Boost Your Directory Website’s Traffic with This Comprehensive SEO Guide.

SEO guide online directory
Last Updated on: Posted inBlog

Lost on how to get your online directory business out of the depths of page 13 in search results?

You’re not alone.

Without traffic, your Directory is meaningless, and SEO can be a tricky road to navigate, but it doesn’t have to be.

We’ve put together this complete guide on how to do SEO for your directory website.

Follow these tips and generate traffic, leads, and potential customers sooner than you think.

Ready? Let’s go.

What does SEO mean for directory businesses?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of optimizing a website to improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

This is important for directory businesses because it helps them to attract more qualified traffic to their website.

Here’s a quick overview of what goes into ‘optimizing a website for search engines (we’ll go deeper into these in later sections):

  1. Adding relevant keywords and phrases to important areas of your directory website (e.g., meta titles, descriptions, and URLs)
  2. On-page optimization (i.e., improving content quality with relevant images and videos, internal linking, reducing page load times, etc.)
  3. Making your site mobile-friendly
  4. Building links from other relevant websites
  5. Speed optimization

Why is a strong SEO strategy important for an online directory business?

  • Increased visibility: A strong SEO strategy can help a directory business rank higher in the SERPs to get in front of more eyes when people search for related keywords and phrases.
  • More sales & revenue for your directory: When a directory business ranks higher in search results, it’s more likely to attract qualified traffic (AKA people actively searching for the products or services that the directory advertise). These will make business owners more likely to convert to paid listings and ads and bring you greater sales and revenue.
  • Users have an easier time on your site: A strong SEO strategy means faster loading times, easy navigation, and mobile-friendliness, all of which can help to increase the chances of converting visitors into customers.
  • Increased brand awareness: By ranking higher in search results, a directory business can also increase its brand awareness among potential customers. Over time, you’ll establish yourself as a trusted and reliable source of information in its industry. Like Yelp is now.
  • Gain a competitive advantage: Having a strong SEO strategy can also give an online directory a competitive advantage over its rivals. If the Website ranks higher in search results, it is more likely to attract advertisers who may have otherwise gone to a competitor.

Do your keyword research.

Keyword research is an important part of SEO for directory websites because it helps identify the phrases and terms people use to search for businesses and services in your industry.

Once you know what people are searching for, you can create the content to serve those queries on your online directory.

This is why you must narrow down on a niche and flesh out your target audience because that will help you identify keywords relevant to the directory business.

How to do keyword research for your directory website

Using keyword research tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Keywords Everywhere, you can get an idea of the types of main keywords and long-tail phrases that people use to search for businesses and services related to your directory.

Once you have your list of keywords, you can begin to optimize your website accordingly.

  1. Start with a list of seed keywords: An excellent way to get started with keyword research is to create a list of seed keywords related to your business or industry. These seed keywords can be broad or specific, depending on your goals and target audience.
  2. Focus on long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords, which are more specific and longer phrases, tend to have less competition and may be more targeted to your audience. If you’re a newer site, aim for keywords with a low KD score (the lower, the better). These keywords are easier to rank for.
  3. Consider the user intent behind keywords: Are users looking for information, products, or services? By understanding user intent, you can optimize your content and website to meet your target audience’s needs better. Google a keyword and see what’s ranking (information, products, or service). That is how you check for search intent.
  4. Use related keywords and synonyms: In addition to the main keywords you are targeting, it can be helpful to include related keywords and synonyms in your content to help improve its relevancy and reach a wider audience.
  5. Monitor and update your keyword list: Keywords and user search behavior can change over time, so it’s important to regularly monitor and update your keyword list to ensure that it is still relevant and effective.

Where do I put these keywords in my directory?

Once you’ve identified relevant keywords and phrases, you’ll need to add them to key locations on your directory website.

Here are some of the important areas to consider:

  • Meta titles and descriptions
  • Page titles
  • Content on page (e.g., the home page, blog posts, landing pages, etc.)
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Images and videos (e.g., ALT tags, titles, captions, etc.)
  • URLs and navigation menus  
  • Backlinks from other websites

Once you’ve added these keywords, you’ll need to ensure they are used consistently and appropriately throughout your directory website.

Take care of your on-page SEO elements.

