The dangers of free online directory listings

Danger of online directories

When you first set up a business, the first thing you want to do is to tell the world about it. An easy way to spread the word is to add a listing to as many online business directories as you can find.

Whilst properly configured directory websites can be great for increasing traffic to your own website and for potential customers finding you, there are a few risks with “free” sites which you might not have thought of :

  • out of date information – do you have a complete list of all the sites you are registered on and do you update them every time something changes about your business (phone number, website address, business address etc.)?  If you don’t then there could be wrong information out there about your business which is bad for potential clients and also bad for search engines (which like consistent details across the internet for organisations).
  • associated with other low quality listings – even if you keep your own listing updated, the chances are on “free” sites that some other listings are wrong.  This can cause a bad experience for visitors to the directory and therefore impact on your own listing.
  • data protection – some “free” sites don’t have clearly defined terms and conditions about what they will do with your data from your listing.  Can you be sure that they are not selling on the information to other sites which could increase the chance of you received unsolicited emails and phone calls?

Here are some recommendations which should help you to avoid the above situations :

  • keep a list of all directories you have added your business onto.
  • search for your business online and see what listings you are currently on and see whether the details are correct.  If they aren’t then you have a right to contact the website owner and ask for the information to either be corrected or removed.
  • check all terms and conditions when adding new business listings to sites to see how they will be using your information.
  • consider choosing directories which have a regular listing fee or with expiry dates on listings; that way you can be assured that the information is up to date.