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How to Attract Customers To Your Website
by
© Happy Contractor, 2010, All Rights Reserved. No portion of this book may be copied for the
use of another without explicit written permission of Happy Contractor. This book was authored
by Happy Contractor.
How to Attract Customers To Your Website
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 -- Overview
Chapter 2 -- Search Engine Optimization
Chapter 3 -- How to Get Backlinks from Directories
Chapter 4 – List of Directories
Chapter 5 – Tips on Directory Submissions
Chapter 6 – How to Find More Directories
Directory Submission Record Example
Attachments
Directory Submission Record – Word Document
How to Attract Customers To Your Website
Chapter 1 -- Overview
Your company needs a good website if it’s going to succeed at Internet
marketing. But having the best website in the world will do you no good if nobody
sees it. So, after creating a good website, your next task is getting people to find
it. It’s a simple equation, really -- the more potential customers who visit your
website, the more jobs your company is likely to get.
This chapter is a quick overview of many of the ways to attract customers to your
website. Some are free, and some cost time and/or money. If you read through
this first chapter, you’ll be oriented to all the possibilities. You will also get a basic
understanding of how search engines like Google rank websites and how visitors
find websites.
We recommend that you read about these methods, particularly the ones in the
first section of this chapter: Easy/Free. But if you get antsy and want to start on a
step-by-step program right away, you can skip the rest of this first chapter for
now and go on Chapter 3. It gives directions for a simple way that you can boost
the visibility of your website and bring in more visitors. You may want to come
back to the first two chapters when you start wondering about how search engine
rankings work and why you’re doing the program in Chapter 3.
Easy/Free Methods: Advertise Your Website Address
All of the methods in this section take little time or money but are very effective in
getting people to know about your website. Here’s the # 1 rule of promoting your
business website -- Put your website address wherever you put your phone
number. For example:
Ads -- Always include your website address in your Yellow Pages ad, newspaper
ad, other print ads, TV or radio ads, etc.
Stationery -- Include your website address on all printed materials such as
business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, contracts, brochures, etc.
T-shirts, Caps, and Uniforms -- Put your website address (and make sure that
it’s big enough to read easily) on the back of your company T-shirts. Or put your
website address across the front of a company cap.
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Signage -- Add your website address to your company truck or van signage in
order to let the general public know about it.
Voice Mail Message -- Add you website address to your business voice mail
message. Here’s a sample message:
Hello, and thank you for calling (Your Company). Our office hours are 8 am
to 5 pm Monday – Friday. Please leave you name, number, and any
message you wish at the sound of the tone and we’ll get back to you at the
beginning of the next working day. You can also find out more about our
company, or you can schedule an appointment by going to our website at
www.YourCompany.com. Thanks a lot, and have a great day!
E-Mails – You can automatically add your website address to the end of every email that you send. For example, if your e-mail program is
YourName@yahoo.com, click on “Mail Options” and then click on “Signature.”
This gives you the option to add a “signature,” a few lines automatically tacked
on to the end of every e-mail that you send. Many people include a motto and
contact info in their signature. You can include your company name and website
address in yours.
Conversations -- Make sure you and all your staff know your website address
and are ready to invite any new or existing customers to visit it.
Time/Money Methods for Drawing Visitors
The methods in this section will take time or money or both. But if you spend your
time and money wisely, the new customers attracted to your company will be well
worth it.
Pay-Per-Click Internet Advertising – Ever notice the “sponsored ads” that
show up when you search with Google? These are pay-per-click ads. Search in
Google, for example, for “dog chews” and here’s a screenshot of the page that
comes up.
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The top three websites that Google shows you on a light pink background are
labeled “sponsored links” in fine print, top right. The first of these links is for
“Quality Natural Dog Chews.” If you click on “Quality Natural Dog Chews,” you’ll
be taken to the website www.dogcatsupplies.com so that you can find out more
about their dog chews. The owner of this website pays Google for every click and
trip to their site. Over to the extreme right are eight more websites, also labeled
“sponsored links,” in the top left of the column. These are also pay-per-click ads.
The other two major search engines, Yahoo and Bing (formerly MSN), also offer
pay-per-click ads.
Let’s say you’re an electrician in Las Vegas and you have a brand new website.
Within hours of setting up a pay-per-click ad, searchers who type in “electrician
Los Vegas,” can see your ad at the top of the page. They can click on your ad
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and arrive at your website. The more you pay Google, the higher your ad will
display on the page.
There are other ways to rank high on Google pages without paying for clicks, but
these usually take your time or the time of someone that you hire. These
methods also can take weeks, months, or even over a year to get you towards
the top of Google. In Chapter 2 you’ll learn about a method that you can do
yourself that should eventually give a strong boost to your rankings.
Most companies which use pay-per-click ads ask professionals to set up their ad.
While this is an additional cost, it saves trying to figure out how to do it. It can
also save money in the long run because a properly set-up ad eliminates paying
for clicks that are unlikely to result in sales. For example, an electrician will want
to avoid paying for clicks by young hopefuls who are looking for electrical
training.
If you think that you might be interested in a pay-per-click ad, give us at
HappyContractor a call at (800) 990-5811 to find out more.
Contractor / Home Inspector Websites -- Find out if any of the general
contractors and/or home inspectors that you work with have a page on their
website where they recommend contracting companies like yours to their
customers. If so, ask them if your business website link could be added to their
referral list. Some contractor or home inspection companies may charge a fee for
being listed. If it’s a big company with a lot of visitor traffic, it may pay off with
customers calling you.
Angie’s List – A listing in Angie’s List can generate many high quality customer
calls if you do quality work at competitive prices. Angie’s List gives contractors
“report cards” graded by their customers. Homeowners pay an annual fee for
membership, giving them access to the report cards so that they can find the
best home improvement contractors.
