are willing to spend millions of dollars on.

That example is a little extreme, but the point is still true. There are powerful, high traffic sites that will allow you to claim your listing for free or a minimal cost. Brands will pay a lot of money to be featured on other sites with similar domain authorities.

If you’re not claiming your listing on these free sites, you’re turning your back on extensive visibility and consequently, on revenue. The most important site where you need to claim your listing is Google My Business, which has a domain authority of 100.

The Internet Saves Time and Money

Perhaps you are a believer in the power of the traditional yellow pages, print marketing, or radio and TV advertising. Moz points out that, if so, you have every reason to pursue local business listings online.

By doing so, you can accomplish the same goals for much less money. Advertising yourself in print, such as in the phone book or through brochures, is expensive. In contrast, while not all online directories are free, you save a lot more through using them than you would by turning to print marketing.

Online directories also enable people to solve their problems much more easily. When users do find you online, they can click on a link to find out more about your company and actually talk to you.

This is not an ability people have when they discover you by means of radio or TV. The number of people you can reach online is far greater than those you can reach through print or other means.

Protect Your Brand

There is another reason why you need to claim your online listings. If you do nothing, you are leaving an opportunity wide open for someone else to claim your listing and damage your reputation.

It’s essential that you pursue local listings order to protect yourself from trolls and underhanded competitors. You need to do so even if you only go after the minimum number of listings.

Top 11 Important Directories

Here are what we believe are the top 11 most important directories on which to list your business.

Business Directories

Let’s start with the human-edited, high quality private directories that are not covered by third party listing services.

Important Search Engine Map Listings

Yellow Pages Type Directories

Communities

More to Know About Local Listings

There is a lot more you need to know about listing your business in online directories apart from what we’re covering here. For example, how do you find directories specific to your niche? What are the directories that are the most important to your business besides those in our top 10?

There is advice you need to be aware of, such as the necessity of making your name, address, and phone number (NAP) exactly the same across the internet. You should also know that there are databases you can pay to be in and which can be an enormous advantage to you.

Databases partner with directories, saving you the valuable time you would spend entering your information manually. Databases also enable you to manage multiple listings from one location.

You can find a lot of the information you need in the post linked above. Don’t neglect your reputation or squander a golden opportunity to increase your revenue. Do what you need to do today to take advantage of online directories.

How to Monetize Your Blog Like a Pro

Last year, celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) earned an astonishing $15,000 in daily income, as his website gained a value of $2.66 million. Tech Crunch, starting out as a blog, has become a viable brand, worth $10.82 million.

Blogging has become an industry in itself. Once upon a time it was a platform for personal journalling, but over the years blogs have gained legitimacy, visibility and power on the web and beyond it. As you can see, one of the changes has been the fact that you can make real money blogging, even without becoming a major information powerhouse.

If you have thought about monetizing your website, here are some tips to help you get started.

Get Your Toolbox in Order

Whichever method (or methods) below you pick, the key is to use the right tools to organize the process well. Here are just a few good ones to consider:

  • Google Analytics is a necessary evil for properly monitoring your traffic sources
  • Register an account at ShareASale. That’s an affiliate marketing network that will connect you to quite a few cool programs
  • If you are going to be creating and selling a product or a service, make sure to use a sales management platform to organize leads properly. Salemate is a good affordable option

salesmate

Don’t Begin Right Away

This is an unpopular opinion with some, but the truth. It might seem like a good idea to immediately start trying to monetize a blog you’ve just started. But in the beginning you won’t have any traffic to drive profit.

The exception to this rule is if you already have a viable brand and are expanding it to include a blog for engagement and social marketing. In which case the traffic will come from your initial site, and monetizing right away makes sense. If not, focus on building that blog before you think about making money from it.

Join AdSense

Google AdSense is an important tool for anyone seeking to monetize their website. They provide both text and image ads, and usually the image ads attract the most attention and lead to the most clicks.

Of course, this is dependent on your traffic, as most people will not click through to ads. But the payout is decent, it adds up over time, and they are a trusted source for such a program. Other ad programs exist, but none come as highly recommended.

Here are some great AdSense plugins that will make the integration easier for you.

Use Affiliate Programs

Affiliates are going to be one of your greatest sources of income. Whether someone is promoting your product, or you are promoting someone elses, even small payouts will lead to a decent payout over time.

