Gone are the days when a local retail business laid down an annual sum to have its information listed in the Yellow Pages. These days, it’s crucial for businesses to instead prominently list themselves in multiple online directories.
Consider that four out five consumers in the U.S. now use search engines to find local information. Perhaps more importantly, 50 percent of those conducting local searches visit a store within a day. To make sure your business is found, we’ve outlined the top 20 places your business needs to be listed.
What to include in your online business listing
Google research shows customers most frequently seek company hours, product information, business location and directions, so make sure to include these details in your listing. You should also add your phone number, website URL and photos of your business. Depending on the local retail business site, you may be able to include links to your social media profiles. But only share that information if you are active on social — directing people to a profile that hasn’t been updated in a year isn’t going to benefit you or a potential customer.
Your business details should be consistent across every site, so keep all this information in a document that you can refer to as you visit the directories listed below.
Top 20 places to list your local retail business:
1. Google My Business: The Goliath of search engines, of course, is Google. So, it’s no surprise that when prioritizing which online listings to pursue, experts often recommend starting with the free-of-charge Google My Business (GMB). After all, Google far outperforms every other search engine, logging an average 7.8 billion searches per day last year.
One of the greatest benefits of GMB is its listing of your business’s exact location on a mobile-friendly map — a huge boon to the 1.3 billion smartphone users expected to populate the U.S. by 2020. “You will be far more visible to the vast majority of both Android and iPhones users searching for businesses within a 5-kilometer radius,” Google advises, pointing to the SEO edge the tool provides in promoting small, local businesses over more generic corporations. “Local searchers do not want to be constantly bombarded with the same old big names that may or may not truly offer the service or product they are seeking.” GMB consistently shows up high in online searches, boosts your website’s SEO rankings, posts reviews from your customers and allows you to include the following in your profile:
- Printable coupons
- Special offers
- Opening hours
- Preferred payment methods
- And other meaningful information
Its Analytics function also allows you to track who’s searching for you and what other sites they’ve visited. The free and easy registration process for GMB is available here.
2. Bing Places for Business: Only Google outpaces this free Microsoft product in visits, and you can add multiple business locations, photos, videos and more during your fast, free and easy registration. Because Bing is the default search engine for desktop and tablet versions of Windows 8, some tablet, desktop and laptop owners opt for Bing over Google. Enroll here.
3. Yahoo Local Listing: Ranking third next to Google and Bing, Yahoo’s service draws millions of searches daily. A basic listing is free, but $9.95/month allows you to add photos and a company description, and $29.99/month buys you listings in more than 40 other online directories. Yahoo may no longer be the search engine heavy-hitter it once was, but it can be a nice complement to your online local strategy. Create your listing here.
4. Facebook is the most widely used social media network. So, if you want to connect with consumers, this is the place to be. Creating a Facebook Business page not only gives you the opportunity to share basic information and updates about your business, but it also can help you capture leads, drive traffic to your website and reach targeted audiences with Facebook Ads. Additionally, you can get to know your customer base through Facebook Insights, which will show you the hard data on what your audience is enjoying, or Facebook groups, which enable you to have a conversation with fans. Create and claim your Facebook page here.
5. Apple Maps is the default web mapping services for iOS. When Apple users search for local businesses through the app, all the information is pulled from Apple Maps and not Google, so it’s important to make sure that you’re listed here. Features like third-party integration with Yelp and Siri integration make it a boon for business owners and consumers. Add your business here.
6. Yelp is one of the best online sources for candid consumer reviews. Bonus: It allows you to send public or private messages (including deals) to customers and review business trends using the Yelp reporting tool. In terms of demographics, nearly 35 percent of Yelp users are 18 to 34, 60.6 percent are college grads and more than 48 percent earn $100,000 or more annually. The most reviewed categories on Yelp include shopping, restaurants and home services respectively. Enroll here.
7. MerchantCircle is a free network targeted toward small businesses seeking to connect with local customers and other small businesses in their areas. Users can advertise to boost their listings, post business blogs and take advantage of free marketing tools aimed at building their business. The more active they are online, the more local exposure they gain. Create a listing here.
8. Yellow Pages: This well-organized online version of the antiquated classic generates millions of daily searches. It offers advertising, lead generation and detailed ad performance data. Enroll through this link.
9. Superpages.com: This free, easy-to-navigate service has helpful options, including weather and lottery listings, as well as fast access to popular categories, search tips and a Facebook sign-in option. Start listing here.
10. Yellowbook allows for easily searchable business listings that include your business information, a link to your website, product descriptions, a map feature and options for display and video ads. Your info is distributed across the Yellowbook.com network and its partner sites. Enroll here.
11. Manta calls itself one of the largest online resources dedicated to local retail business. “The Manta directory boasts millions of unique visitors every month who search our comprehensive database for individual businesses, industry segments and geographic-specific listings,” it reports. “[We] deliver helpful news and advice, promotion opportunities and tools for small businesses.” Registration is lightning-fast and allows for the highlighting of your products along with options for optimization packages. Enroll through this link.
12. Citysearch: This free site specializes in listings for shops, restaurants, bars, spas, hotels and other businesses across the U.S., optimizing them via a partner network that includes Expedia, Urbanspoon and MerchantCircle. Listings are accessed through the popular Citysearch mobile app, and businesses preferred by users are regularly named in local “best of” lists that cover 20 categories. List your business here.
13. MapQuest: This blast-from-the-past web-mapping service owned by Verizon gets searchers to your physical location quickly and easily via detailed maps. The Washington Post recently ran a story noting that one MapQuest mobile app still appears for every 20 smartphone users who have Google Maps. Include your business here.
14. Local.com: This free directory gives searchers detailed information about events, deals and info relevant to a given city. Its database includes more than 16 million business listings covering every zip code in the U.S. Paid ad options allow for coupons and other features. Enroll here.
15. Foursquare: This combination business directory and social networking site allows users to check in via map and comment about your business, with or without the Foursquare mobile app. As of last year, it boasted 3 billion global visits per month. Sign up for Foursquare here.
16. Best of the Web: This site offers a series of web directories with millions of websites listed. Their team of editors aim to make listings relevant and unique. Twenty-five million people search BOTW local every year. Multiple pricing options are available. Sign up here.
17. Angie’s List: This respected site is known for its objective consumer reviews in more than 720 categories. More than 6 million U.S. households turn to Angie’s List to research, hire, rate and review local service providers. Create an Angie’s List file on your company here.
18. Hotfrog: This free, detailed online directory can help get your website listed in Google search results and lets you include things like coupons for your customers. The site boasts 120 million business listings across 38 different countries. Sign up here.
19. Directory Critic is a link-building resource that provides SEO-friendly web and article directories. Categories include general, niche and article directories. All the lists are made available at no cost. Submit your listing here.
20. TripAdvisor offers a flat subscription rate for any business related to the hospitality or entertainment industries in 49 markets worldwide. Calling itself the world’s largest travel site, it reaches 455 million average monthly unique visitors and so far has logged some 600 million reviews and opinions covering 7.5 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. Sign up here.
Once you’ve claimed or updated your listings in these directories, your local retail business will be well on its way toward increasing brand exposure and generating web traffic.
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