Business directories are powerful, and they are here to stay. Yelp alone receives an estimated 136 million monthly visitors — and it is just one of many directories. Business directories have the ability to increase your website traffic and send new customers your way. They also have the ability to harm your vape shop’s reputation and dissuade people who otherwise would have paid you a visit.
“My vape shop has no competition. Do I really need to bother with business directories?”
If you happen to own your city’s only vape shop, congratulations. However, the facts suggest that the exclusivity won’t last. There are over 10,000 vape shops in the United States alone as of 2016. In most areas, vape shop owners don’t have the luxury of not having any competition. In addition, it now appears possible that the new Republican administration will challenge the FDA’s e-cigarette regulations, which could bring about another boom in the e-cigarette industry.
If your vape shop doesn’t have competition, it will soon. If your vape shop has competitors already, you can expect more.
Giving Your Vape Shop a Competitive Edge in Local Search
You need every edge that you can get. You need to get your vape shop’s name in front of as many eyes as possible, and you need to own Google’s first results page for all of your primary keywords — before your competitors beat you to the punch. It’s much easier to claim a relatively vacant search engine results page than it is to unseat someone else who already has a clear lead.
Do you want your business to be the only result that matters — every time someone searches the Internet for a vape shop in your area?
Business directories are some of the most important cogs in a well-oiled machine that keeps customers beating a path to your door — and you really must claim as many listings for your vape shop as you can. Allow us to explain why.
Why a Vape Shop Should Claim Its Business Directory Listings
Business Directories Bring Customers
About 20 percent of Yelp’s traffic is direct. Every month, roughly 27 million people skip Google entirely and proceed directly to Yelp to find local businesses. Those who don’t go directly to Yelp get there through Google. That’s a testament to Yelp’s influence. Google has much of the same information, but people would rather read it on Yelp.
Business directories are very useful websites. Using a simple interface, you can get a list of businesses within a category in your area, see pictures of those businesses, read customers’ reviews of those businesses and more. If a particular business looks interesting to you, you can get driving directions — and even tap to call if you’re on a mobile phone.
The most important aspect of business directories is that people use them. People use them because they want to find local businesses, and those people want to find businesses because they’re ready to spend money. That makes business directory traffic some of the most valuable traffic that you could ever receive.
Business Directories Provide Local Citations
The term “citation” is one of the most important local SEO terms you’ll ever learn. A citation is any page online that mentions your business’s name, address and phone number. The number of citations that your vape shop has — and whether those citations agree on your business’s name and contact details — is a major factor in your website’s ranking on Google and whether or not Google decides to display your business in the “local stack” at the top of the page when people search for vape shops in your area.
Business directories are some of the best sources of local citations, so for the best possible search engine rankings it is crucial that you create listings on business directories, claim them if they already exist, correct any errors and delete duplicate listings.
Correct Inaccurate Business Directory Details
Claiming a business directory listing makes it easy to correct any errors that exist. The primary reason why you need to correct errors in your vapor shop’s directory listings is because people may use those listings to find or contact your business. If a potential customer fails to get in touch with you due to incorrect information, he or she probably will not try again.
The other reason why you need to correct inaccurate business listings when you find them is because you need consistency in your online citations. Google is the most popular search engine by a wide margin, but Google is only popular because they provide useful results. Google aggregates information from other sources to provide what its algorithm thinks is the correct contact information for businesses. If Google provides incorrect contact information, that’s not a useful search result — and Google may lose a user. So, if too many citations disagree about the correct contact information for your business, Google may not display it at all.
Remove Duplicate Listings
Occasionally, you may come across a business directory that actually has more than one listing for your vape shop. Duplicate listings can occur because of user contributions, among a variety of other reasons. It’s a good idea to report duplicate listings as you find them. Alternatively, depending on the business directory, you can ask the directory to merge the information from the duplicate listing into your official listing.
Duplicate listings are problematic for several reasons. Mainly, you want to delete duplicate directory listings because they create customer confusion and could contain incorrect information. If you have two listings on a business directory, customers won’t know where to leave their reviews. Also, if one of the listings contains incorrect information, you’ll have citations that disagree — which could hurt your search engine rankings.
