Why is it that small businesses will spend a large chunk of their marketing budget for expensive online ads and completely forget about one of the cheapest and most effective ways to gain new customers?
I’m referring to local listing sites. These sites are one of the most frequently overlooked and neglected marketing tools when it comes to helping your target audience connect with your business. I’m not talking about having a company Facebook page (although you certainly should!) I’m talking about sites such as YellowPages.com and Yahoo Local.
Creating an account on each of these sites is very simple. To start, simply search to see if there is already a basic listing created for your company. If so, you’ll just need to “claim” control of your listing. Always begin with this step, as you don’t want to create a duplicate listing. If there is no listing already established, then you’ll start a new one.
Make sure you enter all the relevant information, including business hours, location, phone number, website, and local transportation options. If you are a restaurant or service provider that takes reservations, include a link to your reservation site as well.
Now that you know the basics of how to set up a listing, here are the 5 primary local listing sites you should start with:
1.Google My Business
Having a Google My Business listing helps potential customers find you on three of Google’s most popular sites: Search, Maps and Google+. This is especially important when users are searching on their mobile devices and utilizing GPS technology.
2.Bing Places for Business
Bing is the second most popular search engine behind Google. Bing Places for Business makes it easy to create a listing with a simple 3-step process: claim your listing, complete your listing profile, and verify your listing.
Believe it or not, there are still a lot of people who use Yahoo as their search-engine-of-choice. Make sure you have an up-to-date listing for your business if you want to be found by these people. (Hey, they spend money just like Googlers and Bingers!)
Yahoo offers different listing levels, including the free Yahoo Local listing and Yahoo LocalWorks (which lists your business on over 50 local sites for $29.99 per month.)
Though not technically a search engine, Yelp is one of the most important websites when it comes to having a business listing. Yelp is primarily a review site, which is why it is so important that you claim your listing or create a new one. It will allow you to monitor and respond to reviews. (And if by chance you get a negative one, read my previous post about how to respond.)
Ready to get set up on Yelp? Click here to get started.
Remember the days when you actually had phone books delivered to your house? One would be the white pages and the other would be the great big Yellow Pages that got thicker and heavier each year, much like the September issue of Vogue.
Well, Yellow Pages has gone green, so to speak, and is now available online. And it is every bit as important to have your business listed on YellowPages.com as it was to be found in the hard copy book.
One of the added benefits of having your company listed on as many local sites as possible is the increase in SEO. Having more inbound links to your website will improve your Google ranking and search engine optimization as well.
Also, given the fact that most consumers are performing the majority of searches on their mobile devices, having your listing pop-up as a “nearby” or “closest” option can increase your chances of a potential new customer choosing you over the competition (who probably hasn’t taken the time to update or create their own local listing.)
So, while the days of letting your “fingers do the walking” in a big thick yellow book are long gone, your potential customers are still looking for you online. Make sure you show up wherever they happen to be searching.
About the Author
Sydney Stone is a freelance writer and editor of the popular fashion blog Stylaphile. She has written several pieces for various startup and B2B technology companies and has published two collections of ten-minute plays by up-and-coming playwrights entitled Stage This! Sydney is also a content marketing specialist with extensive experience managing Marketo and Pardot automated marketing programs.Follow on Twitter More Content by Sydney Stone