By Monique Martin
Yellow Pages and old-school print business directories are rapidly becoming things of the past. But if you aren’t using their online counterparts to market your business, you’re missing a trick and a heck of a lot of traffic. Online business directories are a simple and, best of all, free way to get great exposure for your business.
It used to be that if you wanted to search locally, you had to include the name of your city or neighborhood. Now Google, along with a host of other Web sites, are doing that work for you. By using geo-targeting methods including IP tracking, they’re automatically serving up local content first.
For example, do a search for “bike shops” on Google. Notice anything about the results? Not only are local businesses ranked high in organic search, but they have their own section: Local business results. The top seven spots, also known as the 7-Pack, are highly coveted. And you can see why. To add your company to the “local business results,” simply add your business to Google’s Local Business Center.
Yahoo handles the same search, “bike shops,” in a similar way. The results on the first page are organic, based on keywords and rank. But in the left-hand sidebar, you’ll see Yahoo! Local and Local Business Sites. Those results are all based on geo-targeting, automatically populating results based on your location. Basic listings on Yahoo! Local are free and easy to create.
If you performed the “bike shops” search on Yahoo! you probably noticed Yelp in the left-hand sidebar. Yelp is steadily gaining ground in the marketplace and is currently ranked as the 53rd most popular site in the U.S. You can set-up a business profile for free by creating an account.
It’s important to remember that Yelp is a review-driven local guide, which can be a boon for your business. You need to keep your information up-to-date and respond to any reviews. It’s a mixture of the traditional business listing and social media; so make sure you stay on top of things to get the most out of it.
Similar to Yelp, Citysearch is a local guide. To make sure your company has a presence there, go to citysearch.com and search for your business. If you find it in the results, claim it so you can keep the information up to date. Look for the “Own this business?” link. If your business doesn’t appear in the results, you should see a link to “Add Business.” Simply follow the steps to create your profile.
Along with traditional marketing methods and leveraging social media, these directories should be part of any savvy marketing plan.
About the Author
Monique Martin served as chief operating officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.