Small Businesses Move Online
More and more business owners are moving away from the expensive local directories like all the various yellow pages, simply because of cost vs effectiveness. When was the last time you used the physical phone book to search out information? I personally recycle mine as soon as I get them.
More and more people are looking for information Online ~ researching products, services, and companies ~ then choosing to buy local. With statistics like:
- 97% of Internet users in the U.S. gather shopping information online, and of those consumers 51% explicitly characterize their behavior as “Shop Online, Purchase Offline” (NPD Group)
- New Research by The Kelsey Group and ConStat Indicates 70% of U.S. Households Now Use the Internet When Shopping Locally for Products and Services.
Findings also suggest the Internet is poised to surpass newspapers as a local shopping information resource.
- 60% of activity online is one way or another “related to local content” (Google 5/03)- For every one dollar U.S. consumers spend online, another five or six are going to offline purchases that are influenced by online research
(MIT Technology Review, April 2005, “E-Commerce Gets Smarter“)
Do you want your business to gain from Local Search?
Ways to capitalize on the Local Search Trend for your business
There are basically 2 ways to get your company listed locally ~ pay to have a company do it for you or do it yourself. For the DIY business owners out there ~ here are a few ideas and strategies that can help you get your business listed locally and start to gain more local clients and sales.
1) Do a search for your main keyword followed by your city and state. Make sure your business is listed in any online directories that come up in the search.
2) Get a Google Local account, Local Bing account, and Local Yahoo account. Make sure your site is listed in local versions of all search engines.
3) Participate in local directories that offer consumer ratings or reviews. Ask good clients to give a positive review at the different Online review sites. A few examples are:
- Google Local
Online review sites are becoming very popular and users are checking up on businesses before deciding who to buy from. This is a must for a local business that is wanting to pull in more Online business.
4) Local events ~ if your business hosts local events then get them listed online at sites for local events in your area.
These are a starting point for getting your business recognized online locally. As all search engine efforts – this is an ongoing process that needs ongoing attention. Some effort each month will build to quite a large Online presence over time.
For more strategies for marketing your business online visit: Internet Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
Claim Your Local Listing in Bing
Microsoft’s new search engine – Bing – is a great tool for local businesses. The new search engine focuses on local search – what could be better for a traditional business? There is a process to claim your business and get it listed on Bing. Go to Bing and sign in with your Windows Live ID, or register to get a Windows Live ID. (Windows Live is like Google Profile for Google – every business needs a Windows Live account). Enter your business information then locate the business. You will either be given a listing to claim or given the option to create a listing. Then simply follow the steps and fill out the form as completely as possible. A few tips:
- Try to leave nothing blank
- You can enter up to 6 listing categories – don’t stop at 1
- Photo loader does not seem to work at the time of this writing – be sure to go back later and upload photos – they claim to allow up to 10. Include a logo, image of yourself, and images of your business
Windows Live also has the option to submit a sitemap and use the Web Master Tools. These are highly suggested – if they are too technical then get your webmaster to help. The link to the Web Master Tools is here.
Go through the process of authenticating your website (up load an xml file onto your server or add meta data) then you can submit the site map and see what pages are indexed and other data that will help to get your site ranked well. Also make sure your robots.txt file does not block Bing from crawling your site.
These things are important for getting your website indexed well in Bing. If they are too technical then get in touch with your Web Master and it will be easy for them.
For more education on Search Engine Optimization…