What Online Profiles Every Home Service Business Should Have

Table of Contents

1. What Online Profiles Every Home Service Business Should Have

       Top 15 Directories to List Your Business for Free

          What are online directories?

          Best online directories

          Why should you list your business in an online directory?

       Top 5 Social Media Platforms to Market Your Service Business Online

          Why is it important for your business to be on social media?

          Best social media platforms to use

          How often should you post on social media?

       Top 6 Lead Generation Websites to List Your Business

          Should you invest in a lead generation website?

          Most common lead generation websites for service professionals

2. How Should I Monitor My Business's Online Health?

       Impressions

       Engagement

       Monthly revenue

       Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

       Review scores

3. Will a Website Help My Business?

       The benefits of having your own website

       Setting up a website is simple

4. How Do I Set Up So Many Online Profiles?

       Option 1: How to list your business on multiple directories at once

       Option 2: Listing your business on directories manually

5. Summary

There are thousands of websites that claim to promote your business - but which ones should you focus on? As a small business owner, investing time and energy into building an online profile that doesn't drive paying customers to your business is frustrating. That's why we've created a list of the top 26 online profiles to list and promote your business.

Top 15 Directories to List Your Business for Free

What are online directories?

Think of an online directory as the web version of the Yellow Pages - it's an enormous catalog of websites all located in one place. Similar to the Yellow Pages before the internet, online directories are the main way consumers can find the services they are looking for beyond word of mouth or individual company websites. Since users rely on them to find relevant business services, it is really important that the information you list is accurate and does a good job at marketing your services.

Best online directories

1. Google My Business (GMB)

Whether you're searching for "restaurants near me" or looking to find a "repair shop," you've probably used Google to find high quality local listings. Google My Business is how business owners manage their business profile across Google Search and Google Maps. While ensuring your website ranks well on Google through SEO is important (we'll cover that later), it is even more important that you are able to monitor traffic and interact with users on Google Maps and Google Search.

2. Yelp for Business

Yelp is a massive free online directory of businesses and services. The company started as a website and app focused on allowing customers to write reviews on their favorite restaurants, but has since expanded to include home service professionals and other services where reviews are handy. Ensuring that you claim your business on Yelp provides an easy way to monitor online reviews and respond to customer inquiries.

3. Manta

Manta markets itself as America's local small business directory and serves as just that. It is a great way for customers to search for the type of service or product they are looking for in a particular geography. Manta also has a built-in project cost calculator that helps users determine a reasonable rate for the service they are looking for. This can be a great resource for comparing your prices to competitors in the area!

4. Apple Maps

According to Statista, more than half of smartphone owners in the U.S. have an iPhone. This means that while Google Maps is an incredible way to get found online, Apple Maps is another way people are getting around. Apple has increasingly found ways to integrate Apple-specific technology within each users' experience. Ensuring your business is listed and updated on Apple Maps is an excellent way for customers to find your business.

5. Bing Places for Business

While Google may be top of mind for searching online, Bing is the second most popular search engine. This is partly due to the fact that some alternative search engines such as Duck Duck Go also utilizes Bing to populate search results. Luckily for service professionals Bing typically follows Google, the search industry leader, for search features. This means that as you update your Google My Business profile, you should make similar edits to your Bing Places for Business listing.

6. Yellow Pages

The Yellow Pages online directory is a great site to list your business on to get found by potential customers, especially by geography. Yellow Pages differs from state to state, which means the site naturally populates unique pages based on the location of the searcher. This is a great opportunity to use a directory that caters to potential customers in your area, so be sure to check that your business is listed and is listed accurately in Yellow Pages.

7. Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a go-to for reliable information and has become the golden standard of business review resources. Listing your business with the BBB not only add significant credibility to your business, but it will also help your business rank well in search results because of the website's web authority. Of all the review sites to monitor, BBB is perhaps the most important, as the directory's reviews are even more transparent and impactful than those shown on Google or Apple Maps.

8. Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a directory for local businesses to be found by different neighborhoods, in addition to being a neighborhood online marketplace. Nextdoor features a myriad of services, so much so that they have a separate FAQ article detailing how to use their search feature. While Nextdoor isn't exclusively a listing site for service professionals, it's a great way to connect with potential customers local to your area who are searching for in-person services.