Show Customers That You Are Active
What do you like to see when you search business directories? It’s likely that you want to see profiles that are complete. You like to see that a business has taken charge of its online identity by adding details such as pictures, a description and a website link. Your potential customers want to see the same thing from you.
Respond to Customer Reviews
Business directory users know that their star ratings have power, and they wield that power without mercy.
Business directories aggregate data from other directories, utility company customer lists, user submissions and other sources. If your vape shop has been in business for a while, it’s likely that most major business directories have listings for it already. If a business directory has a listing for you, it may also have customer reviews. People can review your vape shop online whether you want them to or not. Wouldn’t you like to thank your customers for their positive reviews — and interact with the customers who have reviewed your vape shop negatively? The only way to do that is to claim your listing and verify that you own the business.
Link Building for Vape Shops Is Hard
You’ve no doubt noticed that getting any kind of traction on the web is really difficult for any company in the e-cigarette industry. Google and Facebook do not allow e-cigarette companies to advertise, so you can’t even pay for traffic!
Google uses a website’s inbound links as a major factor when determining search engine rankings, but many of the websites that would potentially link to your vape shop are your competitors — and they’re not giving away links. Claiming your vape shop’s business directory listings is an excellent way to create some high-quality links to your website. Over time, the links from business directories can contribute to higher overall search engine rankings.
Manage Your Vape Shop’s Reputation
What would you do if someone said something negative about your vape shop on a forum or blog post — and it ended up on Google’s first page when people searched for the name of your business? Negative online comments damage the reputations of businesses every day. It’s always wise to try to work things out with an unhappy customer and try to determine whether your business needs to make a change to prevent similar problems in the future.
In the meantime, though, you need to make sure that as few people as possible see the negative comment. The best way to do that is to control as much real estate on the first page of Google’s search results as you can. Popular business directories often end up on Google’s first page for a wide variety of search results — so claim or create as many business directory listings as possible. If negative comments have no room to appear on Google’s first results page, almost no one will read them — few people ever click over to page 2.
What Are the Most Important Business Directories for Vape Shops?
For all of the reasons listed above, it’s generally a good idea to add your business to as many directories as possible. You have limited time, though, and it is true that some business directories are more important than others. These are the business directories that we believe are most crucial for success.
General Business Directories
Yelp is the granddaddy of all business directories. It’s the most popular pure business directory in the world, and you absolutely have to be on it.
Claim your listing on Google My Business to correct errors in your listing on Google Maps and increase your chance of being featured in the local stack on search results pages.
Bing may only receive a small portion of Google’s traffic, but don’t forget that Bing is the default search engine on many mobile devices. People use mobile devices to search for businesses on the go — so you definitely want to claim your vape shop’s listing on Bing. Claim it at Bing Places for Business.
Wait a minute, doesn’t Bing provide Yahoo’s search results? Yes, they do — but Yahoo’s business listings do not come from Bing. You’ll need to claim your vape shop’s listing on Yahoo separately. Yahoo uses Yext to manage its business listings. During the process of claiming your listing, scroll down when you see the price list. The free listing option is below the price chart.
YellowPages.com was originally a product of two phone companies. It’s one of the Internet’s oldest and most complete business directories — and everyone knows that you find businesses in the yellow pages. After visiting the page, scroll down and click “Get Your Free Listing.”
Facebook isn’t a pure business directory, but it does have more than a billion users. Although vape shops can’t advertise on Facebook, they can create pages and gain followers. Creating a page on Facebook is a great idea because it allows you to engage and communicate with your customers. Facebook business pages almost always end up on Google’s first page, too.
Vape Shop Business Directories
Niche business directories are popular projects among online entrepreneurs. If a directory works, it’s a pretty easy way to earn income. You can simply let business owners add their own listings, and ask them to pay to appear at the top of search results pages. So, as with many other business niches, you can find many vape shop directories online. Simply search Google to find several. At the time of writing, most of them appear to receive very little traffic. These two directories seem to be exceptions.
