Manta.com is one of the most popular local business information websites in the United States. According to its own data, Manta draws about 11 million unique visitors per month and boasts more than 5 million small, mostly local businesses in its database — a significant fraction of all U.S.-based small businesses with physical storefronts.
Does this site’s popularity mean you, a small-business owner eager to reach more potential customers in your hometown (and perhaps beyond) should invest the time and effort necessary to create, optimize, and maintain a Manta listing?
Perhaps. It depends on what type of business you operate, how much effort you can devote to your listing, and whether business directory websites like Manta truly complement your marketing efforts — or whether you’d do just fine without them.
Pros & Cons of Creating a Listing on Manta.com
Does it make sense to create a small-business listing on Manta.com? This is the first question you need to ask before putting in the effort to create your Manta listing.
The truth is, Manta works better for certain types of businesses. Its most popular searches relate to customer-facing service businesses, such as retailers, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, and others:
- Automotive businesses
- Hotels and travel services
- Beauty shops and spas
- Cleaning services
- Plumbing, electrical, and other trade services
- General contracting services
- Health and medical
Like many other business information directory sites, Manta sorts listed companies geographically, down to the municipality or neighborhood level. This is vital for location-bound businesses, such as restaurants and brick-and-mortar retailers, that cater mostly or exclusively to local customers.
Manta is less useful, although not entirely useless, for companies that don’t rely on physical locations or local marketing to drive sales. E-commerce businesses that sell through platforms like Shopify or Etsy and rely more on word of mouth and social media marketing aren’t guaranteed to find Manta and its ilk valuable.
Pros of Listing Your Business on Manta
Why create a business profile on Manta? Advantages include the inherent legitimacy of a claimed business listing, SEO benefits, and the importance of sites like Manta in customers’ research process.
1. Claiming Your Listing Makes Your Business Seem More Legitimate
Manta’s “Claim This Listing” button makes clear which of its listings are “claimed” — acknowledged and maintained by the featured business — and which are not. The simple act of claiming your business therefore confers substantial legitimacy upon it, if only because doing so shows Manta-using consumers that you care enough about your establishment to take two minutes to make its listing your own. Rightly or wrongly, consumers might take an unclaimed listing as a sign that you aren’t really interested in attracting new customers.
I’m guilty of this myself. All else being equal, I try to avoid businesses with unclaimed online directory listings unless I know of them by other means — such as word of mouth — or they’re part of a recognizable business franchise that I trust.
2. Manta Listings Are Good for SEO
Popular search engines’ ranking algorithms have a “black box” quality to them — no one knows exactly how they work except the people responsible for them — and maybe not even they do. Still, conduct 10 Google searches for 10 of your favorite local businesses and you’re liable to deduce that business directory sites like Manta rank well in organic search results — the list of results you see below the paid search ads on search engines like Google or Bing.
Moreover, Manta’s featured product or service pages often rank separately from main directory pages. This means that your Manta listing could end up being responsible for several discrete search results, depending on how many featured products or service pages it appears on.
The bottom line is this: Unless your business’s name is easily confused with common or generic terms (“Quality Plumbing,” “Fast Oil Change,” “Tasty Sandwiches”), your Manta listing is likely to appear on Google’s or Bing’s first results page of a search engine. This is crucial because many consumers never venture past the first results page.
3. Consumers Rely Heavily on Directory Listings for Research
If you thought a PCMag study that found roughly 40% of online reviews to be fake would deter shoppers from relying on them, you’d be wrong. According to a 2017 ReportLinker survey, 60% of consumers give online reviews as much weight as recommendations from real-world acquaintances. Setting aside the question of whether this is a wise policy for consumers to abide, it’s a compelling case for taking the time to maintain listings on business directory sites with user-generated reviews, such as Manta.
Cons of Listing Your Business on Manta
Manta is a useful part of many a business’s online presence, but it’s not appropriate for every enterprise. Drawbacks include the time and resources involved in maintaining a profile and the fact that listings display potentially sensitive information — which may, in turn, invite abuse.