9. Local.com

Local.com is exactly as its name suggests, it lists all businesses and events nearest you, similar to Nextdoor. The main difference between the two is that Local.com is more concerned with general reviews of businesses instead of services - which includes restaurants and entertainment. While on its own it may appear to be tourism-focused, their team has partnered with Yext to bring added functionality for professionals looking to claim their businesses on their site.

10. MerchantCircle

MerchantCircle is the largest social network for business owners and is categorized as a digital marketing company. This directory is an incredible resource for professionals to build networks by taking advantage of word of mouth advertising and local business partnerships. Think of MerchantCircle as a combination of Facebook and Yellow Pages, with free and paid packages depending on how aggressively you want to promote your business page through the site.

11. Superpages

Superpages is a general directory with access to reviews by location, similar to Yelp. Services listed on Superpages include home services, legal, travel, recreational, and much more. What really sets this directory apart is a scanner that searches for customer reviews of your business across the web for free (at time of writing).

12. eLocal

eLocal is owned by HomeServe, which is a company focused in the home services industry. Beyond industry specialty, it functions similarly to most other directories in helping homeowners find local service professionals for a reasonable rate. If you are a service professional, listing on eLocal is a great way to promote your business online for free with little to no effort.

13. Yellowbook

Yellowbook is the general version of Yellow Pages with expanded search features. Yellowbook is essentially a collection of Yellow Pages sites across each state in the U.S. In addition to this, Yellowbook allows users to search for businesses and people through Yellow Pages records. This could be a valuable resource to business owners to get an idea of competitors and scout potential partnerships.

14. 2findlocal.com

2findlocal brands itself as the online directory that helps consumers make big finds with local small businesses. In terms of search functionality, it works similar to Yelp but is smaller in search volume and scale. While this may appear to be a disadvantage, it offers the opportunity to stand out to searchers who are more inclined to convert from a niche website.

15. Insider Pages

Insider Pages is another site that prioritizes local business listings based on proximity to the user. However, Insider Pages is owned and operated by IAC, the company which owns Angi and HomeAdvisor, among many other large search brands. Listing on Insider Pages is important because your ability to rank on this website makes it easier to stand out in the company's other, more traffic-heavy search directories.

Why should you list your business in an online directory?

Developing awareness for your company is difficult, especially if you don't have the time or your own website to promote your services organically. Online directories help fast track the discovery process of your business by increasing your online visibility to various customers. However, each online directory only represents one catalog of websites or businesses. It's quite common for customers to skim 2 or 3 directories before finding something they are happy with, which makes getting your business listed across multiple directories that much more important.

Top 5 Social Media Platforms to Market Your Service Business Online

Why is it important for your business to be on social media?

As we talked about earlier, online directories are a great way for your business to get found online. However, the ability of your business to be seen and evaluated by a potential customer is limited to how that person looks for information. Now more than ever, people spend their free time (and sometimes even work time) checking social media. That's why many businesses have taken advantage of these platforms' marketing tools to put their companies in front of as many people as possible. While you don't need to start spending thousands of dollars in the hopes of a conversion, creating organic content for your business on social media is a great way to boost sales and develop a competitive advantage in your line of business.

Best social media platforms to use

1. Facebook

Facebook sees more traffic than any other platform, and about 80% of Facebook's users access the platform on a mobile device. Being able to create content for your business's Facebook page will give you a great way to attract new customers to your business without spending as much time conducting outbound sales efforts.

2. Instagram

Instagram is owned by Facebook and is one of the most popular social media platforms today. The unique element of Instagram is the ability to share photos and videos almost exclusively - it's a visual medium. Take advantage of this focus by uploading high quality photos or videos of your work. You can also link your Instagram account to your Facebook account to make it easier to upload content on both platforms simultaneously, reducing the amount of time spent on each post.