E-CigaretteDirectory seems to be one of the early leaders among business directories for vape shops. With more than 13,000 pages indexed by Google at the time of writing, this directory is quite large. This directory has both free and paid listings; paid listings receive greater prominence. According to SimilarWeb, this directory receives an estimated 2,100 unique visitors per month.
VapeAbout lists 7,783 vape shops at the time of writing. It also has more than 57,000 pages indexed by Google and receives an estimated 69,000 visitors per month. A basic listing on VapeAbout is free, but you can also pay for greater prominence and less advertisements on your listing’s page.
I’ve Claimed My Business Directory Listings. What Now?
For vape shops, the best business directory strategy will vary depending on the features of the various directories that you join. On every business directory, though, you should do at least the following three things:
- Correct any errors in your listing.
- Search for duplicate listings and remove them.
- Complete your listing by adding hours, a description, a link to your website, pictures and anything else the business directory allows.
From there, what you should do depends in part on the popularity of the directory. On Yelp or Facebook, you should definitely try to become an active member of the community if you can. Communicate with your customers, resolve problems if they arise and spend a bit of time promoting your vape shop.
Hopefully you’re using an analytics platform such as Google Analytics. Check your traffic sources to see where your website’s visitors are coming from. You can also ask customers who enter your store how they found out about your vape shop. If a particular directory is responsible for sending a great deal of business your way, you may want to spend more time nurturing your relationship with that community.
How Do I Get Customers to Review My Vape Shop?
Sometimes, customers tend to be most vocal when they’re not happy about their experience with a business. Cultivating positive reviews can be difficult — and you need positive reviews on business directories such as Yelp to receive prominent placement on search results pages. Most business directories have no problem with businesses specifically asking for reviews. Yelp does, though, so that’s the subject we’ll focus on here.
Asking for reviews doesn’t actually Yelp’s terms of service. They strongly discourage it, though, because they believe that a business owner will only ask for reviews from customers that he or she knows are happy. That’ll tend to skew the numbers in an unnatural way. So, you can ask for reviews — but Yelp will filter anything it deems unnatural.
Here are a few ways in which you can let customers know that you’re on Yelp without asking for reviews:
- Put a Yelp sticker on your register, or add a Yelp profile link to your receipts.
- Print your favorite Yelp reviews, and post them around your vape shop.
- Give Yelp users a small discount when they use the mobile app to “check in” at your vape shop.
What Should I Do About Negative Reviews?
Handling negative online reviews is one of the most difficult parts of being a business owner. Business directory users know that their star ratings have power, and they wield that power without mercy. They know that if your star rating drops, it’ll hurt your bottom line because your business will become less visible on that directory. If your vape shop receives a negative review on a business directory, we recommend following these five steps in order.
- Don’t panic.
- Compare the review to the business directory’s content guidelines. You can find Yelp’s content guidelines here, for example. Yelp forbids users from posting reviews containing personal, proprietary or entirely irrelevant content. Yelp also forbids reviews from disgruntled former employees. If you believe that the review violates the directory’s policies, flag it. In your appeal, use specific language explaining why you believe the review is unacceptable.
- Don’t respond in anger or attempt to refute the review. If the review doesn’t violate the business directory’s policies, assume the customer is right and focus on resolving the issue.
- Contact the customer by replying publicly to the review. Provide the customer with your contact information, and ask the customer to get in touch to discuss the issue. Remember — you should begin with the assumption that the customer is right. Do what you can to make him or her feel better.
- If you’re able to agree upon a resolution, ask the customer to revise or remove his or her review.
Following the above steps won’t result in the removal of every negative review that your vape shop receives. Some people take advantage of their anonymity online and behave in an unreasonable way. However, most of the people who review businesses negatively actually do believe they’ve been wronged in some way. If you can make the customer feel better, he or she may update or delete the review.
Tell Your Story
As a vape shop owner, what are some of the experiences that you’ve had with business directories? Leave a comment telling us all about them.