Get to the Top!; Tips for Making your Business Web Site More Prominent in an Online Search
by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator
- Created: August 10, 2010, 6:06 am
The last few years has largely seen the demise of the published edition of the Yellow Pages (mine goes straight into the recycling bin); and the growth of Internet-based search tools.
This is good news for small business owners- if you can make your business listing stand out from the crowd.
But, before you rush out to hire a search engine optimization consultant, consider these tips for making sure your small business is prominent in an online search.
Add your Business to Local Listings
Most popular online business listings now allow you to create a free profile or listing that will help promote your business on the Web. These include Google Places*, YP.com*, Yelp.com*, Yahoo Local*, SuperPages.com*, and so on. Location-based social networks applications are also hugely popular and worth listing under- Yelp.com is in this space as is FourSquare*, Gowalla* and LivingSocial*.
When you create your listing, be sure to include basic information about your business including your address, phone number, URL, hours of operation, and a brief description that clearly defines what your business does. Use keywords that describe your business in a consistent manner across your marketing efforts' including your business listings. And remember that key phrases are just as important as key words' people often search by phrases.
To ensure the geographical accuracy of your listing, you can often drag and drop the tracker icon to pin your business to the correct point on the map. If your customers are diverse' you should also consider adding a separate listing in another language.
Make Your Listing Pop!
Make your listing stand out by adding graphics, videos and coupons. Sites such as Google Places offer this for free' so get your logo up there and keep revisiting your profile to keep offers and other specials up to date.
Encourage Customer Reviews
The power of a good review is critical to the success of small business. Reviews also keep your listing active and push it up the rankings. Ask customers and business partner to submit reviews' i's usually as simple as clicking on the listing and clicking'Submit a Revie'.
Be sure to monitor reviews. While you can't delete reviews, try to respond to negative reviews whenever possible - you usually have to respond publicly (although Yelp.com permits private responses). Yelp.com offers some useful advice on responding to reviews*.
If you think a review is highly inappropriate you can typically flag it as such. If the host site agrees that it is a violation of their policies, they are obliged to remove it.
Check and Claim Other Business Listings
If you've never searched for your business online - do it now and do it frequently.
Even if you are listed on certain directories, new ones are always emerging so it's a good idea to claim your listing before someone else does.
You can do this by searching map-based engines such as Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, Bing Maps, Yelp.com, Local.com, and so on. Search for key words and phrases that describe your business and its location (zip and city). If you find your name appearing in listings that you weren't aware of you can usually find a Are you the business owner? or Claim your business listing button which will allow you to edit your company's information.
Track and Measure Results
Keep an eye on how you rank in listings. Use unique coupon codes to gauge the effectiveness of your listing-based promotions, and always ask customers how they found you (particularly easy if your first point of contact with your customers is over the phone).
You can also monitor the performance of your listing. Google Places and Yelp.com for example both offer basic analytics that let you track how many users see your business listing as a local search result (impressions) and how many times your listing was clicked on.
For more detailed results, use Web analytics tools to measure how many people are coming to your Web site as a result of your online listings. The referral report will tell you the source of your traffic.
Check out these useful Google / SBA Tools for Online Success quick videos, for insight directly from small business owners on how they've used the Internet, including free listings and social media, to grow their business.
- Google AdWords Explained - Growing Your Small Business with this Cost Effective Marketing Tool
- Putting the Social into Social Media Marketing - 3 Tips for Interacting with your Customers
- Getting Started with Social Media Marketing
- Small Business Marketing: Making Social Media Pay Off for your Brand and Your Bottom Line
- Adding Social Media to the Business Marketing Mix - No Longer a Question of Why? but How?
- 3 Proven Tips for Growing New Markets on a Tight Budget (Listen, Engage, Educate)
*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.
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General small business tips and tricks.