With consumers going online more frequently to look for information about local businesses, online channels such as local search have emerged as affordable and effective places in which to advertise.
The first step in building your business’s online presence is to claim it on the local business listing sections of the major search engines. These sections allow you to list your local business for free. Local business listings (LBLs) are available through Google Local Business CenterOpens in a new window, Yahoo LocalOpens in a new window and Local Listing CenterOpens in a new window on BingOpens in a new window. Be sure to follow the business listing quality guidelines on each site. For example, search engines typically display local search results if the search query includes a regional term.
To optimize your LBLs, make sure to do the following:
spend time on your business description;
keep your business branding consistent;
collect customer testimonials, ratings and reviews; and
include photos, logos and videos where applicable.
Also, don’t just focus your business listings on ranking. Instead, think of them as a form of social media advertising. LBLs encourage customer reviews, so be sure to respond to customer feedback about your business when you get it. Use this information to improve your business image and customer relationships.
Another way to advertise your business online is to create listings on internet yellow pages and other local search sites. These listings help improve your rankings for LBLs on the major search engines, as well as help you capture a significant portion of the local search market.
While LBLs are a good place to start, there’s no guarantee that your business listing will be displayed. Similarly, your range of control over your business’s local rankings is limited to standard LBL best practices. Therefore, paid search marketing is another tool for local businesses to use to establish online presences.