If Angie’s List is available in your area, your company might already be listed.
One of your customers could be a member and may already have written a
review of your work. To find out, you can call Angie’s List toll free at (866) 7832973 and ask. If you’re not listed, you can register your company for free by
going to www.company.angieslist.com.
Angie’s List also offers paid advertising for companies that meet their
requirements. This can be a very effective means of generating calls from high
quality customers.
Craig’s List -- Craig's List is available in some areas. This website allows
businesses to post on-line classified ads with links to their websites. While the
ads are free, one downside is that you will need to re-post your ad every few
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days. In addition, the results from Craig’s List may be minimal, and many of the
calls you receive may be from customers who are doing a lot of bargain hunting.
Nevertheless, it’s worth a shot to try out Craig’s List and see how it works for you.
Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines – You can modify a website or
“optimize” it so that searchers find it more readily when they type into Google
“electrician” , “plumber San Francisco” or similar terms. This is Search Engine
Optimization (SEO). The next chapter, Chapter 2, gives a simple explanation of
SEO. Then, Chapter 3 gives you step-by-step instructions for an SEO method
that you can do yourself.
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How to Attract Customers To Your Website
Chapter 2 -- Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means that you are Optimizing your website
so that Search Engines (such as Google) will consider your website to be
relevant to people who are searching for companies like yours. The objective is
to get the search engine to place your website high on the first page of the
results it shows searchers. Ideally, your website should be among the top three
listed. These are the websites which get the most visits.
As a note, about 70% of all searches are done with Google, 15% with Yahoo,
and 10% with Bing (formerly MSN). The other 5% of searches are done with a
large number of less popular search engines like AOL, Ask, Search, etc.
Bing and Yahoo are in the process of merging. Sometime in the near future,
Bing’s search engine will replace Yahoo’s. At that point, Google and Bing will
remain as the two most used search engines. Since Google is the most popular
search engine and Bing operates similarly, we’ll generally mention only Google
from now on when talking about search engines.
How Search Engines Rank Your Website
When someone who lives in San Francisco is looking for a plumber, they can go
to www.Google.com and type in various search terms like plumber or plumber
San Francisco or licensed plumbing contractor. Google tries to find the most
relevant websites for the search term.
If you’re a plumber in San Francisco, you want Google to consider your website
as the most relevant and to list your website above all the other plumbing
websites. You want Google to rank your website Number 1 on Page 1 of their
Search Engine Result Pages. This requires various Search Engine Optimization
(SEO) techniques.
First you’ll need to improve your website so that its text and images (called
“content”) are particularly useful to people searching for plumbers in San
Francisco. Improving the website is called “on-site” SEO. There are also SEO
techniques, like getting other websites to link to yours, that don’t directly involve
changes to your website and are called “off-site” SEO.
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On-Site SEO
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Google is sending out electronic “spiders,” little
software programs. Their job is to look at all the websites on the internet, and
then report back to Google what they have learned about these websites. Google
gathers all this information together and feeds it into complex computer formulas
(algorithms). These formulas tell it, for example, which websites are relevant to
the search term plumber San Francisco and which are relevant to the search
term kittens in Chicago.
If a website is called “San Francisco’s Plumber” and has text about plumbing,
pipes, drains, rooting as well as an address in San Francisco and a number of
other mentions of this city name, it will be considered much more relevant to the
search term plumber San Francisco than to the search term kittens in
Chicago. On the other hand, a website called “Cat Adoptions in Chicago” that
has text and photos of kittens, cats, tabbies, and calicos and lists an address in
Chicago won’t be considered relevant to the search term plumber San
Francisco. It will likely rank high if someone types in kittens in Chicago.
Proper on-site SEO requires:
1. Knowledge of the search terms (such as plumber San Francisco) that
potential customers are most likely to type when looking for a business like
yours,
2. Text and images on your website that Google will consider relevant to those
search terms and at the same time will invite customers to call you,
3. Programming techniques that make these website text and images readily
visible to Google spiders, and
4. Programming techniques which communicate the relevance of the website
directly to Google spiders beyond the text and images visible to visitors.
Ideally, much on-site SEO would be done as a website is built. However, the
SEO of existing websites can be improved at any time to raise the site’s rankings
in search engines.
Off-Site SEO
Once a website has been optimized for search engines with on-site SEO, it’s
time to show Google that the website is popular and relevant to lots of people on
the Internet so that it will be ranked high. This is done by off-site SEO.
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As mentioned before, Google rankings are based on computer formulas which
calculate the relevance of a website to a particular search term. A key factor in
these formulas is the “popularity” of the website among those interested in a
particular subject.
For example, how many Chicago Cubs fans think that a website called “Chicago
Cubs Baseball Cards” is relevant to their interests? The main way that Google
figures this out is by counting the number of websites that have bothered to link
to it. If 500 websites about the Chicago Cubs provide visitors with a link to the
website “Chicago Cubs Baseball Cards,” this will tell Google that many website
owners think it’s a very relevant website to people interested in the Cubs. Each of
these links is a “vote” for the website.
The baseball card website will have been fortunate enough to have received 500
links. From the viewpoint of the “Chicago Cubs Baseball Cards” website, these
are called “backlinks.”
Google counts the backlinks and also notes their “quality.” A backlink from a site
called “Chicago Cubs Fan Club” that has hundreds of visitors a day would be a
high quality link for the baseball cards website. A backlink from a website about
bear cubs that has one visitor a day would not be considered high quality by
Google because the site really isn’t relevant or authoritative on the subject of
baseball cards and isn’t very popular either. Its vote doesn’t count for much.
