If you are a small business owner that does in-person business, for example a clothing store, salon, plumbing service and the like, you’re constantly looking for new customers. Once you’ve got your website up and running and started on SEO and SEM, how else can you leverage the Internet to introduce new customers to your business?
The answer is local directory listings.
Local listings are that special section on search engine result pages, usually at the very top, reserved for local businesses that match the current search. These listings are usually accompanied by a map. Local small businesses, particularly in retail, that fail to get listed are leaving money on the table, especially since many smartphone users call local listings regularly to find nearby places.
You’ll have to fill out a few forms and create a few accounts, but more exposure online means more customers can find your business. Most of the options are free, though some do have options to pay for a more premium or highlighted listing if you choose. Here are a few key local directories to start:
1. Google+ for business: http://www.google.com/+/business/
2. Google Places for business: http://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/
4. Yahoo! Local Listings: http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local-listings/sign-up/
Bonus: Make sure you’re listed on Yelp in your local area. It’s the second largest local review site in the world, and you don’t want to miss out on those customers! If you don’t have any reviews yet, you can always ask some of your regular customers to write you a positive review. Don’t be tempted to write your own review; Yelp monitors the activity and review patterns of its members and will delete reviews it deems illegitimate.
Fill out all of your business accounts as completely as possible, including your phone number, physical address, website address, store hours and a photo or two. If you have social media profiles, you will want to include those as well. You can also list things like services offered, brands of merchandise carried and more. Having a complete listing on multiple directories will give customers a better sense of the great services you are providing; and a complete listing will also rank higher.