Online business directories are very effective at driving traffic to local businesses. Many experts believe such directories are as essential in 2015 as an ad in a phone book was in past decades.
According to Business News Daily, research has shown that as many as 92 percent of customers use online directories to search for local businesses. This can take the form of broad searches, such as browsing local restaurants to find a new place. They can also be more specific inquiries, such as looking up the address or phone number. Some online directories list business hours as well. Stores and restaurants may benefit from listing their own website in the directory and providing information about menu or inventory items to help entice potential customers.
Online directory listings also have more tangential benefits. Small businesses often struggle with search engine optimization, which can make them difficult to find. Listings in online directories can help improve the business's page ranking, helping more customers find the page. Positive reviews on directory sites can also make new customers more inclined to try a new business. Some companies offer coupons or other incentives if their customers leave a good review, although this may be prohibited by some directories' terms of service so business owners should make sure it is allowed.