When looking for the right place to advertise online, business owners can be overwhelmed by all of the opportunities available to them.

Some of these opportunities require a certain amount of knowledge around cost-per-click or cost-per-impression advertising. However, there is a simple and effective form of online advertising that can help your business reach and gain the trust of more customers.

Many business owners are aware of online business directories but may not be clear on just how advantageous they can be to their own business. Well run, dedicated online directories are not just a digital version of the Yellow Pages, they are also comprehensive search platforms that enable users to instantly identify, learn about, and contact businesses that are relevant to them.


See also: Marketing and advertising - ensuring legal compliance


An online business directory refers to any database published online that has the sole purpose of connecting users with relevant businesses. Directories can contain a wide range of information on each business listed across multiple sectors while some may take a more filtered approach and have a niche or primary focus.

Business owners often make the mistake of thinking that online directories are simply a huge database where their listing will be lost. This is far from the truth and in reality, these search platforms can have significant benefits for businesses of all size.

Maximise customer reach

Google claims that 97% of people use the Internet to search for local businesses which means that an online presence offers the opportunity to significantly increase the reach of your advertising messages.

By being listed on an online business directory, you do not have to rely strictly on organic web traffic or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for people to find your business, having a presence on online directories means you instantly become visible and accessible to more potential customers.


See also: Using online material - Have you got permission?


Additionally, being linked to credible directory sites intrinsically increases the SEO value of your own page, which in turn means more visitors - it’s a win-win situation.

Target audience

There are millions of people online but these people are not necessarily your target audience. Advertising in online business directories can allow you to target the specific audience you are trying to reach. According to the Search Engine Journal, 75-80% of users ignore paid advertisements in search results so instead of putting all your resources behind paid search results it is worth considering investing some of your online budget in listing on online directories.

By choosing to be included in an online directory that is hosted on a specific site with a targeted audience base, you can increase the visibility of your business to the consumers you are actually trying to reach. For instance, The Equestrian Index has over 80,000 monthly page views from equestrian users who are looking specifically for equestrian products or services. If it makes sense for your business to target equestrian consumers or commercial businesses, this could be a perfect fit for you.

Be seen

Radio and TV advertising rely on your audience to either be present at a certain time and/or place in order to see your advertisement and print advertising relies on potential customers seeing an advertisement when they are contemplating a purchase.

If your audience isn’t ‘tuned-in’ at the right time, they will miss your message. Advertising in an online business directory means that your message and your business will always be available and visible at the precise moment that your audience is looking for you.


See also: Five free forms of marketing


Control and flexibility

If you own a business, it is likely that you will rely on referrals as at least one source of leads. Word of mouth is unquestionably one of the greatest forms of marketing but you can and often do lose some degree of control over your message. Advertising in an online business directory means that you can set the precise message you wish to send to your audience.

By advertising in an online business directory, not only do you have the ability to set the precise message you wish to send, you also have the ability to amend your message based on current events, sales cycles, or seasonality. The advantage of advertising in an online business directory over a printed directory is that you can easily manipulate content to stay on message and remain relevant in your customers’ eyes.

Changing habits

As stated by the author of The Now Revolution and Youtility, Jay Baer, directories and references are the new and future marketing.

In an increasingly digital world, people are spending more time than ever researching and seeking relevant information before making the decision to purchase. This means that referrals and online directories play an increasingly important role in the buying process of consumers. Being listed as a trusted or recommended partner can validate your business and increase your chances of landing new customers.

Advertising in online business directories is an excellent and cost-effective way to increase exposure to relevant audiences, control your message at all times, and gain the trust of consumers online.

References: Search Engine Journal, The Now Revolution and Youtility by Jay Baer

Join our FREE Business Barn membership here

Find out how

Search for new business ideas

Search here

Contact us for help and advice

Ask the expert

Join our FREE Business Barn membership here

Find out how

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up here

Contact us for help and advice

Ask the expert