Small businesses often rely on local business listings and local traffic to drive sales. I have had clients talk to us about building a website for them before they have taken the basic step of adding their business to Google My Business. Without some basic business listings, your business will be really difficult to find online – even if you have a terrific website!
Local business listings are a great way your business to be found online. The marketplace is crowded and you need to take advantage of every opportunity to get found! Joining a business listing site is like displaying your business card in another local business. It will help to expand your reach to a wider audience. Local business listings help potential customers find you who would not otherwise do so.
Some are free. Some aren’t. Here’s when to pay
The benefit of using a listing service is that it heightens your visibility among those people who typically rely on those pages for referrals. These listing can also help your business get noticed if it is in a niche industry.
There are free listing services online like Google My Business, that every small business should take advantage of. Don’t do anything else until you’ve listed your business with Google! There are some listing services pages like Yelp, Alignable, and Next Door that offer free accounts. Social media platforms rank well in search results and opening a business page on a platform like Facebook can also help your business to get found online.
So, when do you pay?
You start paying when that platform can put you in front of your target audience more effectively. Paying for a chamber of commerce membership and establishing a listing on their website is really effective for a business that markets to other businesses.
I once had a company contact us who makes specialty brackets for pro audio system installations. A listing in the local chamber of commerce probably would not help them, but a listing in a pro-audio service directory would be valuable and worth paying for.
Consider upping your game if you need to reach out further
Some of the heaviest local internet traffic we’ve seen has been for restaurants. People search online to look at food, reviews, menus, and so on. The restaurant space is really crowded online. Tf you’re wanting to stand out online, then you’re probably going to need to pay for some directory listings.
For restaurants, there are a number of well-established online directories and reservations services like OpenTable.com.
Another competitive area is the home improvement industry. We build websites for contractors all the time, but the most successful contractors online combine directory listing, social media posts, paid advertising and content marketing. A list like HomeAdvisor or AngiesList have aggressive marketing campaigns and can provide you with leads you would not otherwise receive. The key is to respond quickly to these leads before another contractor snatched up the customer.
If you are a freelancer, you likely spend 20-30% of your time every week looking for the next gig. Online directories can help with freelancers as well. Freelancer.com and UpWork.com both connect freelancers with gigs. Some of these can come from national, unexpected sources.
Don’t discount the phone book.
You might remember back to the pre-internet days of thumbing through the yellow pages to find the number for the local pizza delivery service. Whereas the printed phone book is typically only used by older shoppers, their online directory service can prove to be helpful. A service like DexKnows.com or YellowPages.com can provide your business with increase connectivity throughout the web and higher-ranking internet search results.
More Great Content is Available in Our Guide
If you want a complete overview of small business marketing strategies in less than 100 pages, download our guide here. It is full of useful information that you can begin implementing immediately in your small business.