1. Maintaining Your Profile Takes Time and Effort
Although the initial step of claiming your Manta listing takes just a few minutes, keeping your listing optimized and up-to-date requires real, ongoing work. Uploading photos, analyzing user data, responding to reviews, changing listing information that’s no longer relevant — all these activities take time and effort.
If you have an online store, other business directory listings, and multiple social media accounts, staying on top of your digital presence could prove overwhelming. And, if you’re a cash-poor small business without the means to hire a part- or full-time marketing employee or social media manager, or even work with an outside PR or marketing firm, you’ll need to do this work yourself. If you can — otherwise, there’s no shame in waiting until your business has grown a bit to invest in a first-rate directory profile.
2. May Not Be a Great Resource for User Reviews
Although Manta never experienced the sorts of high-profile fake review scandals that bedeviled Yelp in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the platform is certainly mindful of the potential for inauthentic reviews to interfere with and dilute genuine user feedback. Indeed, Manta and reputable business directory sites like it take measures to combat fraudulent reviews that can at times be overzealous — filtering out real reviews that you might want your customers to see.
Separately but relatedly, many Manta business listings simply don’t have many user-generated reviews, making them less useful for consumer research. Many of my favorite businesses — enterprises I know to be legitimate — have zero Manta reviews, likely through no fault of their own. If you want to ensure that your customers see every review of your business, good or bad, you’re better off investing in a more “social” directory like Facebook or Yelp.
3. Directory Listings Contain Sensitive Information
Certain types of businesses, such as restaurants and brick-and-mortar retailers, have no choice but to reveal their business addresses, phone numbers, and other basic bits of important-if-sensitive information. Customer-facing businesses like these can’t survive in anonymity.
That said, other types of local businesses — including those that make house calls, like home service providers — might prefer to conceal their physical locations, and possibly contact information, from the public. For example, you might not want your clients to know that you work out of a home office or coworking hub rather than an office suite.
To be clear, if an unclaimed listing exists for your business, it may well list your true place of business, be it a residential address, coworking space, or virtual office. You’ll need to claim your listing to remove this information — but once that’s done, you can feel free to let it lapse.
4. Your Listing Could Attract Abuse
There’s a small but real possibility that your listing could become a forum for abusive or hateful reviews or feedback from misguided customers — and, potentially, members of the public with no connection to your business. Unlike some online retailers, business directory sites like Manta tend not to require would-be reviewers to verify that they’ve patronized a listed business in the past. This makes it easier than it should be for people with a political agenda or personal grievances to single out individual businesses for criticism.
When they occur, such campaigns typically revolve around controversial actions or stances taken by the targeted business’s owners or employees. For example, in early 2015, the owners of an Indiana pizzeria made headlines for publicly announcing that they’d follow their state’s recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was widely interpreted to condone discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The stance prompted a backlash that saw thousands of comments, some of which were obscene and threatening, posted to the restaurant’s website. Citing safety concerns, the shop closed shortly thereafter, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Reasonable people can disagree with the restaurant owners’ politics without condoning threats to their and their employees’ safety. And, even if you have no plans to publicly announce your business’s support for controversial legislation, your digital presence might nevertheless become a venue for customers to air their grievances. If you’d rather not deal with such backlash, perhaps it’s best to lay low.
How to Claim or Create Your Manta.com Listing
Follow these processes and tips to claim or create your Manta business listing.
Claiming an Existing Business Listing
Manta uses user-submitted and publicly available information to generate business listings, which legitimate owners can claim. Claiming your Manta profile allows you to do the following:
- Update Your Listing Information. Claiming your listing unlocks the ability to edit your business name, contact information, business hours, brands carried, payment accepted, business categories (such as “doctors’ offices”), and other basic information. You can also add a brief, customized description of what your business does and provide links to your company website or social media pages.
- Add Logos and Photos. You can upload your business’s logo or another representative photograph to appear at the top of your listing.