As a note, analyzing backlinks is the innovation that shot Google to the top
among search engines. Google is able to determine the relevance of websites to
searchers by learning how popular these websites are among authoritative,
popular websites on the same subject. Other search engines soon adopted this
innovation and are working on catching up with Google.
Increasing the number of your backlinks, particularly relevant backlinks from
popular sites, is the heart of off-site SEO. The good news is that off-site SEO is
not particularly difficult once you know how. All you really need is to put in the
necessary time or to hire someone who will. Chapter 3 gives you step-by-step
instructions.
Backlinks
Here are the major ways to get backlinks from other websites:
Directories – Directories, for example, YellowPages.com, are similar to print
Yellow Pages. A directory might list all the websites of electricians or
veterinarians or cat adoption agencies in your city. They also give contact info
and a link to each website. Directories provide visitors with lists people, groups,
organizations, and businesses of various types.
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Internet directories almost always include a link to a business’s website, but only
if they can find it or it’s provided to them. Submitting your company’s website to
Internet directories is a simple and common way to accumulate backlinks. This is
the technique covered in Chapter 3 with step-by-step directions.
Local Business Maps – You may have noticed that when you search for an
electrician or plumber in your city, a map comes up showing you where several
are located. For example, here’s the map that comes up if you’re looking for an
electrician in Los Angeles:
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The businesses lettered “A,” “B,” “C,” etc. are called “Local Map” listings. Google,
Yahoo, and Bing all list businesses on Local Maps for free. Click on the business
name and you can see its address, phone number, and a link to its website if it
has one. A listing in Local Maps is another good way to get highly relevant
backlinks. In addition, of course, if you’re high on your Local Maps, you’ll get
visitors clicking on the Map link to your website.
Showing up high on Local Maps is a little trickier than getting listings in
directories. If you would like to improve your rank on your Local Map, give us at
HappyContractor a call at (800) 990-5811.
Blogs – The word “blog” is short for “Web Log” and is a type of website. The idea
is that someone who is interested in politics, for example, might regularly post on
their blog website a “log” of their comments on the political scene.
If you were to create a blog about HVAC, for example, you could post tips that
homeowners might find useful. Visitors could read your tips, comment on them,
and e-mail them to friends. With every tip, you could a include a link to your
company website that would add to its backlink count.
Alternatively, you could add a blog page to your existing website. Even though
the blog is part of your own website, Google would still count links from it to other
parts of your website as backlinks.
Forums – Forums are websites where people with similar interests can join in
discussions. For example, on Electrician Talk, electricians can discuss the best
ways to lay wire or get new customers. They communicate by typing in
messages that are then posted on the forum website for other electricians to
read. Each time you post a message in a forum, you’ll leave a “signature” at the
end of your post which can include a link to your company website. Google would
count these as valuable backlinks.
E-zine Articles – E-zine websites are Internet magazines. They publish lots of
short articles about various subjects. If you type in a search on “how to get rid of
fleas,” for example, very likely a link to an article on fleas in an e-zine will come
up in Google.
Here’s an example of how you can use e-zines to accumulate backlinks. Let’s
say you’re a plumber. You or someone you hire could write an article about
preventing clogs in household drains. Then, you could submit the article for
publication in an e-zine. At the end of the article, the e-zine will allow you to
provide a brief description of the author and a link to your website. This can be a
valuable backlink to your website because it appears in an article relevant to
plumbing.
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Social Networking Websites – Some examples of social networking websites
are Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. These are websites which people visit to
see what their friends are up to and to share news and ideas.
If you join a Social Networking Website, you’ll be given a webpage where you
can post messages and photos for your friends. These messages could include
news about your company, tips, coupons, and also a link to your website. This
link will add to your backlink count and will be a quality link if it’s embedded in
text relevant to your trade. If visitors click on this link, you’ll also get more visitors
to your website.
Visitors to your Social Networking page can add comments that can build up the
relevant content of your webpage. If they have their own Social Networking page,
they can also add links to your Social Networking page or your company website.
If you or someone in your company likes relating to friends or colleagues on the
Internet, check out Social Networking Websites. If you’re interested in a site
where professionals gather, check out Linked In. If you’re interested in site where
people who share particular interests gather, check out Ning.
SEO and the Virtue of Patience
If you’re in a competitive market, SEO takes PATIENCE. It’s a matter of doing a
bit of SEOing week after week and climbing up the pages until you’re on Page 1
and then, doing more SEO week after week, and climbing into one of the top
three spots on Page 1.
In the meantime, customers will give you a call because they’ve heard about your
company and looked up your website, or they clicked on your Pay-Per-Click ad,
or maybe they found a link to your website somewhere else on the Internet. So,
you can still get visitors to your website even without ranking high in search
engines.
SEO Techniques to Avoid
There are many SEO techniques for speeding up the process of getting websites
to link to you. Some are considered “Black Hat,” meaning unethical. If Google
detects Black Hat techniques, it may lower the rankings of a website or even ban
the website from the results it shows searchers. Here’s a list of SEO techniques
considered by Google to be Black Hat. It’s safest to avoid them.
Throw-Away Directories.--Throw-away directories are set up largely or entirely
for the purpose of giving links to businesses who list with them. The directory
invites businesses to create listings and frequently requests payment or a link
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from your business website (a reciprocal link). Throw-away directories also profit
by selling ad space on their website so their pages are often loaded with ads.
They tend to be poorly organized with many types of businesses jumbled
together.
However, there’s no clear-cut line between throw-away directories and legitimate
directories. Throw-away directories are junkier and less inviting to searches by
customers who are looking for businesses. The general rule that Google wants
you to follow is not to pay for a link nor give a reciprocal link.
