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Forbes on Local SEO – Local Business Directory Listings Are Important

121856-1OpP0Q1395155684When it comes to business topics, few publications carry more credibility than Forbes magazine, one of the most-read sources for news about financial, investment and marketing advice. So when the Forbes Business Council – a group of acknowledged leaders in those fields – offered 15 tips on improving local SEO, it wasn’t the least bit surprising that a clear one-third of those tips referred directly to local business directory listings – and several others referenced elements that relate to local business directories.

Why Managing Local Business Directory Listings Is Important to Local Business Marketing

As might be expected from a major publication, a great deal of the advice offered by the Forbes experts was aimed at making your business more visible in the search engine results. The simple fact is that when people look for just about any type of service or product these days, the first thing they do is Google it, or search for it on one of the other major search engines. Anything you can do that helps search engines understand the services you offer and geographical markets you serve is guaranteed to improve your visibility in the search engine rankings.

A Good Local Business Directory Is More Than Local SEO

But there’s more to local business marketing than getting your business to appear in the featured listings when someone does a Google search for the services or products you provide. The other side of the equation is making sure your business ads appear where your customers are already likely to be reading. While many businesses take out ads on local websites – and that’s also an important part of good local online marketing, it’s also very valuable to take advantage of the free business listings offered by larger online local business directory websites like FindUsLocal.com.

Unlike sites that purely cater to businesses, Find Us Local has positioned itself as a valuable resource for your customers. In addition to a comprehensive database of local businesses, sites like Find Us Local focus on being useful to local residents and consumers. The front page of the business directory functions more like an all-in-one-place for your local customers to find out what’s happening in their city, town or neighborhood. There’s a round-up of local news stories, local weather, and upcoming events that are specific to their geographic location. Elements like these are “glue” – they make a website “sticky” by offering features that bring people back over and over again.

When you run a business that relies on customers who live within a few miles of you, this is the kind of website where you want your business to appear prominently. You want people to see your business name frequently so that it becomes familiar, so that it’s the first name that comes to mind when they need someone who provides your services. Not only will a business listing on a local business directory help search engines find your business, it will help your customers find you when they need you.

So About Those Local SEO Tips…

The tips offered by the Forbes business experts break down into a couple of different categories – ways to improve your local business listing, and ways to improve your position in the local search engine results, so let’s take a look at those two elements separately.

Tips for Getting Found on Google (and Other Search Engines)

Good local search engine optimization is a combination of both on-page elements – things you can do on your own website – and off-page elements – things on other websites that help search engines learn more about your business and services. The first is completely under your control. No one but you (or the person/company that manages your website) can make changes to what appears on your website. These five things are all things to do when you’re creating or updating your business website.

  1. Put Your Location in Your Page Titles

When people see your business in a Google search, the page title is in big print at the top of the result. It should reference both your services and your geographical location. You want them to see something like Dr. Ada Greene – Pediatric Dentist in Albany. A page title like that tells both your potential new patients and the search engines what you do and where you do it.

  1. Put Your Address On EVERY Page

Take a little space at the top or bottom of every page on your website to list your business address and contact details. If you’re building it yourself using a template, look for the “header” or “footer” section. Those are pieces that will appear at the top or bottom of every single page when people visit your website.

 

  1. Add a Find Us Page to Your Website

Or include written directions and/or a Google map on your contact page. Again, this is a clear signal to search engines that your business is located in a specific geographical area. More importantly, it helps your customers find your office, store or restaurant.

 

  1. Take Advantage of Tags with Your Location and Business

There are lots of places on your website where you can insert your city, neighborhood or region. Every photo or graphic on your website, for example, can have tags that tell search engines what the picture is about. In the “alt text” tag, for example, you can write “photo of Sweet Bakery, Las Cruces.” You can use the “Description” tag for every page on your website the same way.

 

  1. Add Local Keywords to Your Page Content

When writing directions to your store, refer to local landmarks – “across the street from Crompton Field” helps your potential customers find you, and serves as another local reference to help search engines associate your business more strongly with your city or town.

You don’t have as much control over what appears about your business on websites controlled by others, but there are lots of ways to influence those references – and get lots of quality, incoming links. Unsurprisingly, many of these tips are more about being a part of your local community than they are specifically about online marketing. These are five ways to improve offsite local SEO.

  1. Get Coverage in Local Media

When your business appears on the websites of your local newspapers, blogs and other media, your reputation with search engines gets a big boost. That doesn’t mean paying for ads – it means doing things that local reporters and bloggers want to write about. Don’t just count on them noticing that you sponsor the cheerleaders at the local high school, though. Give local reporters a heads-up when those cheerleaders appear at a local event, for example, and suggest they might want to cover it.

 

  1. Do Things in Your Community

Give a talk at the Chamber of Commerce or other local business organization’s meeting. Organize local businesses to do a Community Giveback Day. Sponsor a contest for local vendors, or get involved in one. Those things boost your profile locally, and can be lots of fun for you and your employees. The additional payoff – high profile incoming links that connect to your business website.

 

  1. Cultivate Relationships with Local Media

Get to know local reporters and columnists and drop them a line when your business is doing something in the community. You want to be in their contact lists so that when they need a comment on something for a story – say, a feature article about holiday shopping or about neighborhood revitalization – they’ll pick up the phone and call you.

