Get your small business noticed with local listings

11 JAN 2017 0

When you run a small businesses you do everything you can to make it stand out. But, we all know how expensive and difficult marketing can be. That's why the smart business owner takes every opportunity to get their business' name out there for free. By spending an afternoon updating and consolidating your local listings online, you can drive traffic to your site, and ultimately, boots to your door.

Local listings are part of what is known as local SEO. You've probably heard of search engine optimization - getting your website pushed to the top of relevant search results -  before, and this is related to that, but more specific to your businesses actual location.  

Search trends show that local searches are on the rise. Spurred by the ever growing popularity of mobile devices,  more people than ever want to know how to find businesses in their area while they are out and about. Google has taken notice of this trend and is now weighting the value of a properly listed business name, address, and phone number as a heavier factor in their search results. So having up to date information in as many relevant places as you can will help improve your search ranking and let people looking for your services know how to find you.

You have to ask yourself, when somebody in your area searches for a business in your industry, do you want your name to come up first, or the other guys? The answere is obvious and exactly why you need to pay attention to local SEO.

The great news is that updating your listings online is something you can easily do for free, with no technical knowledge necessary. While there are tons and tons of smaller, more niche focused listing services out there, just focusing on the most important services will go a long way to helping your business.

The big two

Right off the bat, the most important listing to make sure you're on is Google My Business, followed closely behind by Apple Maps

Google is the big dog of the search engines, favored by an overwhelming majority of users. If you're not listed on Google, you might as well not exist. It's somewhat appropriate then that getting your listing officially established with Google takes the involved process of all the major listing sites. They will have you sign in, answer several questions, and verify that you are indeed who you say you are and your business is legitimate. While still easy to fill out and complete, you will have to wait a few days before finishing the process as Google will actually send you out a paper postcard at the address provided. 

Apple Maps isn't as dominant a service as Google maps, but they can't be underestimated. A lot of people just use the mapping service they came pre-loaded on their phone. To make a listing with them you'll need an Apple ID (if you don't already have one) and be willing to answer a few questions. The Apple Maps verification process ends with a phone call instead of a postcard, so it's a little quicker to complete.

On social 

Listing your business on Facebook couldn't be easier. Like everything else about the social juggernaut, the process is streamlined and user friendly as possible. Simply use the "check in” button in the app, search for your business and claim it if it's already on there (Facebook and its wily ways often automatically list businesses, but their info might not be accurate) simply claim and edit it, if not, choose to add a new business. Now that you're listed on Facebook, you might want to consider some light social marketing, but that's a topic for another day.

Of course you're going to want to make sure your LinkedIn business profile is up to date. LinkedIn is THE business social network and having a presence on the service can help form connections and drive business your way. You can create a business listing just by going to the site, hitting the "companies” link and proceeding to "add a company.” Couldn't be easier to set up. Of course, just like with your Facebook account, it's worth it to go the extra distance and spruce up that profile once its established, but that can wait for now.

Twitter doesn't have a listing service per se, but you can still create a Twitter profile for your business with basic information and an address. If you don't already have a business Twitter, you should make one, it's a gigantic service and it's better to participate with it than ignore it.

Yelp is a user driven review site you will want to make a listing for. You need to make a (free) business account and search for your business. Same thing as Facebook, if its already on there you need to claim it, if not, you can make a listing. 

The classic

Hey, don't forget about the Yellow Pages! Yes, they are still around and on the internet. Creating a regular listing with them is free and that's all you really need. The service is slightly notorious for trying to sell ad space and a "premium” Yellow Pages experience, but the default listing will serve well enough.

Those are the main listing your business absolutely needs. By filling them out accurately, you're ensuring that no matter how your customers look, they'll be sure to find you. If you want to get crazy, there are all kinds of smaller, more industry-specific listing services out there. This can be particularly helpful if you specialize in a niche market, or only service business-to-business accounts.

Having accurate listings for your business across the net helps establish consistency and authority. Your customers will know who you are and how to reach you when they want, and everyone can see exactly what business you're in. You can't get better marketing value than all that for an afternoon's worth of filling in a few forms.

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