You may be solicited by services which offer to get you into “hundreds of
directories.” Many of these are likely throw-away directories. It’s not worth paying
to get into these directories and, if reciprocal links are given or money paid for
the link, your rankings could be lowered.
Reciprocal Links – Owners of websites may offer to link to your website if you’ll
link to theirs. That would be giving a reciprocal link, a practice generally frowned
on by Google.
In some situations, reciprocal links are legitimate, however. You might want to
provide your visitors with a link to your wholesale house. Your wholesale house
might want to support you by providing a link to your company’s website. Here
the reciprocal links reflect a legitimate relevant business relationship.
Avoid large-scale and indiscriminate reciprocal linking with unrelated websites.
Paid Links – Don’t pay directories to list your business so that they will link to
your website. There’s one exception to this rule, Yahoo Business Directory, as
noted in Chapter 3.
Google has always said that they don’t allow the practice of buying links, but now
they’re getting better at figuring out who is doing the buying. They’ve warned
recently that they will be penalizing this Black Hat SEO technique more
consistently.
Link Farms – Link Farms are websites that offer to give you links from many
other websites provided that you create a page in your site that links to many
other websites. Link Farms set up a network of inter-linking websites, each one
of which includes a page full of links to other websites. It’s simply a bogus way to
make it appear that your website is extremely popular with other websites.
Creating a page of links to other websites involved in a Link Farm doesn’t work
and can easily get you into trouble with Google.
Hiring a Black Hat SEOer – You may be approached by an SEO expert who
promises to quickly move your site up the Google rankings. It’s important to know
if you can trust that the SEO expert will avoid Black Hat techniques. Black Hat
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techniques for accumulating backlinks can work spectacularly at first. However,
once the search engine checks for SEO tricks, your rankings can plummet and
your site’s reputation with search engines can be damaged.
Google’s sophistication at picking up on Black Hat SEO is increasing all the time.
So, a technique that paid off months or years ago may now simply cause you
trouble.
There are many “White Hat” SEO techniques for accumulating backlinks for your
website. A good way to start is to get your website listed in legitimate directories.
The next chapter gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do this.
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How to Attract Customers To Your Website
Chapter 3 -- How to Get Backlinks from Directories
You can push your website towards the top of Google and other Search Engine
results with Search Engine Optimization (see Chapter 2). Increasing the number
of backlinks from websites that link to yours is one of the most important SEO
techniques.
This is a simple step-by-step method for increasing your backlinks. It takes time
and energy to place backlinks in directories, but the procedure is relatively simple
to learn. Another advantage is that once the directory gives you a backlink, it will
keep working for you for a long time.
What Is an Internet Directory?
A directory is a website that lists businesses of various types. For example,
www.YellowPages.com lists businesses in various categories just like paper
Yellow Pages. Here’s the homepage of this directory www.YellowPages.com.
Customers looking for a contractor can go to www.YellowPages.com, type in
“plumber Denver” and find lots of names of plumbing companies along with their
contact info and a link to their website. The customer clicks on a link and is taken
to a Denver plumber’s website.
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Your website is possibly already in www.YellowPages.com because this directory
searches paper phone books and other sources to fill their webpages with links
to businesses. www.YellowPages.com may also have phoned you and asked
you to buy a larger ad. Just like the paper Yellow Pages, you get a small listing
for free but have to pay for larger ads.
While you may be in www.YellowPages.com, you may never have gotten a
customer as a result of your listing. Few directories will actually send you
customers because few are relied on by customers when they’re looking for a
business. Directories make money by selling ads and in some cases by selling
the opportunity to be listed at all. They don’t make money by sending you
customers.
Occasionally, you will get a customer who clicked on a link to your website in a
directory. But the real value to you is that the directory’s link to your website adds
another “backlink” to your backlink count. In the eyes of Google and other Search
Engines, your backlink count indicates the popularity of your website and the
likelihood that searchers will find it useful. Search Engines place more popular
sites higher in their rankings.
Examples of Other Directories
You may be familiar with http://www.MerchantCircle.com, www.CitySearch.com
and www.SuperPages.com. Like www.Yellowpages.com, these directories list all
types of businesses in various categories. They’re considered “General
Directories.”
Links from General Directories that give the same address and phone number
that appear on your website will tell Google that the phone and address on your
website can be trusted. It also tells Google that your business has been around
long enough to get listed. Google wants to earn the trust of searchers by
directing them to legitimate, established businesses. It counts backlinks from
directories as a vote of confidence by those who should know. So, your first step
is to get into General Directories if you’re not already listed.
After getting listed in General Directories, the next step is to get listed in
directories that specialize in contractors or plumbers, electricians, etc. Then, the
link is coming from a site closely related to yours and, in Google’s view, is a more
valuable “vote.”
Here’s an example of a homepage for the directory, www.USA-Electricians.com.
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This would be an excellent directory for an electrician to get listed in. Even better
for an electrician in New York City would be a directory called “New York CityElectricians.com.” Then, Google would think, this guy really is a New York City
electrician and should come up in the results when a customer is searching for
one.
Which Directories Should You List In?
With one exception, we recommend only free directories, ones that don’t charge
you to get listed. The one exception is Yahoo Business Directory
http://dir.yahoo.com, which for some reason, Google considers a valuable
directory and doesn’t consider as a paid link.
We’ve attached a list of General Directories and a list of directories of
contractors. We recommend that you submit your information to directories in the
sequence that they appear on these two lists. The sequence reflects, in a general
way, the importance of the directory and the ease of submitting to it.
Can’t You Pay Services to Get You Into Directories?
