Learn to create business directories for SEO using one of the best WordPress SEO plugins.
A person goes to a search engine and types in what they're looking for, and the search engine scours the internet to find relevant sites and returns some results. How do you get your website listed in those results? What about your directory listings?
The short answer is SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization. You use SEO practices when you need to make sure that your website is found by search engines when someone is looking for the content you have. SEO is your way of raising your hands and saying to the search engines, “Hey! My site is about that! Pick me!”
You can definitely optimize your directory for search engines, and that's what you came here to learn more about, right?
The topic of SEO is vast and far-reaching. It includes many SEO topics that are not discussed here, like on- and off-page optimization, site maps, optimizing images, and analysis of your progress toward reaching the first page of search results. However, we'll give you many essential pointers for your directory SEO in this article.
There are many web pages and resources out there devoted to the concept of good SEO. We hope you will use them to understand SEO in a broader sense. To learn more than what we have shared here, check out the helpful links at the end of this article.
If you follow SEO best practices for your directory site, you can be super successful and get your site and directory listings found in the search results. Now, let’s get started!
How to set up Business Directories for SEO
This guide will focus specifically on the SEO elements for directory listings in Business Directory Plugin. If you're a directory business owner who creates local business listings, it won't be difficult to follow the guidelines here.
One of the best things about the Business Directory Plugin is that it is customizable. The plugin comes with some things set up for you, but you can change many settings to reflect your directory content better. In this guide, we'll show you how to take three main steps to optimize your directory for better placement in search engine results:
- Optimize your directory name for SEO
- Optimize your listing content for SEO
- Optimize your Page Titles and Descriptions (for the category and listing pages)
Some SEO definitions before we begin
We can't stress enough how large the SEO field is and how many things you can do to optimize your website. However, these three basic concepts will get you started.
Keywords – these are the words that people use to search for information on the internet. Search engines use keywords, among other things, to determine what your site or your directory is all about. They are fundamental to the process of SEO.
Page Titles – these are another way to indicate to search engines and people looking for relevant content what your page is all about.
Meta Description – this description goes one step further and explains what the site is about in more detail. Think of these things as the basic building blocks of good SEO.
You may think these things are new to you, but I guarantee that you know what they are! How do I know? Because I'd bet just about anything that you've done an internet search. The search engine results pages show you exactly what we've just described.
In this guide, we'll refer to these three basic building blocks frequently.
Step 1: Optimize your directory name for SEO
We covered the importance of choosing the best name for your directory in our Directory Naming Guide. This guide is excellent for getting started with SEO for your directory.
Choosing a relevant title for your directory is one of the first and most important things you can do to optimize your directory for ranking in search engines. The title is a ranking signal to search engines to tell them what information your directory contains.
Check out the guide for the specifics of how to change the name of your directory, but, spoiler alert! Your directory name should probably include keywords that you want to rank for!
Step 2: Optimize your SEO listing site
The three main fields you can change in the plugin to help your directory be more SEO optimized are:
- Business Name
- Business Genre
- Long Description
The “Business Name” field in Business Directory Plugin is your listing title. Business Names may naturally have keywords in them, which is great because it would be challenging to change the name to make it SEO-friendly. So what can you do instead?
You can change the name of the “Business Name” field to include your keywords and get a bit more SEO optimized that way. For example, if your directory is about Real Estate Agents, name the field “Real Estate Agent Name.” If your directory is about firehouses, change the field to Firehouse Name, or just Firehouse. Then you can move on to other fields, like Business Genre, where you'll want to add keywords also.
By default, the Business Directory Plugin names the category field “Business Genre,” which is very generic. It has to be that way to start because our users create many different types of online directories!
If you have a directory about Dog Breeders, “Business Genre” may not seem very relevant, however. You can take this opportunity to add some optimized content to your directory pages.
Change the Business Genre field to Dog Breed, and it becomes more relevant to your site's content. Or change it to Breeder Location if your directory focuses more on geography. Perhaps your directory focuses on registered breeders, so maybe you want the Business Genre to become Type of Breeder Registration. The possibilities are limitless, and you can tailor all of your fields to the type of directory you want.
The Long Description field is the one field where your users usually enter a detailed description of their listing. Your users can be encouraged to add some keywords here, and some will occur naturally in the content. You can also change the name of the field. In our Dog Breeder site example, this field might become “Breeder History & Background” or “Breeder Policies.”
Before changing the name of the field, you may want to give this field name some thought. This field is unique because it's the field that WordPress considers to contain the primary content of your listing, and you can only have one (as content) field per listing. You wouldn't want to change this to be an address field, for example.
Adding additional fields to your directory setup that are relevant to your content and audience will also significantly improve the optimization of your directory.
Step 3: Optimize your page titles and descriptions
While we're going to get into these things in more detail in our SEO plugin guides individually, we can talk generally about them here.
The Category Page is the page you get when you click on a link for a category. When you install Business Directory Plugin, it doesn't have any special design or content on it. Still, you can optimize this page by adding a category description using an SEO plugin. By default, Business Directory Plugin doesn't have a way to edit this information independently.
The Listing Pages are what you see for each directory listing. These pages do come with a page title but no meta description. You'll also need to add these with an SEO plugin.
SEO plugins we recommend for your directory
Unfortunately, you do have to choose one SEO plugin — you can't have them all! Since we can't say that any one of these plugins is better than the other, the recommendations below appear in no particular order. Every person will find the one they like the best and use it based on what makes the most sense in their opinion.
It's important to note that you can develop an SEO strategy that goes much further than using a plugin. There are tons of places where you can hire someone to do your SEO for you, which may be an option if you don't want to learn the field, don't have time to stay on top of things, or if you want some reassurance that you're doing the right things.
This article should give you a good foundation in SEO best practices for online directories and give you some guidelines for getting your directory found in the search engine results pages. Consistency is key in a good SEO strategy for your online directory, so keep that in mind. Also, ranking high in search engine results is not something that happens overnight — it takes time to build up all of the things that search engines consider essential for front-page results.
Organic search is the best foundation for all SEO, but keep in mind that there are other ways to get your directory listings found in search engines. There are paid options as well, like pay-per-click advertising, but that's something that's beyond the scope of this article.
What has your experience been with getting your directory listings found in search engines? We'd love to hear from you — let us know in the comments below.
Good luck with your quest to be number 1 in the search engine results!
In addition, consider checking out these resources for further information on SEO:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide from Google
- Moz (also, explore Moz local)
Bonus: SEO checklist for online business directories
To sum things up, among other SEO strategies for your entire website, this article recommends that you do the following for your directory:
- Add keywords to your directory name
- Add field names that include your targeted keywords
- Add keywords in the Long Description field
- Add keywords in your directory categories
- Use an SEO plugin to help
- Add your category page meta-description
- Customize your listing pages meta-descriptions
So, what are you thinking about SEO and directories? Share your experience with Business Directory Plugin and SEO via comments. Happy listing!