3. Twitter

Twitter is a great way to get found by engaging in discussions related to your business. However, the tricky part of navigating Twitter is finding your community and producing content that sticks. One of the big advantages Twitter has over other social media platforms is its search engine. Use Twitter's search bar to your advantage to get an idea of what topics users on Twitter are talking about that are related to your business.

4. YouTube

YouTube is the crown jewel of video content on the internet. While many business owners see the platform as a time sink, it's a great way of taking advantage of the content you are already producing with the opportunity to speak about what makes your company shine in depth. One of YouTube's greatest strengths is its integration with Google. Producing YouTube videos gives you the opportunity to have your content featured in the videos section of Google's search results pages, offering another opportunity to create leads through social media.

5. TikTok

TikTok is everywhere, even if it didn't exist more than 5 years ago. Countless business professionals are flocking to TikTok to create content to promote their business or offer career advice. The strength of TikTok is its algorithm, which has been crucial to it being the fastest social media platform to reach 1 billion active users worldwide. Take clips from YouTube videos or film quick videos showcasing your company's work to engage with users looking for businesses like yours to maximize visibility.

How often should you post on social media?

Before thinking about how often you should post on each social platform, you should keep in mind that the key to success in organic social media marketing is consistency. If you can maintain posting 5 times per day on social media, go for it! But if your plan is to hit 5 posts per day across all your platforms, which you realistically maintain for as long as your enthusiasm lasts, then posting won't do you any good. It is better to post a few times each week consistently than it is to post multiple times each day and then stop once you hit a busy week. You should also keep in mind that quality is better than quantity (you're representing your company!), so make sure each of your posts does you justice.

1. Facebook

Many articles claim that posting twice per day on Facebook is ideal. However, for smaller pages under 10,000 likes, this is a misnomer.

A HubSpot study found that pages with less than 10,000 likes saw a 50% engagement decrease if the owner posted twice or more per day. As a general rule of thumb, posting between 3 to 7 times per week is ideal to rank well in users' feeds without getting listed by Facebook's algorithm as spam. If this seems unmanageable, a good goal is once per week - this ensures your business stays relevant to Facebook and your target audience.

2. Instagram

Posting every other day or once per day is ideal on Instagram. The benefit of Instagram (besides Facebook marketing tools for your business) is how easy it is for users to scroll through. The important thing for your business is ensuring Instagram's algorithm puts your post in your followers' feeds. Instagram's algorithm favors relationships, relevance, and posting habits.

Relationships refers to your account's relationship with another user's account - DMs, visiting account pages, and more. If you can get a user to engage with your account through messaging, checking out your profile, or commenting on posts, there's a really good chance you'll rank highly in their feed in the future.

Relevance is exactly as it sounds. Users interested in the Green Bay Packers probably won't see any posts about the Chicago Bears - and rightfully so. Instagram analyzes the content users view to recommend more relevant content. This is why quality is more important than quantity - make sure your posts are consistently targeting your audience to improve your feed ranking odds.

Posting habits refers to how frequently you post on your account and at what times of day.

Above all else, maintain a posting schedule that is at least once per 2 weeks. With Instagram, it is generally better to not post anything before establishing a steady stream of content than it is to post frequently one week and then stop producing content afterwards.

3. Twitter

With Twitter, the sky is the limit. Some users Tweet a few times per day, and others Tweet 50-100 times per day - it really depends on what gains traction in comments, likes, and retweets. With Twitter, the keys to success are engagement and consistency. Don't Tweet if you can't engage with users in the comments at all, and sharing relevant content on the platform that engages your target audience is important.

To put your best foot forward, join some Lists and Topics relevant to your business to get an idea of what your target audience is engaging with. Lists are groups of users or interests put together by users, similar to boards on Pinterest. Topics are like following hashtags on Instagram - they are Tweets about user interests. Tapping into Lists and Topics relevant to your business will help you gauge what content to produce and provide you with an immediate community of users you can engage with.

4. YouTube

YouTube is a great resource for learning something new or watching something entertaining, with little room in between. Many service professionals use YouTube to display their credibility by showcasing work they have done or demoing services to teach untrained folks on the internet how to do things (e.g., servicing a vehicle, checking if a wire is live, etc.). Because of this (and YouTube's integration with Google), ranking well on YouTube makes it easier to rank well in Google search results pages, making this platform very useful for marketing your business online for free.