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You may have seen some services on the Internet that say they’ll submit your
website address to thousands of directories. Right about now, you might be
wondering if that wouldn’t be a good idea.
Sometimes the service will submit your information with software. Sometimes a
real person, probably in Asia or somewhere like that, will type your info into a
form. However, most of these are so-called “throw-away” directories. They will
not be considered valuable backlinks by Google. We’ve tried this approach and if
it helps at all in rankings, it doesn’t give a visible boost. You would particularly
want to avoid paying the directory or putting a link on your website to the
directory. These techniques can lower your rankings with Google.
You want to be in quality directories, many of which are related to contracting,
that prohibit entries by computer software and require that their submission forms
are hand-typed.
There are some premium services that are selective about their directories and
hand-submit. If you’re interested, you can give us a call about this.
How Many Directories Should You Submit To?
Submit to as many directories as you have time for. The more backlinks to your
website, the higher you can rank in the Search Engines. But don’t submit to them
all at once. You want the Search Engines to see natural-looking growth in
backlinks, and not believe that you just decided to SEO your website. As a
guesstimate, the most directories that you should submit to in a month is 25,
spread out over the month.
Directories don’t add your site the moment that you submit nor does Google find
the links immediately, which further spreads out the timing of your increase in
backlinks.
To create natural-looking growth of your directory entries, it’s also important to
vary the text that you submit to each directory. After you’ve done a few
submissions to get the hang of it, you can read more about this in Chapter 5.
Will All Directories Accept My Listing?
The websites in your List of Directories are higher quality. Many care about their
listings and will reject submissions that would lower their quality. Here are two
quick tips:
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ƒ
Write your listing like you were a staff writer for the directory,
describing your company in a pretty objective way. Avoid hype, ALL
CAPS, and exclamation marks!!!!
ƒ
Include the name of your trade and the city where you get most of
your business at the beginning and the end of the description of your
company.
More on these points in the Chapter 5.
8 Steps for Getting Backlinks from Directories
Step 1: Create an e-mail address especially for directories.
When you give directories your e-mail address, you can expect e-mails back.
Give a valid e-mail address because many directories will send you a verification
e-mail asking you to reply before they list your company. However, give an e-mail
address that you’re pleased to receive spam at, not your main address. You can
create a new free e-mail address for yourself at Yahoo or Gmail.
Step 2: Find the List of Directories in Chapter 4.
Also make some copies of the Directory Submission Record. These can either be
digital or paper. Use these pages to keep track of which directories you’ve made
submissions to. If you leave the original blank, you can make more copies as
needed.
Step 3: Go to the first directory Internet address on the List of Directories.
Step 4: Find out if you’re already listed.
Here’s an example of a homepage of a directory website called “USAElectricians.com:”
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To see if you’re already listed, click on the tab at the top left called “Find a
Business.” The wording may vary with different directories. Click on this tab and
a Search Box will come up. Type your company name, city, and state to see if
the directory has already found your company. If it has, check over your listing to
see that it’s accurate. If you’re happy with the listing, write “By (today’s date)” on
your List of Directories under “Entry Date.” For example: By Apr. 30, 2010.
If the listing is inaccurate, particularly if the contact info is incorrect, look around
the page to see if there’s a way to edit your listing. You want your contact info to
be accurate because Google will verify the contact info on your website by
checking it against what directories say about you. They should match.
The page might say something like, “Edit” or “Do you own this website?” or
“Claim this listing.” Most directories will want you to identify yourself before you’re
allowed to edit the listing.
Another possibility is that if you return to the homepage, you’ll find a button that
says, “Advertisers Log-In” or something that suggests that as the business
owner, you’ll be allowed to make an entry. In the case of USA.-Electricians.com,
you could click on “My Profile” or “List Your Business” towards the top right.
Some directories are not set up to allow editing of an entry. That’s something to
keep in mind when you submit your websites to directories – check your
submissions before you submit. On the other hand, there are hundreds of
21
directories on the Internet. If a few of your entries are inaccurate or aren’t as
good as you’d like, there are many more directories that you submit to.
Step 5: Create a listing.
If you aren’t yet listed in the directory or aren’t happy with your listing, particularly
if your contact info is wrong and you can’t change it, submit a new listing.
Look for somewhere on the homepage of the directory where it says something
like “List Your Business (as in this directory),” “List Your Site,” “List Your URL”
(website address),” or “Advertise With Us.” Sometimes it’s obvious where to click,
sometimes not. Look high and low – sometimes it’s at the very bottom of the
page.
On USA-Electrician.com, shown in Step 4, click top center on “List Your
Business.” When you do, here’s the page that comes up:
First, fill in all of the required blanks, the ones with a red asterisk *.
BUSINESS NAME (sometimes called “Title”) Here is what we often type in for
our electrical company: The Electric Connection -Your Electrician in Los Angeles.
This is usually the title of the entry that visitors will see. Often the directory turns
this into the link that visitors can click on to go to your website. Some directories
22
allow no more than your business name and will mention that. In any event, your
title should be limited to about 50 characters.
STREET ADDRESS The submission form for USA-Electrician.com above asks
for a physical address but doesn’t require it. Some directories require a physical
address before they will process your submission. It’s desirable to fill in a
physical address, even if not required, because it allows Search Engines to verify
the address that you list on your website.
Let’s say that you’re a plumber in the Boston area and you want to attract
customers who search on “plumber Boston.” It’s best if you give the directory a
Boston address. Your directory listing with a Boston address will be third party
verification to Google that you’re a Boston plumber. It’s also desirable not to
include a Unit Number as such numbers suggest that the address may be a
mailbox rather than the physical address of your office.