 

  1. Join the Local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club or Other Business Organization

Many local business organizations maintain local business directories for members. You absolutely want to be listed there.

 

  1. Encourage Your Customers to Review Your Business Online

Customer reviews are huge factors in both your business’ reputation and its visibility online. Keep in mind that people are more likely to complain than compliment – it’s just human nature – but you can offset that by specifically ASKING satisfied customers to rate your business on review sites. Those reviews are local SEO gold. Not only will they provide a link back to your business, you can feature the best of them in your local business directory listings and on your website.

Best Local Business Directory Listing Practices

Google relies on “citations” to help it place local businesses in a geographic area. Among the best citations are local business directory listings. Taking control of your local business profiles doesn’t take much time or effort, and the results are better visibility for your business and more customers coming through your door. These five tips will help you make the most of local business directory listings.

  1. Claim Your Google My Business Profile

Your Google My Business profile is what shows up when someone in your area searches for someone local that provides a service they need. It’s to your benefit to claim that profile and make it attractive. You’ll need to provide a street address for your profile to set up a listing. Once you do, you can list it in a category, add contact information, business hours and photos that show your business at its best.

 

  1. List Your Business at Multiple Business Listings

Claim your business profile on all the major local business directories and on review sites. Make sure you pay attention to industry-specific catalogs – contractors, professional directories, etc. Every local business directory listing is a mini-landing page where customers can find and learn about your business.

 

  1. Make Sure Information Is Accurate

Inaccurate information can make your business less credible. Check your business listings on the most visible online business directories and review sites and make sure that the address, contact information and business details are consistent across all of them.

 

  1. Beyond Local Business Directory Lisitings

When you Google your business, you’ll often see local business listings on websites you don’t know or haven’t listed yourself on. Those local business directories get their information from a variety of data providers, such as Infogroup and Acxiom. Claim your business with those data providers, and make sure that your contact information and business details are accurate and up to date.

 

  1. Respond to Your Business Reviews

One of the most important things you can do on an ongoing basis is to check the reviews left for your business and respond to them. When you respond to reviews left on your business profiles, you’re letting potential customers know that you are involved and that you care enough.

4 Practical and Easy Techniques to Make Your Local Business Directory Listing More Engaging for Customers

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAgUAAAAJDExNmRhN2I4LWU2NDItNDU1YS05Yzk0LWQ1MDAxMjE0ZDg3ZgMarketing a local business online isn’t as complicated as most business owners believe. In fact, contrary to what many so-called local SEO gurus want you to believe, most of the “rules” for bringing in customers using the Internet are pretty common sense. If that’s the case, why do so many people think it’s so complicated that businesses have to pay experts to do things like create local business directory listings and manage their online presence?

If you own a local business with a website, chances are you’ve been spammed with promises to get your business listed in “hundreds of local business directories” and help you “manage your business profiles” online. In many cases, those companies use strategies that aren’t particularly helpful – and may actually hurt your business’ online reputation. Paying someone to make sure your business is included in hundreds of business directories won’t necessarily hurt your business – but it probably won’t help much. Google tech executives have indicated that LOTS of listings on random business directories aren’t as effective as a handful of well-crafted listings on well-managed local business directories like FindUsLocal.com.

In other words, the key to good local SEO is quality over quantity. In addition, the best practices for creating a good local business directory listing look surprisingly like the best practices for good customer engagement. These six tips for creating a high quality local business directory listing – and using it effectively – are practical and easy to do.

Double Check Your Listing for Accuracy

You don’t have to be a top-notch copy writer to make your business look good in a business listing, but you do have to be accurate. Double check your listing to make sure that your contact information is correct, and that there are no misspellings or typos. No one expects you to write like an English major, but they do expect you to know how to spell the name of your own business. Spelling mistakes and typos make your business look sloppy and unprofessional – and a typo in your telephone number makes it far more difficult for your potential customers to contact you.

Add Photos If You Can

Dating website owners famously tell their registered users that “profiles with pictures get more clicks.” The same is true for businesses that add photos to their local business directory listings. A picture may not be worth a thousand words, but good pictures will definitely attract the attention of potential customers. Tailor the photos you choose to the type of business you run. Use your business logo to help cement your brand image and help your customers find your business quickly and easily among all the listings. Add photos of the outside of your building, especially if it’s a locally recognizable venue. Restaurants might feature photos of their best-selling menu items. Shops could include interior photos showing product displays. Professionals such as lawyers, accountants and real estate agents – businesses that rely on client trust – could include a head shot, or an “action shot” of the business owner doing what they do best.

Provide Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Business reviews and testimonials are marketing gold. Satisfied customers are still the very best advertising for any business, and that’s truer than ever these days. These days, potential customers typically check online reviews before they buy just about anything. Local business directory sites like FindUsLocal.com often give business owners a place in their listing pages to show off testimonials and business reviews, so take full advantage of it. It’s no different than framing that great newspaper article about your place and hanging it on your wall.

Speaking of online reviews, do claim your business listing at major review sites for your industry and encourage your customers to post reviews on them. Use those reviews to gauge what your business is doing well and where it might be missing the mark. Just as importantly, take advantage of the opportunity to engage with your customers. Thank them for positive reviews, tell them how nice it was to serve them, and if you find a negative review, ask the customer to contact you so you can address their concerns.

