Local businesses leave money on the table

Matt Malone

This is especially true when it comes to the astounding number of location-specific searches. According to Google, 20 percent of searches are location-related queries. With Google’s nearly five billion searches a day, this equates to about 30 billion local searches per month, and that number is expected to increase 50 percent each year.

Still not convinced a potential shopper is going to find you on the Internet and come running into your store? Okay, maybe not directly. But try to remember the stages of the buying cycle you learned in Marketing 101:

  • Awareness
  • Research
  • Comparison
  • Purchase

The Internet is by far the most convenient and resourceful option for researching the first three stages. In fact, a study by comScore, a global leader in digital business statistics, states that 90 percent of online commercial searches result in offline brick and mortar purchases. This type of research makes it clear that many businesses have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books and most print advertising.

There are many different tactics you can implement to capture the attention of potential customers, but step one is increasing online visibility. Thanks to services such as Google+ (Places), Bing Local and Yelp, this has become extremely easy to do. Just be sure to do it right.

As I mentioned earlier, many business owners have local listings, but are doing it wrong. Simply typing in your business name and seeing your listing isn’t enough. Be sure to “claim” your listing so that you can complete your profile and business information in full. This includes pictures and videos of your establishment, types of payment accepted and even whether or not you have paid or free parking available.

Pro Tip: It’s very important for you, as the business owner, to claim the business listing before a disgruntled employee or unhappy customer does it and bashes the company within your own profile. I have seen this happen, and even though it’s reversible, it’s a headache for the business owner to deal with.

The entire process of claiming or creating your online business listing should take you under an hour. Start with setting up (or claiming) your business listing in all of the directories listed below.

Top five local directories to increase your online presence:

  1. Google+ Local: 
www.places.google.com
  2. Bing Local: 
www.bing.com/local/us
  3. Yelp: 
www.biz.yelp.com
  4. Hotfrog: 
www.hotfrog.com
  5. Manta: 
www.manta.com

These are the highest-ranking directories for 
Google and Bing local searches. Maximize your search engine real estate and claim all of them. Then be 
sure to read through your reviews on a weekly or monthly basis to ensure you respond to any positive or negative comments you receive. An attentive, caring company will almost always be an equally respected company.

Matt Malone is the Director of Digital Marketing for Gravitate (www.gravitatedesign.com/blog), a digital marketing and design agency located in Vancouver. He can be reached by email:matt@gravitatedesign.com.

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