PHONE NUMBER Always type in the same contact info that appears on your
website. List your local phone number. If there’s a space for another number, you
can add your toll free number, but a local phone number will help Google verify
that you really work out of the neighborhood that you claim to.
WEBSITE Type in your website address, sometimes called “URL” or “Domain
Name.” Put it in as: www.YourWebsite.com or http://www.YourWebsite.com,
exactly the way the directory requests. Occasionally, a directory wants a forward
slash / at the end, for example, www.YourWebsite.com/. Do not use a website
address that re-directs to another site. Do not use website addresses that have
something after a forward slash, for example,
www.YourWebsite.com/AboutUs.php (unless the directory says “deep links” or
“interior pages” are allowed). Follow the directions exactly. This is the hot item –
you want the directory to link to your website address.
BUSINESS DESCRIPTION We type in something like this for our electrical
company:
Providing residential and commercial electrical contracting services in and
around Los Angeles including panel upgrades, home lighting installation,
house rewires, and other electrical services. Your licensed electrical
contractor for Los Angeles.
There is usually a limit on the number of characters (including letters,
numbers, symbols, and spaces) that you can type in the description. A
directory may limit the characters in the description to 100, 150, 250, 500, or
some other number. The description above for The Electric Connection is 247
characters. If the directory tells you there’s a limit but doesn’t tell you the
number of characters that you’ve typed, you can figure it out by trial and error
when the directory doesn’t accept your entry.
23
Or you can open up a Word document and type your description there first.
This will also give you an opportunity to run Spell Check. Highlight your
description and click on “Tools” in the Menu Bar. Then, click on ”Word Count”
for the number of characters including spaces.
If you write in Word, save your description as a Word Doc along with a note
as to its length. You can speed up the submission process by recycling your
Business Descriptions when submitting to later directories. As you’ll see in the
Tips chapter, it will be desirable to be able to submit from among a variety of
Business Descriptions rather than using the same Description in every
directory.
PASSWORD, USER NAME The directory will usually ask you for a User
Name and password. The submission form for USA-Electrician.com (above)
asks only for a password. If your contact info changes later, many directories
will allow you to edit your entry. Write your password and User Name on
your Directory Submissions Record (attached).
CONTACT PERSON Many websites require the name of a Contact Person.
This one doesn’t. Give the name of a receptionist or someone else who is
contactable. This name is sometimes visible to the public who read your listing,
sometimes not.
E-MAIL ADDRESS Give a valid e-mail address that you’re also willing to
receive spam at. See Step 1.
CATEGORY Most directories will put your entry into a category, just as paper
Yellow Pages list HVAC contractors in one category and plumbers in another.
USA-Electrician lists only electricians so doesn’t ask about your category.
When a directory asks for a category, you might need to click on a sequence of
selections, each more refined than the prior one. For example, you might need to
click on:
businesses→ services→ construction→ home improvement→ electrical
Other sequences of categories might include “home and garden” or your state or
city. If it’s not obvious which category you belong in, you can click various options
to see what’s available. Sometimes you’ll fit nicely into a category, sometimes
not. Make an effort to choose the best category available because it will help you
get accepted into the directory. Also, if visitors use the directory, they will be
more likely to find you.
KEYWORDS USA-Electrician.com (above) doesn’t ask for a list of “keywords,”
but some directories do. These are the words that visitors might type into Google
24
when searching for your type of business, for example, “electrician Las Vegas.” If
you’re an electrician in Las Vegas, your keywords might be: electrician Las
Vegas, electrical contractor, lighting, house rewires. List each keyword only once
and punctuate your list as the directory requests – separating them with commas
or whatever. Again, you can write your keywords in Word and cut and paste it
into the directory submission form.
OTHER INFO Some directories (such as this one) ask you to select the option
of a “Free Listing,“ as seen at the bottom left of the page. Other directories ask
you to make this choice before you get to the submission form. Sometimes the
website will warn that Free Listings take longer to get entered into the directory.
However, paying for links is considered “Black Hat SEO” and, if discovered, can
lower your Google rankings or get your website dropped off the results entirely
(“banned”).
If you see little boxes with checkmarks, read what they’re for. You might want to
uncheck a box that’s already checked by holding your mouse over it and clicking
on it. Often, these will be for adding you to mailing lists for ads.
On the USA Electrician.com page, you’ll see there’s a box already checked that
says “Allow the editorial team to enhance my profile.” Even if it sounds beneficial,
it’s still a good idea to check it out. Click on What is this?
Some directories will give you an estimate of how long it will take them to enter
your listing. If so, figure out the projected entry date and enter it in your Directory
Submissions Record.
Step 6: What if the directory asks for a reciprocal link?
Some directories ask you to put a link to them on your website, a “reciprocal link.”
In the attached List of Directories, few or none ask for this. Google considers it
“Black Hat” SEO and may at some point lower your ranking if they figure out that
you’re trading links. Ignore requests for reciprocal links. Few directories that
request it actually require it even when they say that they do. Go ahead with the
next steps of the submission. If it turns out that the submission isn’t accepted
without the reciprocal link, skip it and go on to the next directory.
Step 7: Review.
Check carefully for spelling, accuracy of contact info, grammar, etc. You may
be allowed to preview how your entry will look. If so, definitely do so and edit.
Once you’re entered into a directory, some will allow editing, some won’t.
Step 7: Click Submit.
Before you click Submit, you may be asked to decipher a weird code or fill in
the answer to 1+1. This requirement is called a “captcha,” based on the word
“capture.” The directory is checking to make sure you’re a human being.
They’re trying to trip up software programs which might be creating
computerized submissions that are incapable of captcha tasks. Occasionally,
25
you’ll find directories where the task is also impossible for a human – the
captcha code is truly undecipherable. If this happens, skip the directory and
go on to the next.