Write a Good Business Description

The business description you write will often appear as the snippet of information that’s included in search results, so make it a good one. Keep the length in mind – in most cases, you’ll only have a short sentence or two to convince people you’re the best choice for their needs. Think of it as your elevator pitch, or your Unique Selling Proposition – short, sweet, and to the point.

A good local business directory listing does double duty when it comes to raising your business profile online. When you take the time to craft an engaging business listing, your business will benefit both from being more visible on that particular local business directory – it will also be far more likely to show up and attract attention when people search for your business on Google or other search engines.

Thirteen Tips to Power Your Local Business Directory SEO Strategy

how-to-crack-neet-2017When your business relies on customers that live nearby, you may think that online advertising isn’t that important. The fact is, your customers are every bit as likely to jump online when they’re looking for delivery pizza or a handyman as they are when they’re looking for a new pair of shoes. If you’re not thinking of local SEO and local business directory listings, you’re probably missing out on a lot of customers who are calling your competition. These six tips will help you promote your local business online through a combination of local SEO, local business directory listings and social media. Before you know it, you’ll be leaving your competition in the dust.

Start with Your Own Website

Okay. Lots of very small businesses get by with just a Facebook page, but that’s short-sighted. While you can create a good online presence without creating your own website, you risk losing it all if one or more of the websites you use changes their business model. Facebook is especially notorious for changing the way it displays listings to people. Your website is the one place where you hold complete control over what people see.  Whether you create your own website or contract with someone to do it for you, pay special attention to these five items:

  • Your domain name should be your business name or include your business name, services, and/or location.
  • Make sure your page titles include your business, location and services. A family attorney, for example, might have pages titled[Business Name] [City] Child Custody Lawyer,[Business Name] [City] Divorce Attorney, [Business Name] [City] Adoption Attorney, etc.
  • Include local details in your website copy. For example, include a map and written directions on your About or Contact page that includes local landmarks, and mention that you’re proud sponsors of the [Neighborhood] Little League team. Not only will it make your website feel more personal to customers, those local details help Google and other search engines determine that you really are a local business.

Update and Build Out Your Listings on Local Business Directory Pages

Search engines get information about your business from many places besides your own website. When your business isn’t listed on major local business directory pages – or is listed with inconsistent information – it can make you less visible in the local search results.

  • Find your business on major local business directory sites and update your listing to make sure all of the information is accurate and consistent. Include Google+ and major review sites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor to boost your visibility.
  • Include your business in local business directory sites like FindUsLocal.com, a premiere business directory that provides a unique, localized user experience for its site visitors.
  • Where you can, add photos and other information in your local directory listings to make them more attractive and engaging.
  • If you have multiple locations, list each location on a separate page in each local business directory.

Use a Good Link Strategy

Incoming links from authoritative sources are still among the most important pieces of an online promotion strategy. However, linking from “bad neighborhoods” can actually harm your online reputation.

  • Use Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts to share links to your website – but be strategic. Share links to specific pages on your website where appropriate rather than just to your main page.
  • Encourage others to share links to your website via social media.
  • Sponsor local events or teams, and ask for a link back to your website when media and other local organizations report on the events.
  • If you have the time, consider blogging about your business where you can talk about your services, your neighborhood and other businesses. Outgoing links to nearby locations and businesses also help boost your online profile.

Ask for Online Reviews and Respond to Them Often

Online reviews of local businesses provide some of the best links available to boost your business visibility. When you respond to those reviews – whether they’re positive or negative – you not only increase your credibility with customers and potential customers, you send another signal to search engines that you are an authentic local business with an engaged business owner.

  • Ask for ratings and reviews from your customers. The ask can be as simple as a sign at the checkout register or on a table card, or as personal as a quick email after you provide a service. Make it easy by providing a variety of sites where your customers can leave reviews. Local business directory FindUsLocal.com even includes a space where your customers can leave reviews of your business, which will then appear on the front page of the website when someone local visits their pages.
  • Respond to user reviews, both the good and the bad. For positive reviews, a simple thanks and “please come back soon!” goes a long way. If a review is negative, thank the customer for the feedback and ask them to contact you so you can address their concerns.

Your Local Business Directory Listing – How It Makes a Difference for Your Business

business-directoryA few months back, one of the best-known online marketing sites made a startling declaration – Google doesn’t care about local business directory listings. That would be awful news to the many business owners who’ve invested time and energy in updating their local business directory listings – if it were an accurate statement. Like so many other news stories these days, though, it’s not quite accurate.

The premise in the article was based on one small part of an answer from a Google top-tier search engine exec – and it was taken completely out of context. The statement implied that businesses shouldn’t worry about getting listed in local business directories, but he was answering a question about those shady companies that offer to get your business listed in hundreds of local business directories. Taken in context, it’s obvious that Google most certainly does care about local business directory listings – but you don’t need to be listed in hundreds of business directories. As with anything else, it’s a matter of quality over quantity.

Why Local Business Directory Listings Matter

Your listings in local business directories matter on two very different fronts. On the one hand, they help Google find you when someone in your immediate area uses the search engine to find a business near them that offers the services or products they need right now. The more links they find with your business address, the more likely it is that the algorithm will “believe” that your business is where you say it is. Listing your business on quality local business directories makes it more likely that your business will pop up when someone in your neighborhood is looking for your services.

