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“Why Ignoring Your Local Listings Won’t Them Go Away, But It Might Make Your Customers”

If you own a business, its online.  Even if you’re selling yarn out of a store you’ve owned for 50 years and you ban all digital devices within a 200 foot radius. Your business has an online listing.

These days its not just the local phone book people use to find businesses in the area.  The big online search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing all have local business listings.  So do about a hundred other websites you may or may not have heard of such as ABLocal and Brownbook.

They contain information such as your business name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, a brief description, and a place for customers to leave reviews.

Whether you’ve told them about your business or not, they will list whatever information they can find.  If you haven’t told them any information then odds are they have at least one piece of it wrong.

Wrong Information Hurts Your Business

According to YP.com, 73% of consumers will lose trust in a business if they find an inaccurate business listing online.  So if you have a bunch of inaccurate listings, then you could be losing quite a bit of business.

Even worse, if you’re ignoring reviews you don’t know about (or haven’t found), they very well could be losing  you business without you even knowing you had an unhappy customer.  One bad review can go a long way.

Imagine you’re searching a few of the big sites for a house painter and find one listed with 2 different phone numbers and 2 different addresses.  No website.  No photos.  No reviews.  No ones going near that him without a recommendation from someone else.  Conflicting information is a big red flag in consumers.

Imagine again you’re looking for a painting service for you’re house.  You find from you’re search on a few sites that there are 3 places that offer painting services in your area.  Of the 3, one has a name, phone number and address listed.  One has all of that plus a website and a few good reviews.  The last one has not only a name, phone number, address, and website, but also has pictures and many good reviews.

Which one are you going to check out first?  Exactly, the one with the most information.  Which is why you may be the best painter in town, but if you’re ignoring your local listings then you could very well be the poorest painter in town.

So this gives you two options.  Hire someone like me to take care of your local listings and probably a lot more internet marketing, which I highly recommend, or you can take care of it yourself.

If You Decide To Do It Yourself

Do it yourself internet marketing

 

While you can spend time tracking down listings sites via the search engines, you save yourself some time by using some free services to check your local listings against about 50 business directory sites.  YP.com offers a free scan that will check how about 60 different sites list your business.

Its pretty extensive and will show you how different sites list your name, address, and phone number.  Its not the greatest judge of this however so check the listings yourself (there will be a link directly to your business page).  The YP scan claims a few of my listings are missing a name and phone number which they clearly have.

Another service that will check your listings is Yext, which pretty much checks the same sites as Yellow Pages with a few different ones thrown in.  Both services will offer to take care of all your online listings for about $50 a month.

Its only worth it if you REALLY want to get onto the Yext or Yellow Pages exclusive sites quickly (they will eventually list you) or you want full control over your Yext and YP exlusive listings.  Otherwise, do it yourself or have it included in your internet marketing.

Beyond Local Listings: Getting More Links for Your Small Business Website

Once you’ve taken care of your local listings in as many of the sites as you can from the listings scan, you can begin to get more links and increase your rankings in  the search engines.  To do so you will want to  start with search engine searches.  You can find business directories specific to your state, town, and industry.  Make sure they are sites you trust.  There are plenty of sites out there that will actually hurt your rankings so beware. If it looks shady, or makes crazy promises, don’t list your business there.

Doing this is also going to take some time.  Most of the directories will take a few weeks to even a few months for your submissions to go through.  You’re probably going to spend your time putting your info in a thousand times and sending a bunch of emails.

Paying For Links

You can usually expidite the process of getting your  business listed by paying a fee or putting a link to the directory on your webpage.  However, be careful because this can get pricey quick and might not even be worth the money for the amount of traffic its going to produce.  Why get listed 3 months early if it costs you $40 and you only end up with 10 extra hits a month?

Consider putting that money toward an upgraded listing on Yelp or YellowPages.  You’ll probably get more customers from an upgraded listing there than a paid listing on a site that only gets a few hundred hits a month.

Also, be careful of paying for your listings.  Many sites will ask for upwards of $10 a month just for a basic listing.  This can get very pricey very quick.  If you’re going to pay, make sure its a site worth paying for such as Best of The Web, JoeAnt, and Jasemine Directory.

Don’t get roped into paying for listings that simply don’t get results and don’t add to your SEO. Don’t get too carried away either.  Just because you pay a few hundred a month for listings, doesn’t mean you’re going to be on page one of Google.

Again, you can hire someone to do all this, and a lot more, for you.

The 2 Real SEO Benefits from Local Listings

Most people know that the more links back to your website the better your search rankings are (SEO in a nutshell).  Listings on sites such as YellowPages and Yelp will create quality backlinks for your website.  Therefore, making sure that all the local pages have not only your name, address, and phone number, but also your website address listed is a must.

However, what most people don’t think about is that these listings create pages that usually rank well on the search engines themselves.  This creates a chance for not just your business website to appear in the search engine results, but also your listings pages.

