Local listings in online directories both help people find your nonprofit and boost your website's rankings. People use many different platforms to find businesses and organizations, and if they're using it, you need to be there! Creating a listing in popular and powerful directories like Google Places, Bing Places, and Yahoo Local helps people who use these listings find you, and provides a powerful indication to search engines that you're an established organization.
These listings basically act as mini websites, so if you have enough of them, when a person searches for your nonprofit's name, they'll get a page full of informative, good-looking listings you've created.
Chris Silver Smith of webmarketingtoday.com provides an good summary of the value of taking the time to list your organization in online directories:
"This creates “local citations,” which are mentions of your business location that are then used by search engines for ranking purposes. Online directories provide a double advantage. Not only do they provide citations, they also help to incrementally establish that your organization is a real entity, which helps with parts of search engine algorithms based upon trust."
Where Should You List Your Nonprofit?
There's a lot to choose from- literally thousands of online directories where you can provide your organization's information and create a listing. You probably don't have a lot of time, so prioritizing the sites that will bring you the most benefit, making those listings outstanding is the way to go.
Here's an example of search results for 'veteran assistance in ny' on Google Maps:
You can see that Google displays the top-ranked organizations on their map and provide the name, type of organization, reviews, and location details on the left-hand side. This helps searchers easily find what they're looking for. You can see why getting listed on Google Maps and other listings is so important.
Here are a few ideas for listings to submit your organization to:
- Top 50 local citation sites – US
- National, State, and Local Nonprofit Directories
- Local directory sites
Just a heads up- getting listed is not a link building strategy, as SEO expert Phil Rozek explains:
"Don't confuse citations with links. Remember: citations are just mentions of your name, address, and phone number. To Google, they increase your business's relevance to and "prominence" in a specific city or region."
What Should Your Local Listings Include?
- Correct Organization Information: Make sure that your nonprofit’s name, address, phone number, hours, URL, are complete and accurate. If you aren't careful and list variations of your contact info, search engines may think you are several different organizations! This could hurt your rankings and make it difficult for people to find you.
- Images: Include as many high-quality photos that showcase your organization's mission, culture, and community well. Images make your organization stand out, and it may have an effect on how well your organization ranks within each listing.
- A Description of Your Organization: Provide an informative, succinct summary of your organization's mission, history, goals, and anything else you think would be helpful to add. To help your listing's ranking you’ll also want to include your keywords and phrases in your tagline and/or description.
- Categories: Most listings allow you to choose several categories which best represent your organization. These categories help people find you, so you'll want to choose as many as you can, as long as they accurately describe what you do.
- Reviews: Just because you're a nonprofit doesn't mean you don't need reviews! Many local listings allow testimonials from people who have used services or products from a business. Take advantage of this by asking people you've helped or collaborated with to provide an online testimonial on any of the listing sites you're on. This will help your rankings and help build your organization's reputation.
- Other Info: All listings are different, and some allow you to include anything you can think of, while some keep it very simple (often in an attempt to get you to sign up for a paid listing). Add everything you can. Include optional information such as hours of operation, languages spoken, social media links, etc.
- Listing 'Blog' Posts: You probably already have a blog on your website, but many listing sites allow you to add posts on their site. I'd encourage you to post something once in a while when you update your listings. This will keep your listing 'fresh' and improve your listing's ability to rank well in a local search.
Removing Duplicate Listings
Here's an example of duplicate listings courtesy of Phil Rozek
Local business run into this issue all the time- multiple duplicate listings. This just means that there are two or more directory listings with the same, or similar information, for your organization. This often happens when you switch locations or someone doesn't search for a current listing before creating another.
It confuses the search engines and people searching for you, and you should work to remove them as soon as you can.
Getting Started with Listings
Listing your nonprofit is a process; something that should be chipped away at over time. Dealing with the quirks of each directory can be frustrating, and the key is to consistently add new listings and monitor the listings you already have to make sure that they're still accurate and fully optimized to convert visitors into followers.
Still have questions about local listings? Let us know!
Want to learn more about nonprofit marketing? Sign up below for my email course on attracting followers to your NP organization!