Every page on your website should be optimized for SEO. This way, business directories ensure that their pages are easily discoverable by users and search engines.

Here’s what you need to consider:

  1. Use descriptive and relevant titles and meta descriptions: Title tags and meta descriptions should accurately reflect the page’s content and include relevant keywords since they tell Google precisely what your page is about.
  2. Break down the content with headings and subheadings: Headings and subheadings help structure the content of your page and make it easier for users and search engines to understand the main topics covered. Make sure to respect the headings hierarchy.
  3. URLs should be concise, descriptive, and include relevant keywords.
  4. Include relevant images whenever possible and use descriptive alt text to improve the user experience, which can also be beneficial for SEO.
  5. Use internal linking wherever an opportunity arises: This is the practice of linking to other pages within the same website. Doing so helps search engines discover and crawl new pages on your site, understand its structure and hierarchy better, and distribute link equity (giving more authority to newer pages). All so individual pages can rank better in the SERP.
  6. Link to external sources: Linking to high-quality, authoritative sources can help improve the credibility and value of your content.
  7. Use schema markup: Schema markup is a type of microdata that you can add to your website’s HTML code to help search engines understand the content of your page. It can help your page stand out in the search results and provide additional information to users. (GeoDirectory does it automagically)

By paying attention to these on-page elements, you can help improve the visibility and credibility of your online directory website in search engine results.

This can lead to more relevant traffic and potentially more business for your directory.

Make sure your online directory is flawless on mobile

Aside from the obvious fact that mobile usage is on the rise, Google has stated mobile-friendliness as a legitimate ranking factor.

This means that if your website is not optimized for mobile devices, it will be less likely to appear in search engine results.

Did you know that 82 percent of smartphone users have ‘near me’ in their searches?

That shows the importance of optimizing your website for mobile devices, especially as an online directory pointing to local establishments.

To optimize your website for mobile devices, here are a few things you can do:

  • Compress images: Large images can take longer to load on mobile devices. So resize them to the minimum size required for display on mobile devices. This can help your web pages load faster, which is important for providing users with a good experience. A free tool you can use is the free photoshop close:
  • Use responsive web design: Make sure your website is built with a responsive theme to adjust automatically to different screen sizes and devices (GeoDirectory is responsive out of the box). This will help ensure your directory website looks good and functions properly on all devices.
  • Make sure the content is readable: Make sure your website’s content is readable on smaller devices. This can be done by using larger font sizes, increasing the line height, and ensuring the content does not overflow the mobile device’s screen.
  • Optimize for faster load times: The probability of a user bouncing increases 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds. Ensure your website is optimized for faster page load times by using caching plugins, minifying CSS and JavaScript files, and reducing the number of HTTP requests.

Pro tip: Consider using mobile-friendly directory plugins like GeoDirectory if you’re using WordPress to build your directory business. It has built-in mobile optimization features like responsive design, mobile search, and a highly proficient database for quick search results.

Don’t sleep on local SEO

As a directory website owner, it’s essential to understand the value of local SEO and how it can benefit your customers.

By optimizing your website for local search terms, you can attract local businesses and demonstrate your expertise in this area.

Of course, you should optimize for keywords such as “online advertising,” “web marketing,” “SEO,” and “SEM,”

To optimize your directory website for local SEO, you should ensure that your website content is relevant and includes keywords that local businesses are searching for.

This includes optimizing titles, descriptions, and other on-page elements to make it easier for search engines to understand the content of your website.

In addition to optimizing your website, you should create a Google My Business profile for your directory website.

This will help you to show up in local search results and attract local businesses to your platform.

You can improve your online presence and attract more customers by fully optimizing your GMB profile with accurate information about your directory website.

As you attract local businesses to your directory website, you should emphasize the importance of local SEO and offer services that help businesses to improve their online presence.

Don’t limit yourself to selling Premium Listings.

This includes offering packages that include local SEO services such as GMB optimization and local directory submissions.

By demonstrating your expertise in local SEO and offering services that help businesses to improve their online presence, you can attract more customers to your directory website and establish yourself as a leader in the local SEO space.