Of course, search engines aren’t the only ones looking at local business directories, especially if those directories offer more than just business listings. Websites like FindUsLocal.com offer a great deal more than a searchable database of business listings. They offer a streamlined local user experience that’s far closer to the old-time Web portals that put links to everything important on one page so users could find exactly what they needed on one page. Listing your shop or office on a site like Find Us Local offers extra benefits – not only are you amplifying your signal to the search engines, you’re also putting your business ads in front of the people who are most likely to become your new customers – the people who live within a few miles of you.

How Your Business Gets Listed on Random Local Business Directory Sites

If you do a basic search for your business name online, chances are you’ll find links to all sorts of unexpected websites, many of which you’ve never heard. That’s because there are dozens of local business directories trying to cash in on traffic directed to them by search engines. How did your business get on them, and what should about it?

Most online business directories start with a database populated with listings of businesses pulled from publicly available sources. You don’t actually have to do a thing to get listed with them – it’s automatic. In most cases, those listings won’t help you a whole lot, and they’re not likely to hurt your search engine ranking UNLESS the information in them is inaccurate.

That’s because one of the major things that search engine algorithms look for is consistency. If the listing has an outdated phone number an inaccurate address, it shakes the reliability of the information the search engine uses to determine if you’re a business its users want to find.

So what should you do? In most cases, these directories make it easy for you to update the information about your business. More often than not, you just have to fill out a free registration form to be able to access your listing and correct any misinformation.

The Local Business Directory Listings that Make a Difference

There are a few places you absolutely should be listed, and should put a little more effort into creating an engaging business listing. These sites are ones that can have a major effect on whether or not Google, Bing and other search engines show your business when someone local is searching for your services.

Local Chamber of Commerce or Business Directory

Your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club or other social service/business organization probably has an online business directory specific to your city, town or region. Yes, you should make sure your business is listed with them. A listing on this type of local business directory is a strong signal to Google that your business really does exist.

Google My Business Page

As you would expect, Google gives its own local business directory a lot of credibility. It doesn’t take a lot of time to set up an engaging, accurate business listing on Google My Business, and it’s time well-spent.

Local Newspaper/Media Organization

If your local newspaper has a local business directory, your business should be listed in it. Newspapers – even online – are still one of the places that your customers look for information.

Review and/or Professional Business Listings

If you’re in the hospitality industry – a restaurant, tourist attraction, bed-and-breakfast or hotel, your business should be listed on the major review sites for your industry. Likewise, if you’re a professional – a lawyer, accountant, doctor, dentist, etc. – you should have your name and contact details listed in local business directories for your profession.

High Profile Local Business Directories

Finally, choose a few high-profile local business directories that offer engaging content and information for users, and make sure that your business listing is complete, accurate and engaging.

While it’s not necessary – or even desirable – to get your business listed in “hundreds” of online business directories, it’s still important to make sure you’re taking advantage of quality local business directory listings to promote and publicize your business.

Local Business Directory Reviews: How to Get and Use Them to Your Benefit

customer-reviews-2By now, you’ve probably read about all the benefits of creating a local business listing on one of the popular local business directories. These directories have taken the internet by storm as more and more consumers flock to them to find US local businesses. The reason they’ve become so popular in the past few years is because people got tired of looking for local businesses on the large search engines because frankly, they’re designed to give people national results.

So local business directories were born and savvy local business owners have had to rethink they way they bring in new business by using them.

Online Reviews are an Important Aspect of Local Business Listings

After you’ve created your local business listing on a directory like FindUsLocal.com, it’s time to put it to work for your local shop, service business, or restaurant. And one of the smartest ways to do that is to ensure you have at least ten online reviews for your business.

Today’s consumers demand social proof when looking for local businesses and online reviews are important to them. In fact, one recent study shows that people trust online reviews just as much as they do a personal recommendation from a friend or family member.

But many local business owners have questions about how to get online reviews—and then how to use them to attract new business. So we’ve put together this brief guide to help you with this important aspect of your local business marketing.

How to Get Online Reviews

Many local business owners become overwhelmed when they realize just how important online reviews are because they think they’re so difficult to get. But the truth is, another recent study shows that a full 74 percent of those people surveyed say they are open to leaving online reviews if they’re asked. In other words, if you make it a practice to ask your customers to leave a review for your business on the local business directory, they will do it. It’s just a matter of incorporating the practice into your everyday business.

Respond to Online Reviews

Whether you get raving reviews or ones that are a little less enthusiastic, it’s important for your customers to know that they’ve been listened to. By leaving a simple thank you when someone leaves you a great review, or opening an honest dialogue with those who leave less than favorable ones, you can open up the lines of communication with your customers. And quality local business directories like FindUsLocal.com make it easy with their new comments section. This allows you to leave comments directed toward your customers and community.

When You Get a Bad Review

Bad reviews happen, but the way you respond them will make all the difference in how they affect your local business. Don’t become defensive or arrogant in your response, but instead, listen to what the customer is saying and think about how you can improve your business so another customer won’t have the same experience. Thank the reviewer for their honest opinion, and then tell them how their review helped you implement some changes in the business. Other people will see your response and know that you are a local business owner who cares about the experiences of your customers.

