Being local gives you the unique advantage of connecting with your community, interacting directly with clients, and creating relationships built on trust – the ones that help you compete with the big brand down the street.
If you have a local business, then you have a major advantage over online retailers and other websites trying to rank well in Google. That advantage is local search. Instead of having to compete with thousands to potentially millions of competing websites globally, local businesses can focus their energy on ranking well in local search and only facing their local competitor’s websites. One way to do this is make sure that your business is listed with the right local directories and review sites.
Choosing the Right Local Directories & Review Sites
When it comes to submitting and claiming your listings on local directories and review sites, the options can seem endless. Here is how to determine which local directories and review sites are best for your business.
1. Search for your business on Google.
First, search for your business on Google. Chances are your business is already listed on some local directories and review sites (regardless of whether or not you have “claimed” them). Any profile you see listed on page one or two of search results should be claimed. Simply go to your profile and look for a link that asks if you own the business or want to claim your listing:
Why? If someone looks up your business in order to find or submit reviews, they might run into any of these networks. Be sure you have already put your best foot forward on these networks by claiming your listing.
When it comes to leaving reviews for local businesses, there are a few well-known names to choose from including (but not limited to) the following:
Whenever you’re thinking about local directories and review sites, don’t count out social media as part of your strategy. Local social networks like Foursquare should be on your agenda of sites to claim a listing on if your business has a lot of incoming customers. Facebook also offers local features when you set up your Facebook page as a local business. You can see some good examples when you go to their Pages browser and look under Local Businesses.
2. Sign up for the main search engines’ local directories.
The three major search engines – Google, Yahoo, and Bing – each have their own local directory and review system. Google is more than likely going to be your main source of traffic, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure you are covered on Yahoo and Bing as well.
- Google uses Google+ pages for local businesses . Local listings on Google+ are free.
- Yahoo has a Yahoo Local section. Basic listings are free and enhanced listings which offer more photos and enhanced content cost $9.99 per month.
- Bing has a Bing Local section. Listings are free.
3. Find additional citation sources by category or city.
- The Best U.S. Citation Sources by Category will help you find the best local directories and review sites for your business type. Restaurants, for example, will want to take advantage of sites like UrbanSpoon.com and TripAdvisor.com whereas roofing contractors will want to take advantage of sites like ServiceMagic.com and BBB.org.
- The Best U.S. Citation Sources by City will help you find the best local directories and review sites based on your location. Some cities will list very localized directories such as Albany.com and the Washington post.
Create a Great Listing
Once you’ve created or claimed your listing on local directories and review sites, you’ll need to flesh out your business’s profile as much as possible. Here are some tips that you should apply to any listing.
- Take advantage of your options to enhance your listing content. This could include a YouTube video, PDF upload of your menu, slides from a sales presentation, or other visual information.
- Add your social profile links if you can. Even if someone isn’t ready to be a customer or check out your website, they might be willing to like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter. Tell the reader why this is important. Maybe they don’t understand the social engagement piece. We have articles to link to for this reference.
One key thing to remember when completing your listing is that your business value may be affected by the degree to which your profile is complete. Along with the local reviews you receive, robust profiles usually rank higher than their competitors with incomplete, or less robust, listings.
Deal with Reviews
Not all reviews are created equal. Yelp allows users to respond to reviews privately or publicly, and even offers some great tips about how to respond. Remember, the goal of responding to reviews publicly is to demonstrate your outstanding customer service skills in both appreciating happy customers and helping not-so-happy ones.
Even if you know the person who wrote the review is not likely to read it, make your response similar to what you would say if you were standing face to face with the person. Offer to help make things right for the customer. If nothing else, it will show future readers of the review that you care about what your customers have to say and working to solve any dilemmas.
For more information on online reputation management, read: When Vegas goes Viral or;
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