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Getting the Most out of Online Profile Directories

Getting the Most out of Online Profile Directories

If you've got accounts on any social media websites, you may already be a part of some online profile directory.  Twitter is the newest website to get onboard with the profile directory craze.  They recently released online profile directories allowing users to browse accounts, and Google has already indexed over half a million pages from this directory alone.  If you're interested in getting into online profile directories and getting the most out of them, you need this guide.  Keep reading to find out which online profile directories are worth being a part of, and which ones you can safely ignore.

What is an Online Profile Directory?

When you become part of many web communities, you'll be asked to set up some kind of profile at the time of registration or afterward.  Online profile directories gather publicly visible profile information into a single resource for ease of browsing, indexing, and searching.

Some of the most commonly used online profile directories include the directories for Yahoo, Google+, and Twitter.  While there's no reason to join one of these websites just for its online profile directory, the directories do make it substantially easier for people to find you, and make your search rankings higher.  This is because profile directories increase a website's total number of Google links, which in turn makes their links more prominent and easily searchable.

Seeing Which Online Profile Directories Your Competition Belongs To

One of the best ways to see which online profile directory is considered the gold standard in your area is to check to see which ones your competitors belong to.  Try searching Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook directories to see if you can find the people you are in competition with.  You may also want to run an inbound link checker on competitor websites.

When you run an inbound link check tool, you may find that your competitors belong to several online profile directories that are exclusively for the use of attorneys.  These are extremely useful tools, and if your competitors already belong to this type of online profile directory you need to hurry up and join it as well to remain competitive.

Should We Be Listed on an Online Profile Directory?

Even if your competition hasn't yet gotten to some of the most popular online profile directories, you should probably start.  Having this important leg up on your biggest competitors can make it much easier to be seen before they are in Google and Bing searches.

However, not all online profile directories are equally prestigious or equally useful.  You should probably make sure that other professionals are using any online profile directory before you decide to have an entry in one—otherwise, you could end up part of a directory that is primarily used for websites that are less professional looking, and ending up in this kind of bad company can actually hurt rather than help where your pages appear in search results.

The questions you should ask yourself before getting a listing with an online directory service are these: have we heard of this directory before?  Is it a directory in common use?  Does it have a relatively high Google Page Rank?  Does it seem to have a large number of spam websites?  Does it accept just anyone, or is it more selective?  If you've never heard of a particular online profile directory and it accepts all profiles, you may want to be wary—this is often an indicator that a website is more about generating artificial links than helping users find the online content they want.

Which Online Profile Directories Are Popular?

When it was originally introduced, Google+ was supposed to be one of the biggest online social networks and online profile directories on the internet.  However, not every online profile directory attains the level of fame and value that it was hoping for, and the clunky interface of Google+ meant that it was only used by tech-oriented people and those who liked to be on the cutting edge of internet communities.

Instead, the most common online profile directory for attorneys to belong to is the LinkedIn profile directory.  Facebook follows rather closely behind (and may someday have more attorneys than LinkedIn, especially as consumer-focused legal practices continue to proliferate).  Yahoo! and Twitter also offer relatively frequently used online profile directory systems.  You should, if you can, be a part of all of these directories.

You should also consider becoming part of any online profile directory that is very popular with other attorneys in your area.  People go to directories where the most relevant results are.  If you have a state or local bar association that offers you the option of being included in this type of directory, you should probably do it, even if it costs some nominal fee.  However, any other type of directory that charges you to use it should be considered suspect—most general, rather than professional, directories will never charge such fees in 2012.

How Do We Find Which Online Profile Directories List Us?

Of course, in some cases, you may already be listed by an online profile directory—or even more than one.  For example, if you've got a Facebook profile, you're already searchable.  If you want to know whether you have been listed in a particular website's directory, you should consider doing a site specific search.  Typing “site:[sitename]” into Google, without the brackets and replacing sitename with the actual URL you want to find search results in, will help you to narrow down your search so you're just looking for directory profiles.

What SEO Strategies Work In Combination with Directories?

Because some of the biggest online profile directories are part of social network websites, it makes sense that one of the best strategies you can implement to augment your directory listings is social networking.  If you're not already actively participating in social media, now is your chance.  Make your online profile directory listing count for something—get active.  Start posting, responding to posts other people have made, and keeping discussions alive.