However, there are two common strategies for producing content on YouTube for service pros: (1) creating a library that you can reference on other platforms or embed on your own website or (2) growing an audience and online brand.

The first strategy involves uploading videos whenever it is convenient for you. This is the most common because it takes considerably less time and because converting views into paying customers can be very difficult. Many business owners will create videos without a content schedule for the sake of having relevant content on YouTube that can be used in social media posts or embedded on their website. This ties into ranking highly on Google search results pages and building a credible reputation for your business online.

The second strategy involves uploading 2-4 videos per month. This strategy is less common, but can be very helpful for pros who have an online business, allowing them to perform their jobs over the phone or online.  This is because there is no way of controlling for where users watch your videos. For example, if you sell pressure washing services in Georgia and you have an interested viewer in Idaho, you're out of luck. Following this strategy, YouTube can be an opportunity to quickly build credibility, form business relationships, or source brand deals.

5. TikTok

Posting on TikTok should not be taken lightly, as to maximize engagement you'll want to post at least 2-3 times per day. There is a great article of a month-long experiment a user tried on the platform to figure out how often to post. The 'golden rule of TikTok' is to post daily at a minimum to keep up with other creators on the platform and to keep your followers engaged and interested.  Unless you are a content creator, uploading to TikTok and tweaking your videos may be cumbersome.

However, because TikTok's algorithm is notoriously aggressive for pushing out targeted content, this may be a good platform for you to try if you're looking to promote a seasonal service and want to take advantage of a TikTok trend. Similar to other social media platforms, try finding content from business's similar to yours to get an idea of what type of content is best received by your target audience.

Top 6 Lead Generation Websites to List Your Business

Should you invest in a lead generation website?

The consensus online for lead generation websites is mixed. Most lead generation sites charge businesses a fee for every potential customer who interacts with their business - the downside is that not all of these leads will convert to paying customers. However, the upside of using a lead generation website is the quick exposure the platform may provide. You can get your business out off the ground quickly and may earn some repeat business from customers that came through the website.

Most common lead generation websites for service professionals

1. Thumbtack

Thumbtack connects service professionals, from painters to DJs, to prospective customers for a service fee. For professionals, Thumbtack asks that you build a profile and select what type of services you provide. From there, Thumbtack acts as a search engine for customers to find the right services for them based on their desired criteria. Thumbtack also has a product called ProAssist that professionals can opt into to auto-send quotes for jobs they provide. While this can be beneficial for transparency, many pros have taken to online forums about having little to no control over which jobs are promoted or how many quotes go out - which costs money on a quote-by-quote basis.

Thumbtack's basic pricing structure is more or less straightforward. As they mention on their website, pros only pay when a customer makes contact, pros are able to set weekly spending limits on leads, and refunds "and other assurance" are available in cases where pros unintentionally overpay for services. However, many online argue that claiming refunds is very difficult, not to mention the added difficulty of managing additional products such as Thumbtack's ProAssist. If you do decide to use this site, make sure to do so with care.

2. Angi (formerly Angie's List)

Angi is a site that started as a lead generation site for homeowners to find landscapers and other home service professionals. Over time, Angi has evolved to emphasize customer reviews and rolled out a dedicated payment app, Angi Pay. Some of their features are similar to Thumbtack, which we have covered in a previous article. However, Angi has retained their underlying fee structure for the most part, which ties directly to the profitability of the businesses listing on their site. It's also worth mentioning that Angi and HomeAdvisor are owned by the same company.

Setting up an account on Angi is free for business owners but comes with a catch: if you want to get in front of prospective customers, you're encouraged to pay to run advertisements (similar to Google). The average cost per click on an ad is around $6, but is variable depending on the market (e.g., geography, the services you provide, etc.). So, capturing leads may be costly. It's important to keep in mind that Angi earns money in two ways: advertising fees (from home service professionals) and membership fees (from homeowners). That being said, the likelihood of your business being found on Angi is tied to your willingness to advertise on their site.

