How to Start an Online Business Directory

More than a decade ago, the so-called yellow pages dominated the print directory platform, featuring listings of hundreds of businesses. The size of your ad and the number of services you provide widens your reach and gives you an edge over neighboring competitors, at the cost of paying more dollars.

These days, however, businesses are having a harder time determining the return on investment from print directories. With the popularity of the internet, online directories have allowed consumers to see more of the options available to them.

While print directories are still operational and have a niche (rural areas, for example), upping your digital visibility is now the new standard.

Launch Your Own Directory

Person looking up restaurants on their mobile phone

Online websites cover a lot of industries, probably inspiring you to do the same. While having broad coverage sounds good, having a specific niche, theme, or target audience/industry is a better place to start. Focusing on a restaurant or home services, for example, can help you cater your site better and market it to these sectors.

Target Your Area First

A long-term goal is probably for your directory to reach a national or global audience. For instance, focusing on the beauty industry and salon services, including lash lift in Salt Lake City, covers specific locations. This is beneficial for your directory, as it is cost-efficient and helps drive your local traffic.

Do Your Homework

In the elementary stages of your website, reaching out to other businesses is the next (and only) logical step forward. Asking the right open-ended questions to your prospective clients and doing research will give them the impression of you knowing what they need and possibly how to address their problems, which in this case, is promoting their brand and increasing their visibility

Service with a Smile

Customer satisfaction concept on smartphone screen

Focusing on teaching rather than selling is a good way to promote reciprocity and loyalty to your clients instead of coming out as an obvious seller who wants to benefit. In relation to asking questions, listening is one of the most important tools to use when pitching your directory to another business service.

Pressuring someone into making a decision will not likely leave a good impression. Focus on what they need, their goals, and how you can help them with your services in return. Nowadays, giving before receiving makes businesses benefit more in the long term and leads to higher customer loyalty, which is an attribute for a successful long-term business. 

After growing your client base, the never-ending process of promotion sets in and is a good indicator of your business directory taking off. Pat yourself on the back and continue to provide the services your long-term clients and new ones will look forward to while actively marketing your website to other industries and areas.

Search engine optimization, Google Ads, social media, and face-to-face networking are strategies you can use to have more visitors and higher traffic. Contacting similar businesses in your current listings and informing them the competition is with you should help convince them that your directory is the place to be to increase visibility, and in turn, increase the return on investment for their business.