If you have ever done a Google search for a business in your local area (let's face it, who hasn't?), you may notice three specific, for the lack of a better word, 'things' that come up. First up, there'll be a small map on the top of the search results list with numbered balloons outlining where the businesses are located in that area. Secondly, you'll get specific business websites that come up in response to your query. Thirdly, you may notice that some of the search results aren't business sites, but are directories in which the business has been listed.
Think of online directories as your Yellow or local White Pages, except online and not nearly as handy when it comes to doubling as a door stopper. Businesses can opt to be listed in online directories with their addresses, phone numbers and email and website addresses.
Online directories can be free like HotFrog, or offer various payment options ranging from free to sponsorship like AussiePages. They can also be general business directories where any business can be listed and searched for categorically, or they can be industry specific.
Can you say 'search engine optimisation'?
One of the simplest means of optimising your website so that it is appealing to the Google search engine, is to create links to and from your website to other websites. Now, creating links to other websites from your website is so easy, it's child's play. Creating meaningful back-links to your website from other websites however, is a whole different kettle of fish.
We've already warned you to steer clear of registering with websites that can be considered to be link farms - Google is on a permanent joyride when it comes to penalising sites that link up to link farms. Unfortunately, this makes it a bit of a Catch-22 situation with creating back-links as it doesn't leave much option other than exploiting guest blogging, and even this can get tedious at times.
Online directories lovingly solve this problem for us. By registering with an online directory, and listing your website address as part of your business information, you are creating back-link to your website that Google considers meaningful. It really is sheer genius, and then some.
So go on and get out there now. Register with as many online directories as you can afford to - you simply can't afford not to.