3. HomeAdvisor

HomeAdvisor is owned by the same company that owns Angi (formerly Angie's List). However, the main difference between the two is who the site is built for. Angi is more homeowner-oriented, which is why there is a homeowner membership fee that protects customers and grants them access to a greater selection of pros. HomeAdvisor is more general-purpose as homeowners don't enjoy the same protections as they might with a membership fee at Angi, and contractors who want to list on the site are charged an annual $350 setup fee. In addition to the setup fee, lead fees (the cost incurred each time a customer clicks on your business and contacts your business) runs on average from $10 to $50 (and sometimes more).

It's also important to bear in mind that HomeAdvisor may route messages from multiple contractors to a single homeowner. For example, if a homeowner searches for an electrician, HomeAdvisor will send quotes from 5-6 electricians that may not even be in their local area. There are a number of factors to be aware of when considering HomeAdvisor, but only consider listing your business on their site if you plan on investing enough time and money into it to scale.

4. Porch

Porch is focused on local home improvement services - think electricians, plumbers, and painters. Porch typically charges $10 to $30 per lead to pros who are looking to increase their business. While it is free to join, pros can pay a $300 fee to become a "vetted pro" on Porch's site to rank higher in search results. Some reviews of Porch on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are heavy-handed, claiming fake leads and losing thousands of dollars over years of continued service on lead fees without noticeable returns.

However, reviews from other sites view Porch as another reasonable source of marketing for service professionals. It is worth noting that Porch provides homeowners with a wide range of services ranging from utility to insurance providers, so getting found by your target customer may be difficult. Listing on Porch is free, so if you do decide to use their services, be sure to set up systems to prevent overpaying for leads that don't convert to paying customers.

5. Houzz

Houzz is a site that specializes in home design, unlike many of the other sites on this list. This includes services such as interior designing and remodeling. Houzz markets itself as the LinkedIn of home design and, if nothing else, is notable because Ashton Kucher has invested in the company.

Similar to many of the other listing sites, service pros can buy their way to the top by competing for ad space and following cost per click rates closely. The upside to Houzz is that the range of services is limited to home design, which comparatively increases the quality of leads to be found on the site.

Currently, Houzz has three pricing options: Starter ($65 per month), Essential ($99 per month), and Ultimate ($399 per month). Each tier, in increasing order of cost, provides a wider range of features on the site, many of them related to marketing.

6. Bark

Bark is the Fiverr of lead generation sites for service pros. Bark offers the widest range of services to homeowners from this list, including accounting, cleaning, and web design services. This makes it difficult to get found on the site and can lead to questions regarding where your marketing dollars are going, which is why Bark has placed the responsibility of generating leads on the shoulders of service pros.

Unlike many other lead generation sites, Bark uses a credit system. Pros purchase a credit pack - a bundle of virtual currency on Bark's site - that can be spent on contacting prospective customers. While this makes managing funds much easier, it increases the amount of time spent acquiring leads and can make closing deals with homeowners competitive.

How Should I Monitor My Business's Online Health?

Nowadays, there are countless ways that you can quantify your business's online presence with key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are calculations that measure how much traction your business has across important business operations such as your ability to retain customers, reach new customers, and more. They can give you a snapshot of your business's current financial or operational state and to uncover valuable insights that help you plan to improve your company's trajectory. Here are some of our most recommended KPIs to track:

Impressions

Impressions are also commonly referred to as traffic or volume by measuring the amount of visitors your content receives in a period. This KPI indicates the number of times a user has seen or scrolled past your business on a website, search results page, or social media feed. Tracking impressions is really important because it tells you how relevant each platform's algorithm thinks your content is. For example, if you notice that you generate 3x impressions for your content in a specific season, you may want to either diversify your content to capture more visitors the rest of the year or capitalize on increase traffic to convert visitors in the long-term.

Engagement

Engagement is the most subjective KPI here. It refers to the reviews and comments people leave about your business online. While we typically think of engagement as a metric defined by social media, this also applies to review sites. Monitoring engagement is important for getting a subjective view of how users perceive your business and what they like or don't like. This is also a great opportunity to engage with users to build brand loyalty.