Local business directories are changing the way local businesses operate and local reviews are an important part of that. Follow the above tips and learn how to use online reviews in your local business listings. Pretty soon, you’ll have a line out the door of people who found your business and were convinced to come because of all the great online reviews.

How to Brush Up Your Local Business Directory Listing

localmarketingListing your business in an online local business directory is an important part of any promotional strategy. These days, few businesses can flourish with just traditional marketing strategies. Ads in the local newspaper or local radio stations are still useful, but they contribute less and less value to the typical business bottom line. If you’re trying to reach new customers, online business promotion is vital. A listing in a good online local business directory can help you reach more potential customers and bring them through your door.

That said, some local business directories are better than others. While it’s helpful to at least list your business on as many directories as you can, the listings that will bring you the best results are the ones on a local business directory like FindUsLocal.com, which focuses on providing an engaging, totally local experience for the customers that are most important to you – those that live close enough to walk through your door. These 10 tips can help you create an engaging, compelling online business listing. Depending on the business directory site you’re working with, some of them might not apply. The more of these tips you can put into practice, though, the better your results will be.

Find Your Business Listings

Your first step is to find free local business directories where your business might already be listed. Many of these free local directories populate their database with business information taken from publicly available information, which means there’s always a chance that the information listed is out-of-date or incomplete. They invite business owners to “claim” their listing, a way of encouraging businesses to register with them. The signup process is usually quite simple, and well worth the little time and effort it takes. Claiming your business listing gives you access to make changes and updates to what is shown on the page.

Correct and Update Your Business Information

Customers may stumble upon your business listing in many different online directories, so you want to make sure that the information they find is accurate. When they – or a search engine – find conflicting or inaccurate information – they reasonably wonder about your business’ credibility. Make sure that the address, telephone number and hours of operation are correct, and if the site allows it, add a link to your business website and/or your business Facebook page.

List Yourself in Multiple Applicable Categories

Make it easier for your potential customers to find you by making sure your business is listed in every category that applies to what you do. The dentist office we mentioned above would obviously list their business under “Dentists,” but they should also list themselves under any specialty service – Pediatric Dentist, Family Dentist, Cosmetic Dentist, and so on. Whatever your business is, chances are that it fits under multiple categories.

 Make Sure You’re Listed in All Areas You Cover

If you do business with surrounding towns or cities, be sure that you add those areas to your local business profile. It will help customers who are only searching within their own town to find you.

Use Your Profile on the Best Online Local Business Directory Sites to Boost Your Business

Toot your own horn! If the directory allows you to write a small business blurb as a heading for your listing, use it to shamelessly promote your services. Did a local newspaper award you a Best Of prize? Make sure you mention it. At the very least, include your business tag line so that potential customers know what sets you apart from the others.

Upload a Business Picture

If it’s an option, add a picture – or more than one – to your business listing. It can be a photo of your location, or a professional head shot of yourself, or an attractive photo of some of your best-selling products.

Add Positive Reviews in the Comments

If there’s a space for testimonials or positive reviews from past customers, get them up there. Most potential customers will read reviews and recommendations from friends and neighbors before they make a decision on using a particular business. Make it easier for them by posting any testimonials and reviews you have. The easiest way to get those recommendations is to ask satisfied customers if they’d be willing to write a quick note about their experience working with you.

 Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews

If the local business directory allows customers to leave reviews for business, it’s even easier to get those recommendations. Send happy customers to your local directory listing to rate and review your services. You can add a link to your listing on your Facebook business page or website to make it even easier.

Go Through Any Reviews and Respond to Them

Make this a regular part of your business promotion routine. Check your profile regularly – or sign up for notifications if the option is available – so that you can thank customers for positive reviews or address any problems in a timely manner.

A Note About Bad Reviews

A bad review is not the end of the world! While some advisers recommend removing bad reviews from your local business listings, that wisdom is changing. In fact, a few not-so-great reviews make your business profile look more honest. Interestingly, what one customer finds “bad” could be exactly what another customer is looking for. Even more importantly, when potential customers see you responding to unhappy customers and offering to make things right, their impressions of the business and owner tend to get better. So – unless a review is a total hit piece – resist the temptation to remove it, and instead, address it publicly, even if all you say is, “Please call us so that we can resolve that issue.”

While it may seem like a chore to update and spruce up your local business directory listings, it really takes much less time than you’d expect – and the benefits are worth every minute you spend on them.

Local Business Directory: How to Get the Most Out of Your Local Online Business Listing

kbux_local_business_directory_quartzsite_2.pngNot so long ago, when you needed a plumber or a hairdresser or a great place for chicken cacciatore, you asked your friends for a recommendation. If that didn’t work, you picked up the phone book and checked the Yellow Pages, or you checked the classifieds and the ads in the local newspaper. If you were lucky, you might even find a coupon that you could cut out and bring in to get a discount on the “best cacciatore in the city.”

Times have changed. Many homes don’t even have a phone book – or even a home telephone. Newspaper subscriptions – especially for local newspapers – are at an all-time low, and your friends? They’re leaving their recommendations for their favorite just-about-anything on review sites, Facebook and their favorite local business directory. If your business doesn’t have a vibrant and active online presence these days, you’re missing out on the best customer referral strategies ever created.

