5 benefits of adding free listings to your online business directory website

5 Benefits of Adding Free Listings to Your Online Business Directory Website

Published on May 24, 2021. Updated on July 18, 2022. 

Starting a local business directory and coupon website can be an exciting and lucrative opportunity to cash in on local online advertising. Local businesses are spending more on online advertising than ever before, and a local directory website offers them a low-cost option to promote their business online, within their community. If you recently launched a local business directory with Ideal Directories, or are thinking about starting one, one of the first things you will want to do is add some free sample listings to your site.

While at first it might sound counterintuitive to add free listings to a site that is meant to be a source of income, there are many benefits to adding free listings. By adding free listings, you can quickly populate your directory website with the content it needs to start ranking in search engines and provide a pleasant experience for shoppers who use it.

Free listings also play an important part in the sales process and should be leveraged as a trust-building opportunity to get your foot in the door with local businesses. The idea here is to give away a few free listings in each category fully knowing your ultimate goal is to convert each business into being a paying advertiser.

In this article, we explore 5 benefits of adding free listings to your online business directory and coupon website:

1. Free listings prevent an empty directory

When it comes to a directory website, business listings are the primary form of content. A directory website without listings essentially has no content, and is useless to anyone who visits it. Adding free listings will provide immediate value to site visitors and will make your site look legitimate and professional instead of questionable and amateur.

Start by adding a few businesses to each category on your site. Within minutes you’ll have a good number of listings and a site that looks complete and legit. 

2. Free listings generate traffic to your directory website

Every listing increases your chances of being found when a shopper searches for a product or business that's offered on your directory  - the more listings you have, the better the chances are that your site can rank and perform better in search results. This includes free listings as well as paid listings.

By adding free listings to your directory website, you are providing more content for search engines to crawl. Each business that you add to your site becomes a potential source of traffic that can benefit everyone and increase the value of advertising on your directory.

3. Free listings entice shoppers to come back for more

First impressions matter. Why work hard to get customers to discover your site and not give them a reason to return? Shoppers who have already found and used your directory are more likely to come back if they've had a pleasant experience, or even better, found a great deal the last time they visited.

Adding free business listings, along with coupons and deals from local merchants, is a great way to entice local shoppers and create a “sticky” website. The more valuable content you offer, and the more often you add new listings to your site, the more likely local customers will remember your site and want to visit your directory on a regular basis.

4. Free listings build trust with local businesses

One of the biggest benefits of adding free listings to your directory website is that it builds trust with local businesses (AKA potential advertisers). Seeing other businesses on your site helps potential advertisers visualize what their listing can look like and understand exactly what they are getting for their money when they take advantage of investing their advertising dollars with you. Adding free listings to your site can also make local businesses who are not listed on your directory think they are losing out to their competitors who are already signed up.

Here’s a Tip: If a business is hesitant about advertising on your site, offer to give them a free listing for a short period of time; don’t keep their free listings up forever. Limit free listings to a short period of time, such as 3-6 months. Explain how you will give them a free listing on your site to earn their trust, and demonstrate the value. Revisit them again in a few months to share some stats about their listing, talk about the benefits of a paid listing, and discuss opportunities to get more exposure on your directory.

5. Free listings easily convert to paid listings

Just because a listing is free today, doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way. Any listing you add to your site for free can easily be converted to a paid listing down the road. Once you start getting paid advertisers on your directory site, approach the businesses you created a free listing for, and explain that while they currently have a free listing, there are many advantages to upgrading to a paid listing. You might even decide to tell them that you will be removing their listing from your site if they do not want to pay to keep it online. Although it sounds bold, this strategy can be very effective.

Ideal Directories software even includes the option to make any free listing “claimable” so a business who has a free listing on your directory can upgrade to a paid listing by simply clicking the “Claim Listing '' button and entering their payment information. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make any free listing on your site claimable because it makes converting it to a paid listing very easy.

In Conclusion

Adding free listings is often a necessary step to running a successful and profitable business directory website in your community. Think of free listings as a fast, easy and inexpensive way to make your site look more professional, increase traffic, provide value to visitors, and earn the trust of local businesses. Take these tips and use free listings to start building your own online business directory website with Ideal Directories today.
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