Monthly revenue

Monthly revenue is pretty straightforward: it's the revenue your business generates in a month. While analyzing monthly revenue on a month-to-month basis may seem mundane, the importance of tracking this KPI over time should not be underestimated. First, it helps you identify your peak and off-peak seasons. Most importantly, it gives you a timeline to measure other KPIs against. Your busy season is the summer but you noticed a big surge in purchase orders in March? Review your other KPIs against your revenue to get more context. Your monthly revenue is the backbone of your business's financial performance, and it can be used to understand what is and isn't working to grow your company.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the dollar amount spent to drive a sale for your business. You calculate this KPI by dividing your marketing and sales expenses by the number of customers acquired in the same period. For example, if you spent $200 paying for social media ads and a salesperson's salary which drove 10 paying customers to your business, your CAC would be $20. This KPI is a useful benchmark against industry averages to assess how effective your sales and marketing strategies are. For B2B companies, CAC is expected to be higher due to lower sales volume despite experiencing greater revenue per order.

Review scores

Review scores are the number ratings associated with your business's online profile (typically on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best). You can think of this KPI is the objective counterpart of engagement, as it relies on users to engage with your business online. Review scores are a pulse for your business that you can use to monitor your business's perception compared to competitors, at a glance. While it may be difficult to parse through dozens of paragraph-long reviews, it is easy to pick out 1- and 2-star reviews from 4- and 5-star reviews.

This KPI provides a great way to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your business, as well as compare your business's rating compared to others in the same industry or geography. Generally, a difference of 0.1 or 0.2 stars may not be significant, but a 0.3 or more difference can sway a customer's opinion.

Will a Website Help My Business?

The benefits of having your own website

Investing in building your own website is incredible for four main reasons: (1) credibility, (2) flexibility, (3) conversion, and (4) ownership.

Credibility:

Remember a time when you Googled an answer to a question you had and came across a website with a generic domain name with a solid blue or green background and plain text on the screen? Remember questioning if the information on it was legitimate? That's what it can feel like when users search for your business and find listings instead of your business's own website. Yes, utilizing online profiles like your Google My Business listing massively helps manage your company's reputation, but your profiles should all funnel to your website where you can better engage with customers in one-on-one setting.

Flexibility:

Imagine changing your operating hours or adding a new service and then visiting each listing site to update your business's information? Instead, having a website and linking to it from each online profile makes it easier for customers and leads to keep up with your updates. It is helpful to have accurate and up to date information listed on third party websites, but more often than not customers will default to your website for important things such as finding your phone number to give you a call or seeing which neighborhoods you operate in.

Conversion:

On third party sites, customers are bombarded with ads and organic content for the services they are looking for, which can be a mess to navigate between the reviews, FAQ pages, and special offers. At every click, businesses are competing for customers' attention. Try finding your business by searching your specific industry in any of the online profiles above. The results you see are likely what your customers will see unless they have a link to your website or have visited your website in the past. If you don't have one, you are constantly competing for conversions and returning customers. With a website, you can route traffic and make it easier for customers to stay with your business.

Ownership:

It also makes sense to spend the money on a website because it is an investment in your business and nobody else's. Why buy a small ad space that can get lost on someone else's website for the chance at 3-4 leads per month when you can buy your own website and generate 10x the leads within 1-2 months that is tied to your company?

Setting up a website is simple

Building a website from scratch is easier now than ever, however if you want to grow your business quickly building a website yourself may not be ideal. Currently there are many DIY websites like GoDaddy or Squarespace that have website builders that allow your to build your own website using a template. The problem with these online builders is that designing your own website to be user friendly and to function properly takes a lot of time and energy. In addition, you will need to make sure your website is optimized for SEO so that your business ranks high in search results on websites such as Google or Bing.

One of the best alternatives to building your own website from scratch is to use the web building service offered by ProPhone. ProPhone will offer to build you a custom website sample for free. If you like the website, they will also provide you with your own custom .com domain name, unlimited edits, and work with you on the best ways to grow your business online. To get your own custom sample website created, check out this link.

How Do I Set Up So Many Online Profiles?