But before you jump in and start marketing your business online – or if you’ve tried to do that with little success, there’s a few things you should know.

All Online Local Marketing Methods Are Not Created Equal

Many business owners start from the premise of creating their own website. It’s a good start, but as many learned, simply creating a website for your business isn’t enough. This was especially true in the earliest days when small local businesses were competing head-to-head with national corporations that had money to burn on advertising and gaming Google. If your customers searched for “pizza delivery,” for example, Google would point them to the ubiquitous national pizza chains. If the little brick oven pizzeria on the corner showed up at all, it would be on the second or third page of the search engine listings, where most local customers would never find them.

To be fair, Google, and by extension other major search engines, have come a long way in helping people find businesses that are geographically close to them. That’s only half the battle, though. If one of those national chains has a franchise in your area – and odds are that they do – their listings will still come up ahead of yours unless you do a bit of work to make sure your business gets found.

The Beauty of a Local Business Directory

Enter the local business directory. Local business directories are designed to highlight small businesses operating in a particular city or town. Some are little more than a database of businesses with basic information, sorted by type of business. Others, like FindUsLocal.com, are far more elaborate and offer more value for the time you invest in claiming and refining your listing, such as reviews, news and community connections. There’s more to your business listing than just the on-site benefits, though.

When you make sure your business is listed in as many local small business directories as possible, you’re really leveraging a lot more than just the power of the business directory.

Five Benefits of Using an Online Local Business Directory as Part of Your Marketing Strategy

  1. You’ll be putting your business in front of the people who are most likely to patronize your business. If you’re making pizzas, you’ll find most of your customers within 5 miles of your business location. It only makes sense to use geographical targeting to get your name out to those folks.
  2. You can use your local business listing to funnel traffic to your business website and social media pages, where folks can learn more about your services or make purchases.
  3. Every business listing in a local business directory serves as a “citation” – a signal that helps search engines like Google figure out where your store is located. That way, even people who use Google to find great local businesses will be more likely to find your business.
  4. A good local business directory can serve as a central location where folks in your neighborhood can read the reviews from many different online review sites in one place.
  5. Being listed in a business directory that allows nearby neighbors to search by service or industry is like having a dedicated niche on a community bulletin board.

A Basic Local Business Directory Strategy

The best online promotion strategy for local businesses includes making sure you claim your business profile on as many local directories as you can find – but that doesn’t mean you should put the same amount of effort into each listing. This section is about taking the simplest, most basic steps to elevate your online business profile using local business directories. In the next section, you’ll find more advanced, specialized strategies that you should use on business directories that offer you more options.

  1. Search for your business name and city on Google or another search engine. You’ll see your business listed on many websites you’ve never heard of. Most of these are online business directories that compile basic listings from public resources.
  2. Visit your listing on each business directory. There will be a link asking if this is your business or inviting you to claim your listing. It’s always to your benefit to do that.
  3. Check that the information listed is correct and complete.
  4. If there are errors or missing information, correct or supply it. The more citations Google finds with the same information, the more credibility they’ll give your business when people do searches. The more credibility Google gives you, the more likely it is that your business will come up high in the search engine listings when people search for your services.
  5. Visit the home page of the local business directory to evaluate the quality of each. Make sure that you have geolocation services turned on in your browser so you’ll see exactly what others in your area see when they visit the site. (Hint: websites that use geo-location services will usually ask if you want to share your location with the website. Clicking “yes” will show you information that’s most relevant to your city, town or neighborhood.)

Leverage Your Local Listing with the Best Local Business Directory

Once you’ve narrowed down your target business directories to one or two, you can work on a more targeted local online visibility strategy for your business. These tips and hints will help you make the most of your local directory listings.

  • You’ll get the best results from local business directories that offer up-to-date features. FindUsLocal.com, for example, uses geo-location services to show you information that’s targeted for your immediate area. This is a huge benefit for your customers who don’t have to wade through listings of businesses that our outside their service area – and that makes it easier for them to find you.
  • Does the front page of the business directory you’re looking at offer news and other features that draw people to the site? While most local business directories keep their focus on letting people search for businesses, the most popular ones serve up features that bring visitors back to the site again and again. With community newspapers going out of business or focusing on national and international news, these local directory sites take up the slack by showing news stories that are most relevant to the town in which you’re located. The more often they visit, the more likely they are to see your local listing. If you choose to pay for a premium listing (usually at very reasonable rates), they’ll see your listing featured over and over again.
  • Any small local news site will tell you that event listings and calendars are among their most popular features. Some directories, like Find Us Local, prominently feature upcoming events on their auto-personalized front page. They include concerts, sports events, theater and other events happening soon, and even provide links to ticket-buying services for the convenience of their site users.
  • A business directory that allows people to leave reviews offers even more value for your business. People like to shop and dine at businesses that their friends like. Good reviews will bring more people to your business than any amount of advertising. While you’re at it, make sure the local directory site allows you to comment on any reviews left by customers. Those reviews offer you a chance to thank customers for patronizing your business and reach out to those whose experiences were less positive. People will actually have more faith in a business that responds publicly to a review with negative points than in those with only stellar reviews.