The more momentum a program gains, the more passive income you will start to make. You would be surprised by the numbers and the way they build after the first six months, and especially after the first year.

You can also use banners to quickly integrate best-working affiliate programs into your blog. Bannersnack offers a variety of free banner templates you can use for that.

banner templates

You can also offer your blog to companies of products you commonly buy and enjoy. Many will pay several hundred dollars for a solid review on a well established site.

Don’t forget that for both affiliate links and sponsored reviews you should use a proper disclaimer not to lose your readers’ trust and to be in-line with the US laws (and Google).

Optimize Your Search Ranking

You have to come up high in a search if you want to bring in the traffic that will inevitably up your income. Here’s a helpful checklist to get you started.

Since no one goes to the second page of Google, you have to have a good market share on certain keywords, and optimize your blog using that data. Invest in market research to find the best keywords that you can use, both long and short tailed, to improve your SEO.

Open a Shop

Having a shop only works for some people, as often a niche won’t really apply to a product series very well. But even selling mugs to those who might want to help support your site can be beneficial.

Try and create products that relate well to your niche, however, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of inside jokes and references that you have built with your followers over time.

Release an Ebook

Ebooks are big, and they have plenty of uses. They don’t bring in a lot of money, however, which can be a problem unless you have the status in your industry to be able to charge a higher price for a download.

Most people will offer them cheap or free, and use it to improve their visibility and draw people to their blog, thereby improving their other income possibilities. It will ultimately depend on you.

Example: The Lost Girls knew that and wrote an excellent book about their travels that has gotten great reviews. Both ebooks and self publication are potential routes for this goal.

Become a Speaker or Consultant

Are you now fairly well known? Have some street cred in your niche? Then start using your blog as a platform for finding guest speaker or consulting opportunities. You can earn thousands doing this.

Offer Freelancing Services

Your blog can act as a kind of portfolio, showing off your writings skills, nature and passion. That makes it a great opportunity to attract other people who want you to write for them.

Occasionally you will want to write a free guest blog post to promote your site. But otherwise you can offer your writing for pay, advertising yourself both through your blog and on sites like oDesk.

Start a Class or Series

Want something a little more hands on or creative? Then why not run a class or webinar series from your blog? People will pay good money for a well organized class, and you can offer the world your knowledge while improving your own financial stability. Everyone wins.

Udemy is the perfect place to start an online course and you can sell it through the platform too! Another great tool is Google Helpouts.

It might seem like a heavy task, and too good to be true. But you can genuinely turn your website into a profitable one, even if it takes time. You just need to know how to do it. Here are some tips and tricks for people who have managed to boost their regular traffic and are now looking to capitalize on that growing popularity

To get inspired, see this list of indie blogs that pay for a living.

Have some tips for monetizing your blog? Questions? Let us know in the comments

How to Optimize the SEO of Your Landing Pages to Rank in Google’s Top 10

For the ideal customers, the landing page creates that first impression. It initiates their interactions with your business.Of course, there are several ways visitors can arrive at your landing pages. These include social media, display advertising, product launch direct referrals, and, more importantly, search engines (primarily Google).If you want visitors to take the desired action when they visit your landing page, you have to first make your page visible to search users. The reason why is that the majority of your target audience searches Google for information related to your business.Besides, several studies show that web pages at the first page of Google search results get a higher search traffic.Chitika search result position report % of Google TrafficUnfortunately, only a few web pages make it to the top 10 organic listings (it’s basically a fight between you and your competitors). In fact, most of them get replaced quickly.Why? There are several reasons. Maybe a Google algorithm changed and a previous SEO methodology isn’t working anymore. Or perhaps your website was penalized for trying to manipulate Google’s algorithm. The situation can be very frustrating.In this article, you’re going to learn the right SEO tactics that will allow you to rank your landing page higher on search engine’s results pages.

What Is a Landing Page?

Generally, a landing page is any page on your website that your website’s visitor lands on after clicking on your search results, social media posts, links, or ads.But to be specific, the landing page we are talking about in this context is a standalone landing page.It’s a landing page designed for a specific marketing campaign—for example, a promotional page for your newly released product. Here’s a perfect landing page from Copyblogger’s Authority Program:Copyblogger landing pageWith that out of the way, here is proven action plan to rank your landing pages in Google’s top 10 organic results.

