Online Business Listings
Free Business Listings Work
One of the most effective, and most overlooked, online traffic and SEO resources is free - your online business listing.
What Are They?
We have probably all seen and used online business listings. When a Google search returns a boxed area with business name, image, and contact details - that’s an online business listing. When a Google Maps search provides a list of local businesses and pins on the map, those are also online business listings.
Where to Start
Clients have asked asked how to appear in those desirable positions. The answer is very simple: Create or claim your business listing on Google My Business. The listing is free. The process is fairly simple. The results can be astounding.
Control Your Address
Among the first things required is your business address. Working from home and don’t want to announce the location? No problem! Google My Business allows you to specify a service area, but keep your business address private.You will still need to enter the full address, but you can prevent it from being shown to the public.
Build a Great Listing
Google has suggestions for creating and completing your business listing. A logo image is good, but make sure it will show nicely. Pictures of your business, a good description, link to your web site, phone number, hours of business, and other details make your listing more useful.
Google doesn’t just take your word that a business exists and is controlled by you. They verify the claim by calling a known business phone number (rarely), or by sending a postcard to the business address given by you (almost always). Be sure to catch that postcard and enter the code, or your business listing is not shown.
Google business listings also allow people to post reviews. Pay attention to what people say. Thank people for good reviews and respond carefully to negative comments. You can dilute the effect of negative reviews, and even turn them into assets.
You can encourage reviews, but there is a fine line between mentioning that reviews are welcome gaming the system. It is extremely unwise to attempt to manipulate any online rating system. That includes Google, Bing, Yelp, and all others. Most have very good methods of detecting what they regard as fraud, and the public are not often kind to those who try to fool them. Check Google’s Guidelines for managing reviews for details, and remember to check and reply to reviews.
Don’t Stop Yet!
Got your listing set up and verified? Great! There is another important online business listing service - Microsoft’s Bing Places for Business. Before you ask “Who uses Bing?” we’ll tell you: Current data shows that about 1/3 of Internet searches use Bing or Yahoo (which is served by Bing). So, unless you prefer to skip free marketing to one third of online searchers, sign up with Bing.
Using Bing Places
Bing is pretty easy. You will need a user name and password for the Bing account, but you can choose to login using the Google account you used for that business listing. If you complete your Google listing first, you can usually import details of your business listing from Google to Bing, saving time and keeping the consistent.
Once you have your online business listings with Google My Business and Bing Places set up properly, it might be a good idea to search for you business online. Many other online business listing services exist, such as the Yellow Pages. You should probably go through the process of claiming and updating those listings, too. They may not be very important, but they cost nothing.
One More Point
Make sure your name, address, and phone number are the same on all listings. The logo image on these shoudl be the same, and should match your business web site and social media accounts. Make your brand identity stronger by mkaing itthe same everywhere.