Local secrets

Small business owners are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest online marketing tools. And aside from the obvious platforms like Facebook or Instagram, there is another extremely powerful tool that is all too often overlooked and one that could have a huge effect on bottom-line sales: Local listings. Having your business included in local listings, while it may not be the most glamorous SMB marketing tactic, has been shown to have a true material impact on awareness and customer growth for small businesses.

Helping the main street? business owner
Every day, more and more customers are turning to the internet and sites like Google, Yahoo!, Bing and YP.com to discover and learn about the businesses around them. Listing your business on these types of local directories can also help provide answers to many basic business questions that might otherwise need to be answered by phone, such as a business? location, hours of operation and core product or service offerings.

Additionally, more often than not, your small business may already have an existing presence on one or more of these popular local directories. Claiming your businesses and taking charge of that outlet can be an extremely powerful addition to any digital marketing strategy.

Why Local Search is critical
Many small business owners are under the impression that doing offline, community-based outreach will have the biggest effect on local awareness and intent to purchase. While these efforts can and do pay off, most tech-savvy customers these days will be more inclined to do research on the internet prior to making a decision about visiting a local business. It is crucial to have a presence on the websites your customers are turning to when they’re looking for a particular product of service. And as luck would have it, not carving out a space for your business in popular local search sites could unfortunately send customers straight through your competition’s door.

The Local Difference
Not only can having a local search strategy improve a small businesses? ranking in online search results, it has also been shown to directly impact sales. In fact, comScore research shows that more than half of all local searches result in a purchase, making local listings an important resource for all small businesses. Local listings also provide another platform for small business owners to communicate with potential and current customers alike. Whether customers are posting photos, comments or reviews, local directories are great places to generate dialog surrounding your small business with people in your community.

A shift from the traditional
While local directories have been around for some time, they are quite fragmented and require small businesses to register with each individually to submit business details. While this manual approach works, it can often become so time-consuming that small business owners are unable to keep up, causing them to miss out on a large part of their potential market. The good news is there are services available that can complete this once daunting task is done with a few clicks of a button and even monitor local search pages after they’ve been created making it more feasible for busy business owners and ultimately putting them directly in touch with local customers they may have otherwise missed.

Tips for Success:

  1. Accuracy is everything. Make sure that all of your business information is accurate, up-to-date and visible on local directories. Many of your customers will find you on Google Maps or YP.com because they’re looking for something simple, like a phone number or address. Therefore it’s crucial that all of this pertinent company information is correct and readily available.
  2. Don’t miss out on the great opportunity that local listings provides to interact with your audience. Whether their feedback is positive or negative, customer comments and ratings of your business make excellent springboards for generating dialog with your customers. Also of note, in the case of negative response, your responses can mean the difference of losing an unhappy customer forever, or persuading them to give your business another shot.
  3. Don’t forget to drive customers back to your website. Local listings sites should be an important piece of your overall digital marketing strategy, but don’t forget to redirect your audience back to your business? online hub for the full experience and best results.
  4. See if your local customers can find you. Check out this nifty tool from Webs that will tell you how often your business appears on local search engines.