Click Submit, generally at the bottom of the form. Every once in a while, you
can see your entry in the directory as soon as you click Submit because
you’re typing right onto the page that your listing will appear on. However,
generally your submission will go through a review period. Higher quality
directories are monitored by a human being who reviews your submission to
make sure that you’ve entered the correct category and your entry looks
legitimate. That’s why they’re high quality. The kind of directory that Google
values is one that is organized so that visitors can actually find tradesmen in
the correct category.
Step 8: Check to see if the directory listed your company.
Check your e-mail every day or so. You will often receive an e-mail from
directories that you’ve submitted to. Sometimes, the e-mail will just tell you that
they received your submission. Sometimes, they’ll ask you to click a link to
confirm that you’re the one who completed the submission before they enter you
into their directory.
Many directories take about a month to enter your listing, though some take
many months, and some may never enter it at all. These are free directories
and ya take yer chances.
If you wrote down an estimated date based on the directory’s review period,
you’ll know when to check the directory for your new listing. Otherwise, wait
about a month before checking. Go to the directory and look for your listing by
clicking on “Find a Business” or a similar button, just as you did in Step 3.
This time, hopefully, your business will come up. If so, Congratulations! If not,
check back later.
When you find your entry, note the date on your Directory Submission
Record.
26
How to Attract Customers To Your Website
Chapter 4 – List of Directories
Easiest/Most Reliable General Directories:
About Us
AOL Yellow Pages
Bing
City Voter
CitySearch
DexKnows
Genie Knows
Hot Frog
Ibegin
InsiderPages
http://www.aboutus.org
http://www.AOLYellowPages.com
https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx
http://www.CityVoter.com
http://www.CitySearch.com
www.dexknows.com
www.genieknows.com
http://www.hotfrog.com
www.ibegin.com/directory/us/california/los-angeles
http://www.InsiderPages.com
Intuit
http://business.intuit.com/directory/
Judy’s Book
Kudzu
Local Google
Local.com
MacRaes Blue Book
Magic Yellow
Manta
Merchant Circle
Mojopages
Open Directory
Open List
Rate It All
Superpages
ThomasNet
Trust Link (Better Business Bureau site)
Where2Go
Yahoo Local
Yellow Book
Yellow Bot
Yellow Pages
Yelp
Zoom Info
http://www.judysbook.com
http://www.kudzu.com
www.google.com/local/add
http://www.Local.com
http://www.macraesbluebook.com
http://www.magicyellow.com/Add_Your_Business.cfm
http://www.manta.com
http://www.merchantcircle.com
www.mojopages.com
http://www.dmoz.org
http://www.openlist.com
http://www.rateitall.com
http://www.Superpages.com
http://promoteyourbusiness.thomasnet.com
http://www.trustlink.org
http://www.where2go.com
http://local.yahoo.com
www.yellowbook.com
http://www.Yellowbot.com
http://www.YellowPages.com
http://www.Yelp.com
http://www.zoominfo.com
Construction & Contractor Directories:
Abi Real Estate
Building Trades Directory
http://www.abireal.com/how-to-submit/
http://www.buildingtradesdir.com
Contractor US
http://contractor.us/submit.html
Great Possibilities
http://www.greatpossibilities.com
Home Plan-It
http://www.homeplan-it.com/
Local Home Expo
http://localhomeexpo.com/ContractorsShowroomsSubmission.aspx
27
How to Attract Customers To Your Website
Chapter 5 – Tips on Directory Submissions
Try submitting to a few directories to get the hang of it. Then you’re ready to
speed up your submissions and also improve their usefulness by following the
tips in this chapter.
Write Your Titles and Descriptions in Advance
If you write Titles and Descriptions on a Word Doc, you can cut and paste them
into directory submission forms. This has advantages. You can:
1) Edit carefully, including running Spell Check.
2) Create descriptions of your company which have different character
lengths. You can count characters or words with the Word Count feature
in Tools in your M/S Word Menu Bar.
Writing in advance allows you to create a catalog of descriptions that are different
lengths. Then, you can cut and paste what you need into each directory.
Vary Titles and Descriptions
Your Titles and Descriptions should be at least slightly different for each
directory. Why? This suggests to Google that your entries were created by the
directories themselves. Of course, sometimes you’ll find this has happened – the
directory has created an entry for you. Google prefers this because it wants to
know what the world thinks of your company, not that an SEOer is getting
backlinks for you.
Google and the other Search Engines are always increasing their sophistication
in finding out whether your website is getting backlinks because other people
truly consider your site valuable or because you’re a good SEOer. You can
expect this trend to continue. So, make your entries in directories as “organic”
and natural as possible, as if the directory itself created your entry.
To give an example of varying, first here’s one Title and Description for our
electrical company, The Electric Connection:
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BUSINESS NAME
The Electric Connection-Your Electrician in Los Angeles
DESCRIPTION
Providing residential and commercial electrical contracting services in and
around Los Angeles including panel upgrades, home lighting installation,
house rewires, and other electrical services. Your licensed electrical
contractor for Los Angeles.
Variation:
BUSINESS NAME
The Electric Connection-Los Angeles Electrician
DESCRIPTION
Residential and commercial electrician serving the Los Angeles area since
1979. Services include: home lighting, panel upgrades, and all other
electrical installations and repairs. Your licensed electrician in Los
Angeles.
You can change the words, the order of the words, and/or the content.
Use Keywords in the Title and Description
Keywords are the words your customers will type into Google or other Search
Engines when looking for your type of service in your city. For example, “plumber
San Diego.” If possible, fit your keywords into:
1) Title or Name that you include in your submission. It’s great if your
company name is, for example, “San Diego Plumber.” Our company name
is The Electric Connection, so we add a tag whenever the directory allows
it: The Electric Connection-Los Angeles Electrician.