Here are some pro tips for improving your local SEO:

  1. Create and optimize your Google My Business listing: Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to manage your business’s presence on Google Maps and in Google search results. By claiming and optimizing your listing, you can help improve your visibility in local search results and provide users with important information about your business, such as your location and contact information.
  2. Use relevant and local keywords: Incorporate relevant and local keywords into your website’s content and metadata, such as the title tags and meta descriptions. This can help improve the relevancy of your website for local searches. For example, you should have pages for keywords like: Local SEO in “Location,” SEM in “Location,” and Web Marketing in “Location” where location is the area you serve. If you serve more than one area, you should convert them all, 1 page for location.
  3. Obtain high-quality backlinks: Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your website – getting them from reputable and authoritative websites can help improve the credibility and authority of your website in the eyes of search engines.
  4. Encourage reviews: Encourage customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business listing or on social media. Positive reviews can help improve the credibility and trustworthiness of your business in the eyes of potential customers.
  5. Get local citations or NAP (Name, address, and Phone). These details should be visible in the footer of your website or in a dedicated page, and you should submit your directory URL on any website that will allow you to create such citations. More specifically, think of Facebook Pages and other online business directories.

Build backlinks to your directory website.

Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to yours.

It’s telling Google that other trustworthy sites deem you worthy of a link, which helps increase your website’s authority, trustworthiness, and visibility in search engine results.

Here are some tips for link building:

  • Reach out to influencers and industry experts in your directory’s niche: Influencers and industry experts are people who have a large following or presence in your industry. Reach out to them and ask if they would be willing to link to your website. For example, if you’re running a directory of restaurants in Seattle, reach out to local food bloggers or chefs for potential links. 
  • Create useful and shareable content: People are more likely to link to useful, informative, or entertaining content. Try creating blog posts, videos, and infographics that can be easily shared across the web. 
    • For example, Yelp has a dedicated blog site divided into three categories: News, Businesses (tips for businesses), and Community. They have a fourth called “Life at Yelp” where they share their culture and what’s happening at the company. You could do something similar to set yourself apart from the competition.
  • Dabble in guest posts: Guest posts are another proactive backlinking strategy. These are blog posts written by you and posted on another website. It’s a great way to get quality backlinks, as the website you’re posting on is likely authoritative and trustworthy in your directory’s niche.
  • Participating in online forums and communities can help you get your website noticed by potential customers and other industry experts. It’s also a great way to share your knowledge, build relationships, and get backlinks from other websites. We’re talking about platforms like Reddit (subreddits in your niche), Quora, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and other industry-related forums.

Track and study the numbers to tweak your SEO strategy

By analyzing website traffic, leads, and sales data, directory businesses can determine the ROI of their SEO efforts, identify areas of their website that need improvement, and stay up-to-date with industry trends.

You can use free analytics tools like Google Analytics or paid ones like SEMrush and Ahrefs if you want more robust capabilities like keyword position tracking, data on backlinks, and competitor analysis.

Here are a few metrics you’ll want to keep an eye on:

  • Traffic (i.e., total visitors, unique visitors, and pageviews)
  • Keyword rankings
  • Time spent on page
  • Bounce rates
  • Organic search traffic
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Conversion rate

By understanding the effectiveness of your SEO efforts, you can make adjustments and ensure that you’re taking full advantage of your directory business’s potential.

Start off on the right foot with GeoDirectory.

That was a lot, right? SEO for online directory businesses requires a robust strategy that touches on many different aspects, but if you can master them all – you’ll be well on your way to success.

Remember, consistency is key, so keep up with the latest trends and always be on the lookout for opportunities to enhance your directory business’s SEO.

If you’re looking for a great solution to help get your directory website off the ground, consider using GeoDirectory.

It’s a powerful WordPress plugin that helps you create robust, SEO-friendly directory sites.

It is mobile-friendly and comes with built-in features like mobile search, responsive design, and a highly proficient database for speedy search results.

Ready to give it a go?

You can get GeoDirectory here today:


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Published by Paolo

Paolo Tajani, co-founder and marketing lead at AyeCode LTD, works alongside his business partner Stiofan to develop key WordPress plugins such as GeoDirectory, UsersWP, and GetPaid. Starting his journey with WordPress in 2008, Paolo joined forces with Stiofan O'Connor in 2011. Together, they have been instrumental in creating and marketing a range of successful themes and plugins, now actively used by over 100,000 websites.