 

Pulling It All Together – Three Take-Away Points on Using a Local Business Directory Strategy

  1. Find and standardize your business listing on as many online local business directories as possible. They only take a few minutes each if you stick to the most important information: business name, address, hours and contact information.
  2. Wherever possible, make sure your website address – including your Facebook page or Twitter account if you use them for promoting your business – are listed and accurate.
  3. When you find a local business directory like Find Us Local, take advantage of everything they offer to boost your business profile among the people most likely to patronize you. Because Find Us Local goes out of its way to keep local readers coming back for more, they provide your business with the best opportunity to be seen by the customers that are most important to your business.

Increase Your Online Visibility with Your Local Business Directory Listing

sales-growthIf you’re a small business that relies on a local customer base, you already know that online visibility is vital to bringing those customers through your doors. In just a few short years, the entire world of small business marketing has turned topsy-turvy. Tried and true methods of promoting your business no longer deliver the results they did just 15 to 20 years ago. Local newspapers, which used to be the mainstay for local business advertising, have largely gone out of business or been gobbled up by enormous national media companies. The few local papers that remain have ever-decreasing circulation numbers – and advertising in the bigger newspapers is cost-prohibitive for most smaller businesses. Even the most basic of all local business advertising venues, the local phone directory, is little help. More and more households are opting out of land line phone service, and fewer and fewer even have a phone book in the house.

Today’s small business owners know that if they’re going to be competitive, they need to have an online footprint that makes it easy for potential customers to find them. It’s not enough to just create a website when you’re looking for local customers. The Internet is huge, and your business is competing with dozens, hundreds, thousands of other people offering the same products and services, and many of them have very deep pockets when it comes for paying for advertising. When you’re operating with a limited online advertising budget, you have to get strategic. One very effective strategy is to use local online business directories to increase your online visibility and your chances of being found by customers in your immediate geographic area. Here are five strategies that will help you attract more customers using an online business directory like FindUsLocal.com.

Inbound Links Increase the Visibility and Credibility of Your Website

First things first. It’s not absolutely necessary to have a website, but local businesses with websites are easier to find.  It’s most effective to have a Web address that matches your business name, and a .com extension is still the easiest for most people to remember. On the other hand, ICANN – the authority that assigns domain names – has recently released a slew of new top level domains (TLDs), making it easier than ever to customize a business domain name that’s easy to remember. Whatever domain name you choose, though, your website should display, at the very least, your business contact information, including your address, telephone number and hours of operation. A professional website is the linchpin of your online marketing strategy, and the only piece of online real estate where you control every piece of content.

However, even the perfect website is just a pretty page if your customers can’t find it. That’s where online business directory listings come in. When people in your area search for someone to trim their trees, deliver Chinese food or take photos at their wedding, they’ll usually start their search on Google or another search engine. One of the major factors the search engine algorithm considers is how many other reliable, well-known websites link to your business website. Listing your business in a local business directory serving your city – or in several – increases the chances that your customers will see your website when they do a search for a business nearby to fulfill their needs.

List Your Business in the Right Categories

An online business directory doesn’t just provide an alphabetical list of businesses in your city. That would be pretty useless, right? Get listed in business directories that allow you to choose the categories in which your business is listed. Think about the various services your business provides, and list yourself under as many categories as apply. If you’re a photographer, for example, you’d obviously list yourself under Photographers, but don’t stop there. Do you do event shoots? Weddings? Graduation photos? Family portraits? List yourself under Wedding Services and Event Services. If you’ve done photos for real estate listings or catalogs, list yourself under Advertising and Real Estate. Each of those categories will generate another inbound link to your business website – and make sure that you’re not overlooked when customers are looking for a service you provide.

While you’re at it, make sure you list your business in all the towns and surrounding areas that your business serves. It only makes sense to let customers in outlying areas know that you want their business, too.

Use Multiple Directories

There are dozens of local business directory websites around. Most are pretty basic – even those that routinely come up at the top of the search engine listings. It’s still to your benefit to “claim” your business listing on those. Claiming your listing is nearly always free, and it allows you to make sure all the information about your business is accurate. That’s important, because even small inaccuracies – an outdated telephone number, for example – can damage your business’ online credibility. If you can add a link to your website or social media profiles, all the better. You’ll gain a citation and an inbound link.

Get the Perks of Geo-Location Services

Save your real effort for a local business directory that offers you extra benefits. Some directories are more than just directories – they also serve as online portals where people can get local news, learn about upcoming events in their area, and follow interesting local people and businesses. FindUsLocal.com excels at this type of personalized landing page, encouraging people to drop by their site frequently to check in on local happenings. The people who are most likely to walk through your door are more likely to see your business listing on a site they visit frequently.

Capitalize on Reviews

More than ever, people rely on reviews from former customers to help them decide which business to call when they’re ready to buy. Listing your business on a local business directory that allows customers to leave reviews gives you one more boost in the online marketplace. Encourage your customers to drop by your business listing and leave a review, and if you can, add links to other positive reviews in comments on your own listing. Good reviews will help convince potential customers to visit your website or call your business instead of your competitors.

4 Ways Local Business Directories can Rock Your Local Marketing

0107_improve-800x480Local business owners across the nation are rethinking about the way they market their local business because it’s become clear that the old school ways of marketing simply don’t work anymore. Not so long ago, all local business owners had to do was run an ad in their community newspaper, ask for referrals from their existing customers, or take out a display ad in the local phone book. But today’s consumers don’t use any of those things to find US local businesses. Instead, they use their laptops and smartphones to look online when they want to find local businesses.