Step 1: Conduct Proper Keyword Research

When it comes to keyword research, don’t scratch the surface—go all in.According to Nick Eubanks, a contributor at SEMrush:
Keyword research is at the core of the search marketing process. It is the absolute first item you need to address before doing anything else.
In other words, it all starts with keywords.It starts with keywordsSometimes you can guess your keywords—and you don’t have any problems. But if you want to be sure of what you’re doing and somehow predict your end result, guessing will limit you.There are a bunch of keyword research tools you can implement to know exactly what your target audience is using to find your business online.You can use the Google Keyword Planner tool. This resource is one of the best free keyword research tools out there. No matter what industry you’re in or what keyword research approach you use, you will spend most of your time using the Google Keyword Planner tool.If you’re not familiar with keyword research, here’s the step-by-step process:Log into Google Keyword Planner. Then navigate to the tools tab and choose Keyword Planner. The screen below will show up. Click the “Search for new keywords using phrase, website or category” option.Google Adwords Keyword PlannerNext, the page should expand to this:Google AdWords Keyword planner expandsGo ahead and enter seed keywords or a website URL to begin your research. If you’re targeting a particular location outside the U.S., you can specify that location as well.For example, when I searched for “loans” I found a bunch of keywords I can leverage to rank my loan-related landing pages. Notice the average monthly searches and suggested bids.Remember that if advertisers are bidding higher for a keyword, it definitely means that it’s a valuable keyword.Keyword search traffic for Loan search keywordsYou want to look at the search volume as well. A high search volume means more people are searching for that keyword per month.Once you’ve found viable keywords to target on your landing pages, it’s time to create long-form content that will answer users’ questions.

Step 2: Create Compelling Long-Form Content

With your keywords ready, it’s time for you to start creating your content. But you must deliberately create long-form content. Why?You must because Google seems to reward detailed and visually-driven content more than the short-form variations.What’s more, data from Backlinko reveals that long-form content ranks higher in Google’s search results than short-form content. The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words.Content must be 2000+ words to rank in Google’s top pages, according to this exclusive research by SerpIQ.SERPIQ research on average content length to rank in top 10Unfortunately, I see a lot of landing pages filled with a lot of images and little or no text at all.It’s worth noting that Google’s bot crawls written content easier than it crawls images.According to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines: “Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. If you must use images for textual content, use the Alt attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.”John Sonmez understands the importance of producing long-form content for his landing page. Interestingly, his landing page is ranking at the first position for the keyword “How to learn a new programming language fast.” The content is not only long but also contains engaging images and testimonials to increase conversions.Google Search Results for How to learn a new programming language fastIf you want to enjoy organic rankings, you have to focus on producing long-form content. It plays a vital role in supporting other Google ranking factors—God’s truth.

Step 3: Optimize Your Content for SEO

It’s not enough to create long-form content. If you don’t optimize your content and your landing page, you’ll likely be ranking for the wrong keywords.However, this doesn’t imply that you should stuff the whole page with your target keywords. Use the keywords strategically when and where necessary.Ensure you include your target keywords in your landing page’s metadata (title tag and meta description).

Step 4: Build Links to Your Landing Page

Link building is an age-old SEO tactic that Google loves. Without the right links, you will not rank in Google.After creating your landing page, you need backlinks pointing to it to reinforce and strengthen the keywords. In fact, link building is the most important success factor in your professional SEO strategy.Link BuildingSo how do you go about building links to your landing pages?One effective way to do so is to create persuasive guest posts containing a link to your landing page and submit them to websites with high domain authority (DA) in your niche.I mention websites with high DA because link quality is also an important factor. Not all links are created the same. A link from Entrepreneur will make more impact than a link from a newly created website. With respect to using your network, you can also ask your friends in the same niche to link back to you.

Conclusion

While your email list and PPC ads can generate traffic to your landing page, you will be leaving a lot on the table if you do not optimize your landing page for search engines.The good news is, if you implement the tips that I’ve shared in this post, you could just find your landing page on the first page of Google for your target keywords. And if it doesn’t happen, keep at it.As usual, I’d love to hear from you. Which other techniques do you use to optimize your landing pages in order to achieve a higher Google ranking? Share your thoughts in the comment box.
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Gail Gardner is the Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap.com