Remember the days when you submitted your website to thousands of online directories? Those days are gone, but increasing the visibility of your small business through online directories is more important than ever. The key now is to list your business in the right directories. Here are the 5 top directories that can improve your search engine standings, solidify your reputation and get the word out about your small business. Most offer free as well as paid options.

#1. Google My Business

Words can’t express how important claiming your business in Google My Business directory . Google is the most widely used search engine and claiming your business, adding your contact information, business hours and location to the business directory is a sure-fire way to improve search engine rankings. Add photos, coupons, respond to customer reviews and obtain statistics about who is visiting your site and where they come from.

Search “Jackalope Brewing Company” in Google to see an example of Google My Business in action. On the right side of the results page, you’ll see photos, hours, location, phone number and find links to the company website as well as customer reviews, all provided by Google.

#2. Bing Places

Bing Places is the Bing search engine’s equivalent to Google My Business. Add your business logo, contact information, photos, special offers and hours. Bing Places promises to add more features as time goes on.

#3. Yelp

Yelp is a review site. Chances are your business is already listed in Yelp even if you haven’t submitted it yourself. Millions of businesses are profiled and millions of visitors visit Yelp to read the various reviews each day. Because Yelp is so popular, it’s one of the highest profile online directories. Claim your business and become involved. Good reviews help businesses, bad reviews cause damage. Yelp is that powerful.

#4. CrunchBase

CrunchBase is a platform for small businesses and professionals. The real advantages of listing a profile in CrunchBase is enhanced SEO. CrunchBase offers a wide range of options for businesses and executives. One of its most attractive elements is the large quantity of content contributors are allowed. For example, member David DelCollo’s CrunchBase profile contains a photo, overview, personal details and professional history. Timelines and followers are also part of the unique CrunchBase feature set.

#5. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a networking tool ideal for professional networking. Users can also create a company page for their businesses. The popular networking social site currently has 433 million users with two new members joining every second. LinkedIn is most effective for small business when employees, colleagues and other professionals connect with the company page. The more connections, the wider the range of contacts. LinkedIn is an essential tool for enhancing SEO efforts and solidifying your business reputation. LinkedIn offers free memberships as well as premium subscriptions.

Final tips: Make sure your contact information is accurate and updated on each site. On sites that allow feedback, respond to comments and reviews when appropriate. Use keywords in your profile and summaries that indicate your primary field of business and your location. Make it easy for both customers and search engines to find you.

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