Making sure your business ranks at the top of local search is just one step to making sure customers can find you online. Placing your small local business on a free listing site is another (yet equally important) way to reach locals.
But where do you start?
From Yelp to Yellow Pages, there’s a plethora of business listing sites that offer small business free exposure and an opportunity to expand their online presence. In short, these online directories, communities and sites are free advertising for your small business.
Skim top listing sites below and take the initiative to list your company in as many relevant sites as possible. When you set up your business profile on these sites, be sure to enter your company information accurately, including business description, operating hours, address, phone number, a link to your business website and good photos of your store and product or service. You may want to link to your social media profiles, too.
If you do not have a business website or relevant social media profiles, you may want to set them up first, which you can do quickly, for free. It’s all about having a thorough online footprint and making it as easy as possible for customers to find you. This all may sound tedious, but these small, simple steps can be the key to driving growth for your business.
- Yelp. Listing your business on Yelp is an absolute must for local restaurants. With close to 80 million unique monthly visitors on its mobile website alone (not counting apps or desktop!) Yelp is arguably one of the most popular review sites. This is a great platform for improving your reputation, and engaging with potential customers. If you’re based in the United Kingdom, check out www.yelp.co.uk.
Pro Tip: If a customer leaves you a dazzling review, start a conversation with them by thanking them profusely. If someone leaves a less-than-stellar review, don’t ignore or get defensive. Pledge to do better and welcome them back. Address the good and bad, and always use each exchange as an opportunity to step up your customer service & communication skills.
- Google My Business. Because Google is the top search engine, Google My Business is likely one of the most important resources for big and small business alike. The resource not only helps you set up a business listing on Google but also works with Google Search and Google Maps. Whenever someone types in a relevant search term, your business profile–which lists an address, phone number and reviews–will pop up in the results page or the map. Don’t rely on an automated listing, you need to actively claim and verify your information.
- Bing Places for Business. Of course, Google isn’t the only engine around. Microsoft’s Bing is the next runner up in terms of site visits. And because Bing is the automatic search engine for desktop and tablet versions of Windows 8, this platform is not to be overlooked. Registration is fast, free and you have the option of adding multiple business locations.
- Facebook for Business. The tech behemoth is the most widely used social media network. List your basic information as well as updates about your business (i.e. if you’re launching a sale or plan to adjust store hours during a holiday weekend). Most notably, leveraging Facebook Ads will help you reach your target audience. Meanwhile, Facebook Insights will give you data about what your followers are enjoying most, enabling you to tweak your marketing and messaging accordingly.
- Apple Map. When all those millions of iPhone users search for local businesses, the search results are pulled from Apple Maps, not Google. You can add or update your business information to make it easy for customers to find you, as well as easily integrate with Yelp and Siri.
- MerchantCircle isn’t just a directory. It’s a community for small businesses seeking to connect with customers as well as other businesses in their community. Network users can increase their online presence by taking advantage of advertising features and publishing blogs. The more active participants shine on this community-driven platform.
- Yellow Pages, or YP. The good ole Yellow Pages lives online as YP. And with 60 million users searching for businesses on the well-organized and digitized tool, it’s critical for business owners to claim their listing and build a free YP profile.
If you’re a business owner in the UK, check out Yell.com, which is basically the YellowPages of that region.
- Yellowbook takes a hyperlocal approach to search by making it easy for users to search for local listings. It has a unique feature that allows visitors to do a “Reverse” lookup–meaning you can enter a business’ phone number and address to find the company name.
- Foursquare is a local search-and-discovery mobile app that’s part business directory and part social network. Users check in via a map and the platform provides recommendations of places to go based on the current location. It also relies on user’s browsing and check-in history to list recommendations. With roughly 3 billion visits per year, this is a great way to reach your local audience.
- Angie’s List is an online directory that boasts more than 12 million vetted and verified reviews. As a result, millions trust and rely on Angie’s List to find the best local providers in more than 700 categories–including plumbing, roofing, landscaping, house cleaning and so on.
- Thomson Local. If you’re a London-based local service provider, Thomson Local is the Angie’s List of the UK, so setting up a business profile on this directory should give your business a boost.
- TripAdvisor. This is a must for any hospitality, tourism or entertainment-related business. Reaching nearly 500 unique visitors each month, this is one of the largest travel sites for recommendations, reviews as well as bookings. Just like in Yelp, you can interact with customers who post reviews and comments about your business.
- UK Business Directory. For UK-based businesses, Apple Maps, Google My Business, Bing, Yelp and Foursquare all play a big role for local establishments in the region. But relying on older sites like UK Business Directory, which has been around since 1999, is also a safe bet.
- Scoot. Longstanding newspapers are major institutions in England. Posting your business to a site like Scoot UK allows your listing to also appear on partner newspaper sites like The Sun, The Mirror, The Independent, Touch Local and others, giving your business a boost in credibility.
- Instagram. Last but not least, entrepreneurs should pay special to this social media juggernaut. Whether you’re a hot new fashion boutique, or a small local eatery, a smart, thoughtful and consistent approach to Instagram can empower the smallest shops to grow their business. With features like Instagram Stories and Instagram TV, you can launch creative marketing efforts and boost customer engagement by setting up a free business account on Instagram.