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How to Grow Your Small Business with Local Search Listings

One of the most vital aspects of your small business marketing plan should be the awareness and cultivation of local search listings.  These listings are crucial in getting your small business’ name and reputation out there to a wide range of potential local customers.

These days, internet-based local business listings are often the first things people will see concerning your small business.  As the saying goes – first impressions are usually the longest lasting.  So it is imperative that you are aware of these listings – and are also equipped for using them to your small business’ advantage.

When it comes to modern day local business listings online – the big three are undoubtedly Google+, Facebook, and Yelp.  Once you’ve learned how to navigate these websites and the various opportunities they afford your small business – you’ll be well on your way towards capturing the attention of future customers.

Google for Small Business

Let’s start with Google+, which is the Google search engine’s social network.  This is critical for your small business because it is integrated with Google Search and Google Maps, the most used tools people use for finding local businesses and services. When local people do a google search, it’s Google+ that provides your small business’ contact details – so it is important to keep this information up to date on their website (The same, of course, goes for Facebook and Yelp as well).

Google+ is such a vital part of local search cultivation because, according to Google+ Brands, 35% of consumers use the Google search engine as their first choice when it comes to looking for local small businesses which have the potential to help them meet their needs.  Indeed, setting up a Google+ account for your small business will connect you to over 300 million active Google search engine users.  That is an astounding number of people!

On top of all that, the Google Maps interface allows both web and mobile users to select the most relevant businesses closest to them.  Along with the name of that particular small business comes contact information, address (both online and in the real world), pictures, and ratings.  So, as you can see, it is even more imperative to update your small business’ information and photos on Google+.  You should also keep yourself up to date with the various ratings and reviews you may receive through the Google search engine – and deal with negative comments in the most constructive manner possible.

To create or edit your Google+ listing, go to www.google.com/business.

Facebook for Small Business

Another big opportunity for local small business search listings is Facebook, the online social networking website boasting a user base of 1.2 billion people.  That’s more than a seventh of total world population!  Astounding!  In fact, according to a recent study by Neustar/Localeze and 15 Miles, Facebook accounts for 92% of business searches on social media.

The Facebook audience is one you cannot afford to neglect.  Recently, Facebook released Facebook Local Search for their mobile apps.  Facebook Local Search allows potential customers to see if and how their friends liked a business.  Ratings and reviews from people they trust are a powerful way to get them to purchase and/or use goods and/or services.

To create a Facebook business page, go to www.facebook.com/pages/create/

Yelp for Small Business

The third pillar in the online small business local search listings pantheon is Yelp.  Yelp is an online business review guide, which allows potential customers to connect with local small businesses.  Yelp has been so effective in this task that it has, according to Nielsen in 2014, an average of 132 million visitors per quarter.  And of those 132 million potential customers, 44% actually visit a local business after viewing that local business’ Yelp page.  41% make a purchase during that visit.

That is the power of Yelp.  One moment, a potential customer hasn’t even heard of your small business.  Then, through the Yelp app, they’re able to see what you are, what kinds of goods and services you provide, where you are located), how to get there (Yelp recently partnered with Yahoo! and Mapquest – along with ratings and reviews.  And in moments, they could be at your small business making purchases!

Other Online Listings

Other online listing sites include Dexknows, YP, and Yellowbook.  It is important to ensure your business is listed on all of these sites with accurate, up to date information and pictures.  “Claim” your small business’ name on each of these websites.  Make changes when they become necessary and be sure to delete any possible duplicate pages.

Optimize Your Online Listings

It is not a good idea to confuse your potential customers.  Local sites like Google +, Yelp, and TripAdvisor hold a lot of weight in search results, as you have seen above, so it’s important that you have the correct information available on each of your small business’ listing pages.

Along with accurate, up to date small business information, it is important to make sure your small business is listed in the appropriate categories on each search listings site.  This way, your listing page can be properly optimized for search engines.  (Once your small business is properly optimized, more and more potential customers will be alerted to its existence.)  Relevent keywords within your small business’ name help in getting noticed by as many people as possible as well. Although, keep in mind, it is equally important not to overdo it with unnecessary keywords in your small business’ name.  Otherwise, search engines will take note and it will negatively impact your results.

Also make sure you include nice photos of your business in each listing. This should start with a quality photograph of your storefront with your store sign or banner as it would be seen from the street. If you don’t have a storefront, get your business vehicle wrapped with graphics and include a good picture of that.

Optional Automation

In order to further your small business search engine listings, it may be advisable to work with a top listings provider such as Neustar Localeze or Acxiom.  These various listing providers will allow you to automate the process of securing and updating your listings across the broad ecosystem of local sites.  It is time consuming to keep up with every single one of these listings sites, especially when they are attempting to run a successful small business as well, so these listings providers can aid you mightily in that endeavor.

If your small business happens to have multiple locations, you should create separate listings for each location on your website.  This way, these multiple pages will help to boost the visibility of both your small business’ brand and each of your brick and mortar store brands as well.

There you have it: now you are well on your way towards even greater numbers of potential customers than you were before!  Local search listings are a powerful and invaluable way to cultivate name recognition among members of your local community.  And this will go a long way towards creating lasting, trusting relationships with your small business’ customers.

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