Small Business marketing budgets are tight. There’s absolutely no room for advertising or marketing activity that is not pulling its weight.

So how about those online directory listings? You know the ones. The ones that every year you are approached to pay more and more money for a listing that will apparently help your online visibility in search engines like Google.

In fact, by paying the directory for a priority spot in their website, you can apparently guarantee that your business will be listed in the top search findings for your industry and location on page 1 of Google.

But there is more to this spend than meets the eye.


NB: this article is only assessing paid versions of directory listings. The free listings are a no-brainer. They’re free.


When the salesperson assures you that your paid listing will appear in the top search results for your industry and location, they mean that the Directory will appear in the top results. If someone enters the search term ‘Accountant Bowral, then the search results that they are delivered will include something like ‘Top ten accountants in Bowral’.

The searcher then has to click on that link to be then shown your listing along with your top 10 competitor’s listings.

Personally, I’d rather invest in ensuring my own businesses website appeared in those top listings and then the searcher could click straight into that!


If your sales rep for your directory doesn’t offer you the ‘click reports’ for your previous year’s listings (only available for paid listings), then ask for them. The report should show you how many people viewed your directory listing and the number of clicks that your directory listing received.

Let’s ignore the amount of views that your listing got and just focus on the people who were engaged enough with your listing to click on your listing:

Take that number and divide it by the annual cost of your listing. E.g. $2,300 annual directory listing fee/104 directory clicks. Your total is around $22 per click on your directory profile.

Now if you know that those clicks led to contact with your business that in turn led to a business transaction, then depending on what you sell, that might be quite reasonable. Trouble is, we don’t generally know if those clicks on your listing did actually eventuate to anything. They could have clicked on you then gone onto click on to one of your competitors and phoned them.

For a more direct and trackable assessment of your directory listing success, you might measure how many people the directory listing referred to your business’s website via your Google Analytics.

To do this, head to your Google Analytics, enter your date parameters and look under ‘Referrals’. Any referrals from the directory should come up here. You can then calculate the referral rate in the same way as above.


Some of the bigger online directories offer you an opportunity to add ‘backlinks’ into your listing. This is valuable because these ‘backlinks’ in a huge directory provide you with credibility in the eyes of the Google bots.

This should hopefully get your actual website listed higher on the Google search results as opposed to your listing on the directory site.


Could the $2,000 to $3,000 spent on your directory listing be more effectively spent elsewhere?


I can’t emphasise enough the importance of measuring the effectiveness of your marketing investment.

If you don’t know if something is working or not, then you will be inclined to just spend the money in the fear that if you stop spending on that marketing activity something bad will happen. Or you could halt an activity that was actually providing you with some winning results!

A few calculations and you can gain huge clarity into your return on marketing investment.


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