There are dozens of online profiles you can set up for your business that will kickstart your sales and marketing efforts. However, there are two main ways of creating your profiles: (1) using ProPhone's Online Directory Manager and (2) creating profiles manually.

Option 1: How to list your business on multiple directories at once

Getting listed and managing multiple third party sites can be extremely tedious and repetitive. It can be very time intensive to go back and forth between sites while trying to make minor edits to operating hours, update photographs, and change out social media and other website links. Luckily, ProPhone's online directory manager will help you setup and manage multiple online directions. No more having to keep track and manually update each listing yourself! You'll be able to update multiple directories all at the same time, helping you grow your business presence online quickly and effortlessly! To get started, check out the Online Directory Manager here

Option 2: Listing your business on directories manually

The directories we've covered in this article can be divided into three categories: directories, social media platforms, and lead generation sites. The process for setting up an account for each is very similar, which is covered below:

1. Free online directories

Of all three categories of online profiles, business directories requires the least amount of verifications to get set up. You will need to find the business website and submit an application to get listed. This typically involves providing your name, email, phone number, and physical address of your business and verifying your email address.

If you're having trouble getting started on GMB or Apple Maps, you can search for your business on Google Maps and click "claim your business" or go to Apple Map's business registration site, respectively. From there, include your business's information and you're good to go! Be sure to add pictures and respond to user reviews to increase engagement and improve the credibility of your business online.

We recommend that you spend extra time on sites such as Google My Business, Apple Maps, Bing, and BBB because they typically ranked higher in website authority, meaning that they appear at or near the top of search results pages and are commonly referenced on other websites.

2. Social media

Social media platforms are generally pretty quick to set up, but take time to grow. Just download the app you'd like to list on and create an account for your business - and remember to mark the account as a business account (especially on Facebook and Instagram) as doing so will unlock features that are unavailable to standard users. Select a unique username, enter your contact information, be sure to include a profile picture, and link to your website to help drive traffic to your business. If you already have a Facebook Business Page, you can learn how to optimize it by clicking here.

3. Lead generation

Lead generation sites are the most difficult to set up. The setup process begins similar to any other online registration. Begin by navigating to your site of choice and finding the sign up page. From there, enter in your details, including your name, email address, phone number, company name, and company's address or geography. Once you have an account, you will need to opt into a program to be eligible to collect leads for your business. This involves providing your payment information for billing purposes.

While it may not be advertised during the setup process, many lead generation websites have what is known as an early cancellation/termination fee. This is a fee that is charged to service pros who try to leave a platform for a certain period of time after signing up (in many cases, the early termination fee covers the first year of service). Many pros have been able to get the termination fee refunded after filing a complaint with the BBB, but nonetheless this can be difficult to grapple with when you're focusing on sales for your business.

If you're a newer business owner getting started or a long-time business owner, building and maintaining a credible online presence through free directories, social media platforms, and lead generating listings are ways to increase inbound leads and develop a reputation.

Summary

There are a lot of platforms that enable you to list your business for free, however which ones you choose depends heavily on what your development goals are and how much time and energy you can reasonably spend to accommodate them. While picking the right platforms is a difficult choice, it is better to invest adequate time into a few that will dramatically improve your life than to spread yourself thin running 10 accounts that generate little to no returns. Here is a quick list of our key recommendations:

  • List your business on free directories. If you're starting from scratch, prioritize creating profiles on Google My Business, Apple Maps, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau because they will have the greatest impact. Once you have enough time to manage more profiles, expand into more online directories and social media platforms. If you don't want to hassle of setting up and managing all the different directories, you can use the Prophone online directory manager to make growing your business online hassle free.
  • Regularly monitor your KPIs - especially monthly revenue, CAC, and review scores. These will give you the 'bigger picture' on what is and isn't working to grow your business.
  • Build a website and link to it with your online accounts. This will generate leads for your business for free and will be a great source of credibility and control over your business.

Most importantly, take a deep breath. Recognize that growing a successful business is a difficult endeavor, and you're doing everything in your power to succeed. We hope this article was useful to you and we wish you good luck in your journey.

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