2) Put your keywords at the start of your Description and again at the end.
We’ve done that in both of the descriptions for The Electric Connection
shown above.
The more often Google sees that a website is talking about plumbers in San
Diego (because that’s what you put in your entry) and then links to your website,
the more that Google will think your website is relevant when searchers type in
“plumber San Diego.”
29
What Are Your Keywords?
You can read lots of Internet articles about how to figure out what customers are
likely to type to find you. Later, you may want to put some time into this for your
particular company in your particular city. For now, you may wish to follow our
general research results. Many customers who are looking for a plumber in, let’s
say San Diego, will type one of these three “search terms”:
plumber San Diego
San Diego plumber
plumber in San Diego
The search terms are listed in the order of the frequency with which they’re
typed, with “plumber San Diego” being by far the most frequent. If you’re an
electrical contractor in San Diego, substitute the word “electrician” and you have
your keywords. (Most homeowners do not type in “electrical contractor,” though
general contractors looking for a commercial electrician might.)
It’s a little more complicated for an HVAC contractor because there are so many
possibilities – furnaces, A/C, air conditioning, HVAC, etc . We’ve found that these
are the best keywords:
heating and air conditioning San Diego
San Diego heating and air conditioning
heating and air conditioning in San Diego
Use Related Keywords in Your Description
If a directory entry for your plumbing company uses the words “San Diego
plumber” and then also talks about leaks, plugged drains, and rooting, the
words in darker type are called “related keywords.” Search Engines would expect
that if you’re really a plumber in San Diego, you’ll do things about leaks, plugged
drains, and rooting. Your Description should naturally include these sorts of
related keywords.
Avoid Hype and Ad Copy in Your Description
The directory is more likely to give you a free listing if it reads like one of their
staff writers wrote it for the benefit of visitors. Your company Description should
give a somewhat objective-sounding company description without hype, ALL
CAPS, and exclamation marks!!!!
30
Omit Information That Might Change
Directories don’t want to include information about prices or specials. They want
a listing for your company that will be valid for a long time.
Omit Contact Information from Your Description
The directory will ask for your contact information elsewhere in its submission
form and will list it as part of their entry for your company.
Use Good English
If you write your entry’s title and description in Word first, you’ll have a chance to
check grammar and spelling. If that’s not sufficient, ask someone to proofread it.
Use usual capitalization. Many directories don’t like all caps or capitalization of
the first letter of each word. Your entry in the directory is more likely to be
accepted if it’s in good English. In addition, it will represent your company well
should it be in a directory that your customers visit.
Trouble? Call HappyContractor at (800) 990-5811 and ask
for Wendy.
31
How to Attract Customers To Your Website
Chapter 6 – How to Find More Directories
After working your way through the entire list of directories that we’ve provided
for you, you should continue submitting to other directories. These should relate
to your trade and, if possible, target your city.
One of the easiest ways to find such directories is to search on Google for your
trade in your city, and then see which of your competitors come up first on
Google maps. Since it makes sense that the companies positioned highest on
the maps would have submitted their business listing to the most relevant
directories, find out which directories they’ve submitted to and submit your
company to the same ones. Here are step-by-step instructions:
Step 1: Enter Your Keywords into Google
Search on Google by entering your trade along with your city and state in the
Google search bar. In this example, we’ve entered: electrician Los Angeles
32
Step 2: Find the Map
Scroll down to the Map that shows electricians in Los Angeles. It will look
something like the map pictured above.
Step 3: Find a High-Ranking Competitor’s Directories
You want to find out which directories the competitor in Rank A submitted to.
Click the “reviews” or “more information” link located just below this company’s
name. If you click directly onto the company name, you’ll probably go to the
company’s website rather than to the Google page with the information you need.
Once you’re on the page with the customer reviews and other information for the
Rank A company, scroll down until you see a section just below the customer
reviews called More about this place. Now you’re looking at many of the
directories that the company is listed in. This section will look something like this:
Step 4: Submit to Directories
The very first listing is usually the company’s website (rather than a directory), so
start with the next one. When you find a directory that you haven’t yet submitted
to, copy the website address (URL) and paste it into your web browser. Click and
33
you’ll be at that directory. Make your submission and enter it in your Directory
Submission Record.
Then, continue down the list of directories for your competitor in Rank A. When
you’ve submitted to all of this competitor’s directories, move on to directories that
your competitor in Rank B appears in.
As you work your way down the list, you’ll find that some directories are free to
list with and that others require payment or demand reciprocal links. As
mentioned in Chapter 2, avoid paid directories and do not give reciprocal links as
Google has a rule against these practices.
You can continue to submit to directories until you run out of ones that you’re
interested in. So long as you keep the number down to 25 a month, you will be
continuing to accumulate backlinks. Your competitors may be trying to
accumulate backlinks also, so it’s important to continue to work on your SEO.
If you have questions, call Wendy at HappyContractor (800) 990-5811.
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You can use a copy of this form to record the directories to which you’ve submitted your website. See the example below.
To download a copy of this form as a Word Document, click here.
DIRECTORY SUBMISSIONS RECORD
by
HappyContractor.com
My Website Address _www.MyCompanyWebsite.com_____________________
Name of Directory
Example Directory
Directory Internet Address
Date
Submitted
User
Name
Password
www.ExampleDirectory.com
2/15/10
JoHan
1234
35
E-Mail Address
Entered in This
Directory
Jo@yahoo.com
Projected
Entry
Date
3/15/10
Actual
Entry
Date
By
4/3/15

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