But that’s a problem for many local business owners because they either don’t have a website, or they haven’t invested the thousands of dollars it takes to get their website listing high in the search engine rankings. And that’s why so many successful shop and restaurant owners are turning to local business directories for help.

Local Business Directories are the Number One Choice of Consumers

In the early days of the internet, people had to try and find US local businesses on the large search engines, but those results were often hidden on the later pages so they were never really seen. That’s because Google and Bing often give preference to national chains and online stores with big marketing budgets. But that doesn’t help those consumers trying to find US local businesses and that’s why they’ve turned to local business directories.

If you are still on the fence about whether or not you should create a local business listing on a quality local business directory like FindUsLocal.com, here are 4 things that just may change your mind.

Use it as a Spring Board

Even if you already have a website, you can use a local business directory listing to bring traffic in to your own website. That’s because on your local business listing, you’ll have the opportunity to list your website and consumers can click on the link to visit it. There, you can give them additional details about your business, or even steer them toward your online booking page or other actions you want them to take.

Appeal to Those in Your Community

One of the best reasons to claim your listing on a local business directory is that it will be seen by the people in your community. Think about it: only the people who want to find US local businesses in your area will use the local directory, and that makes it even more probable that they will find your business.

Get Those All Important Citations

The large search engines use search engine spiders to seek out information on local businesses, and when they find a citation, such as local business listing, they attribute them to that business. And when a local shop or restaurant accumulates enough of these citations, it boosts their ranking in the search engine rankings. And one of the most effective citations out there are local business directories.

Local Customers can Tell Others About Your Business

Finally, when your customers are happy with your business, they can go to your local business listing and leave an online review for others in your community to read. Recent studies have shown that today’s consumers like to read a few reviews before they decide whether or not to buy from it. And that’s just another reason to be found on local business directories—so the people in your community can tell others about their great experience with your shop or restaurant.

Local business directories are an important part of today’s marketing for local shops, and if you’re not already listing, it’s a great time to get started. Just head on over to FindUsLocal.com and see how easy it is to ensure that your local business is found.

How to Get the Best Results from Your Local Business Listing

advantage-of-local-search-resultsBy now, you’ve heard about the importance of creating a local business listing on local business directories like FindUsLocal.com. Today’s consumers don’t want to have to wade through all of the unhelpful results they see on the large search engines. For example, if they were looking for a local bakery, and typed those words into the search engine bar, they may see online bakeries, recipes for baked goods, and even schools where someone can take baking classes. Not exactly helpful is it?

But when they conduct their search on a local business directory, they will only see a list of the local bakeries in their area. Then they are free to check out the hours of operation, reviews, and comments left by the business owner and all the other details that would help them decide whether or not to visit it.

But if you’re serious about attracting new business by listing your shop or restaurant on a local business directory, there are some things you know, because if you don’t set up your local business the right way, it could actually hurt your search engine results. That’s because the search engine spider travel the web looking for all references to your business, and if there are conflicting signals, your results won’t be attributed to your business, and in the long run, that will hurt your search engine rankings.

So, how do you best set up your local business listing on local business directories like FindUsLocal.com? By paying attention to the following important details.

Your Local Business Name

Unless you know how the search engine spiders work, you might be tempted to think your local business is just your name. After all, how complicated does it have to be, right? But let’s take a look at it from the search engine spider’s point of view. These spiders crawl the web looking for any and all references to your business, and the amount of references you have determines how high up in the rankings the search engine will show your store or restaurant. So, imagine that your local business was named ABC Flowers on Main, Inc. On some local business directories, you listed your business as ABC Flowers, on others you input it as ABC Flowers on Main, and still on others you listed it as ABC Flowers on Main, Inc.

If you were a search engine spider, how would you know which of these local business listings to attribute to a business? Would you think they were all the same local business or different shops with slightly different names?

As you can see, it’s your job to make things easier for the search engine spiders to every single local business listing you create is attributed to your shop or restaurant.

Your Local Business Address

Take that same philosophy and apply it to your local business address. For example, if you were listing ABC Flowers on Main and your street address was 123 Main Street, you could list it as 123 Main, 123 Main Street, or 123 Main St. Just as you do with your business name, be sure your address is exactly the same on every single local business listing you create.

Your Local Phone Number

When you enter your business phone number into your local business listing, you’ll need to decide whether or not to include your area code. For instance, if your phone number is (123) 123-1234, you can either enter it that way or as 123-1234. Because not all of your potential customers will be from your local area (Out of town visitors may look up your store to visit when they’re in the area), we recommend including your area code on the local business directory listing.

Your Website Address

If you’re one of the few local business owners to have a website address, you’ll need to take the same approach when creating your local business listing. Some business owners give the entire URL including the http:// at the beginning of the website address, while others prefer to leave it off. The choice is yours, but be sure that you do it the same way every time you create a local business listing.

Local business directories are one of the most important ways to get the word out about your local business, but only if you follow the above suggestions closely. If you don’t and your local business listings don’t match, you won’t see the spectacular results that so many local business owners enjoy after creating their own local listings.