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Getting Listed in Directories and Search Engines

Techniques and strategies for do-it-yourself web marketing to get into directories and search engines.

Here are some tips to help small businesses and internet managers in larger business get started on their web marketing. We’ve included do’s and don’ts based on a decade in the Internet business, and FoundLocally’s own success in organically building traffic to a million monthly visitors using only online marketing techniques, which we like to call “word of mouse”.

How do you get listed in these search engines and directories?

Every site you run into, you should add yourself. Start with the major search engines (it may take a month or two to be listed initially), and then use the search engines to find any directories appropriate to your company, industry and geographic scope.
Industry (                            )
Directory / Listing / Guide
City (                    )
Province (            )
Use each of the major search engines and try different combinations of city/province/Canada with different industry/business labels and either “directory”, “listings: or “guide” until you have run out of links to go to. Keep a record of which sites you have submitted to (do this in an Excel spreadsheet  where you sort alphabetically by name and/or by URL (the web address and name can sometimes be different). It is bad form—and me even be counter-productive—to make multiple submissions to the same site.
You should pay attention to the scope of each directory. If you do not fit their scope, either because you are the wrong industry, or in the wrong community, don’t waste their time –or yours—by submitting to it.

What directories cost

Some directories are free, some charge a nominal amount, and some are pricey (charging hundreds or thousands for a listing), and some only include you if you buy ads in one of their other/traditional media (the Yellow Pages™. Is a good example of this).
Watch for annual fees (or monthly fees, required for all 12 months) when you are a seasonal business. While a directory may present good value in-season, they can be a horrible use of a company’s working capital when there is no business gained from a directory. If you can, pay only for the months you need. Like Dec-Feb for ski businesses, and April-July for golf businesses or tourist attractions.
Some submissions require you to register, and pick a userID and password, so you can return later an update your information. Pre-select a userID & password combination you can remember, though some sites will force you to use a different one because they have different minimum password lengths (or maximums) and require numbers and/or characters for “security reason”. Some will use your email address as the userID, which can cause problems if you manage several businesses or listings in a directory but have only one email address. Keep track of which userID & passwords you use with which submissions.

Should you pay to be in a directory?

It depends. Ask them what level of traffic the directory gets, how do they report it (avoid directories quoting “hits” instead of visitors… industry experts joke that hits is a acronym for “how idiots track surfers”), and how can you verify it? You may want to pas on paid directories on your first pass, but keep track of the pay directories for later consideration
If you are lucky, and you find a directory that lists other directories ( does this in each community, in their Business-Communications section. See also FoundLocally’s listing of Directories),then note the directory, and begin submitting to any listed directories that you also qualify for.
I recommend having three tabs in your Excel worksheet:
Submissions | Directories of Directories | Pay Sites for Later
and each sheet should have six columns:
Site | URL | date submitted | UserID | Password | Notes
This will help you keep track of all the sites you’ve visited.
Download our WebMarketingTemplate.xls to start organizing your web marketing efforts
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