The more pages you have appearing in the results, the less your competitors have.  This is known as search engine saturation.  It also creates more trust in your potential customers to see you multiple times as well.

Again, imagine searching for a painter.  If you search and find that Jim’s House Painting has a local Google listing, a Yellow Pages listing, a Yelp listing, and his own website listing, then you are more likely to trust that business than you would a business with only piece of that in the search engine results.

Also, the more pages you have out there, the more likely they are to come up for different keywords.  Many sites will  list you for surrounding cities which will cause your listings pages to come up more often via city specific searches.

For so many reasons, making sure your local listings are correct are an absolute must for any business.

checklist for local listings

 

 

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“Top 5 Social Media Sites for Business That Aren’t Social Media Sites”

The term social media usually brings to mind big names like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin. However, the true essense of social media is the ability for a business to interact on a personal level outside of the brick and mortar store.

It doesn’t matter how many “likes” you have, it matters how many of them actually interact with your page.  Interaction is the key to succeeding with social media.  Which is why if you truley want to use the full potential of social media, you need to look beyond the big names.

Any chance you get to make an impression on a potential customer should be used.  All the sites on this list give you the chance to post pictures, descriptions, and other relevant info.  The more you can post the better.  Not only will a more complete profile show up better in search results, but customers will build confidence in you more quickly.

While traditionally, social media marketing focus’s on the big names, but there are many more sites than just the typical ones that give us the ability to interact on that personal level.  Here are my Top 5:

 

yellow pages logo

Yellow Pages.com

Definitely not the first name to pop in your head when you hear “social media.”  Though its been a go to business directory since pretty much the inception of the telephone.  Its grown from a simple business name and phone number listing on a yellow page to a profile that easily rivals Facebook.

It includes photos, a description of your business, hours, description of your specific products and services, and most importantly a place for customers to leave a review.

Making sure your profile is filled out as much as possible can put you above your competition not only in the search results, but the more customers know about you, the more likely they are to choose your service over a competitor.  Profiles with photos, hours, service/product descriptions, ect. look much better than a simply business name and phone number.

YellowPages.com directory pages rank for many different search terms, which means not only an additional page in the search results, but quite a high ranking one.

Yelp logo

Most people who hear Yelp usually think “business reviews.”  But with the ability to not only give user reviews of local businesses, but to rate these reviews with Facebook style emotions, Yelp shares a few aspects of traditional social media.

Users share reviews with “friends” so reviews can have a far reaching impact, in either direction.  You can also upgrade your account for $50 a month to include a “call to action” such as “Get a Quote,” “Join Now,” and “Schedule an Appointment.”

For another $50 a month you can restrict your competitors ads from showing up on your page, and for $25 a month you can put a slide show of pictures on your page, in the order of your choice.

For $75 you can have all 3, which saves $50.  So unless your really interested in a slide show only, I couldn’t see a reason not to opt for the $75 option.  If you’re going to upgrade your profile that is.

Again, the more in your profile the better.

Yelp pages also tend to show up well on Google so the more info you can add, the better your rank and the more your customers will know about you.

merchant circle logo

Merchant Circle

The usual social media style profile incuding pictures, description, ect.  For $4.99 a month you can remove the ads from your page.  In addition, you can purchase additional cities for your profile to show up for as well for $2.50 a month each.

An interesting feature good for local business is the MC Verified Badge.  For $4.99 a month you can display a badge on your website proving that Merchant Circle has verified your a real person, and a real business.  For $19.95 a month you can purchase “Hero Ads” which will put your business profile above others.

So there are a lot of paid features that really aren’t social media.  However, for the free profile, reviews, and photos its definitely a must have.

In addition to reviews and a rating sytem, you get a blog.  One of the more unique features I’ve seen for a business listing site, and makes it a bit more of a social media site.

angies list logo

Despite being the original user only business review site, the profile it offers is quite small compared to others, consisting of only a small description, photos, website, and other generic features.

Members can not only review your business, but message you directly through the site, which makes it a very social site.  Any chance to interact with your customers fulfills the goals of social media.

If you’re looking for some backing, the ads on Angie’s List offer consumers a great level of confidence.  They come with a 30-guarantee of your service and products which means even if they’ve never heard of you, they trust Angie, so they trust  you.

alignable logo

Ok so this one is a social media site.  However, its a specialty one for small business owners to connect with other small business owners.  It offers all the regular features of social media such as local ads and connections.

It also offers discussions to join and recommends local business owners to connect with.  Great if your B2B or even just to connect with other people in town.  Remember, social media is all about connecting with people, not just getting likes and follows.

Don’t Get Wrapped Up In Terms

Your social media strategy should be based around interacting with your customers and future customers.  It doesn’t matter what you call a website, be it a business listing, social media profile, or business review.

There are many many sites out there not on this list.  Don’t be afraid to search your business on Google and see what shows up.  You may have customers trying to interact and you don’t even know it.