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To get new customers in the door, your business has to be able to be found by consumers. This used to be done through physical directories, like the Yellow Pages. Needed a plumber? You’d just leaf through the directory to find one in your area. Looking for a restaurant address? Out came the book again. This is no longer the case—the ways consumers find new businesses has changed a lot in recent years.
Now when looking for local business information consumers turn to the internet, using their smartphone, tablet, laptop, or whatever device is most accessible. In addition to search engines like Google or Bing, consumers are using city guides like Citysearch, review sites like Yelp, and mobile apps like Foursquare to discover new businesses. This is great news because there are now even more ways for new customers to find you. But it also creates a bit of a problem: there are now more places for you to manage. Many of these listings are automatically generated and can often contain incorrect or out-of-date information. This incorrect or out-of-date information is not the first impression you want someone to have of your business. That’s why it’s so important to be in control of your online listings.
Here are 6 ways to do it:
1. Identify your industry’s hot spots
Take the time to identify the places that your target audience is turning to when searching for businesses similar to yours. The best way to do this is to search for your business on a site like Google and see what type of results show up. Be on the lookout for any publishers that specialize in your particular industry, as they will offer the biggest opportunity to reach your next great customer. Once you have an inventory of the information that’s out there, you can start to take steps to control it.
2. Claim your listings
A lot of the top publishers will give you the opportunity to “claim” your listings. This is something all businesses should take advantage of. Claiming your listings lets you take control of the information that people are finding on these sites. You can manually update contact information, upload photos, and even share updates about specials and promotions, depending on the platform you decide to use.
3. Optimize your website with location information
Publishers like TripAdvisor or UrbanSpoon rely on your websites to populate their platforms.
Making sure your contact information is up to date on your own site will help avoid having potential new customers sent to the wrong location.
4. Offer location information to data aggregators
As you may suspect, collecting information from across the web and publishing it in a single location is hard work. That’s why many of the top publishers rely on data aggregators to provide relevant information about your brand. While it’s natural to want to be protective of your information online, making basic information like location available to these companies can go a long way in keeping your listings up-to-date.
5. Encourage reviews and recommendations on social
You may not realize it, but the interactions you have on social media can positively impact your search result rankings. They will improve your chances of getting the highest quality of information in front of potential customers when they’re searching for your business online. Encouraging your fans and followers to share feedback and interact with your business on sites like Yelp or Foursquare will also help ensure the quality of user-generated content.
6. Pay to sponsor listings
Just like you can pay to promote posts on sites like Facebook or Twitter, you can also pay to sponsor your listing on a number of the top listing sites. This is another option you may want to consider after identifying the places where potential customers are most likely to be looking. While this won’t help update information on other sites, it will increase the visibility of your best information on your most important platforms.
So there you have it. Updating your businesses info where it is listed across the internet is the first (and most important!) step to ensuring your next great customer is able to find you when they go looking.
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Ellen Williams, Constant Contact Regional Development Director, New York and Southern Connecticut
Ellen has over 20 years of technology and marketing experience and has presented to over 4,000 small businesses, nonprofits, and associations. Her advice on best practices help organizations understand how to build great customer relationships that inevitable grow their businesses.