- Highlight Products or Services. Basic Manta profiles allow for three highly detailed product or service pages, which are useful for describing core or high-value offerings to prospective customers. You can add photos, list prices or price ranges, and include a “Purchase Info” button, which prompts visitors to take a specific action like “call for a free quote.”
Manta has a good primer on claiming a legitimate business listing. To finalize your listing claim and any changes you’ve made, you’ll need to create a user account with your email address, Facebook account, or Google account. If you create a listing with an email address, you’ll need to input your full name, email, and a unique username and password. If desired, you can add a headshot. Your profile doesn’t contain a ton of personal information about you — it’s more about managing your own business listing, recommendations for other businesses, and account privacy.
Once your profile is created, you can find out whether your business is listed by searching Manta’s database for your exact business name and city. If a listing already exists, click the “Verify Now” button next to it to sync it with your personal profile. Unlike Yelp, Manta doesn’t require verification of ownership, but you can follow a similar process to earn a “Verified” badge, which Manta claims confers legitimacy. With your listing synced to your profile, you can begin editing and improving to your heart’s content.
Creating a New Listing
If your business isn’t yet listed, simply click the “Add Business” button that appears at the top of every Manta page. Doing so leads you to a form to list your company, where you’ll fill out some basic information about your business: exact company name, exact location, and contact details. This unlocks your listing and syncs it with your personal profile.
How to Optimize Your Manta Listing
Use these tips and resources to optimize your Manta listing once it’s claimed or created:
1. Create a Compelling “About Us” Section
A detailed About Us section is great for boosting your page’s visibility on search engine results pages. Use Google Keyword Planner or a similar tool to identify keywords that your business already ranks for, and then sprinkle them into your About Us copy.
Make sure your About Us is comprehensive, but not awash in detail — the goal is to create a high-level look at your business that shows why you’re different from the competition without overwhelming the reader with granularity.
2. Take Full Advantage of the Product and Service Showcases
Manta lets you highlight up to three products, services, or packages on separate pages within your listing, and there’s no reason not to take full advantage. Focus on popular, preferably high-margin products and services that somehow stand out from what the competition offers. Include images, pricing information, and keywords — check Google Keyword Planner.
3. List as Many Contacts and Links as Possible
In addition to your main business phone number and company website link, include as many relevant contact numbers and web property links as necessary to provide one-stop access to your entire business. If your business has multiple departments — such as a dining room, bakery, and catering service — provide names and direct lines for the manager of each. Likewise, link to each of your social media properties and your online store, if you have one.
4. Solicit and Curate Customer Recommendations
Manta doesn’t make customer feedback a core part of its appeal. Manta frowns upon customer feedback manipulation, so don’t offer special deals to customers who provide glowing recommendations. However, it does still allow customers to leave what are essentially reviews on companies’ directory listings, so you can certainly ask and encourage customers to leave feedback if they wish.
5. Use Educational and Social Resources
Manta publishes educational articles on how to get the most out of your Manta profile, as well as general tips on running and marketing your business. It also hosts discussion forums that allow you to connect with other Manta users, talk about your experience on the platform, and seek out advice from more experienced users.
Manta isn’t the only free business listing site that small business owners like you should consider using. Dozens of other sites, including some you’ve probably heard of — Yelp, for example — can increase your company’s name recognition and promote its services to more potential customers than you’d reach via more expensive marketing channels.
Not all such sites are created equal, of course. Some are free or nearly so, while others require a one-time fee or monthly subscription. And many are ill-suited to certain types of businesses or have other drawbacks that might give you pause.
Instead of spending time and money chasing after every directory site that might possibly help your business, take some time to research the most popular options and develop a narrower, more manageable list that works within the constraints of your marketing plan and budget. Along the way, feel free to speak with peers and competitors about their own experiences on these platforms, assuming they’re willing to talk. With so much else on your plate, you certainly don’t need to make an investment that has little chance of paying off.