the new Facebook search function, Graphic research, re-emphasized the importance of local search. We covered graphical search last week in “Facebook takes local search”.
If your business is a physical business relying on local traffic, it is essential that you are listed in local directories.
This affects your ability to be found in the broader web search, as directory listings regularly appear on front page search returns. Plus, since many of these directory sites allow consumers to rate, write reviews, and comment on businesses, there is no meaningful way for you to interact with them. or respond to them unless you request your registration.
Here is a list of 10 popular local directory sites, along with their features, the benefits of using them, and how to register.
Yelp is one of the best known and most popular local directories. Over 84 million people visited Yelp in the third quarter of 2012.
Consumers can use Yelp to find local businesses. They can also write reviews and ratings, as well as upload company photos. Consumers can also follow each other in a manner similar to Twitter or Facebook.
Yelp Business Accounts offer a suite of free tools that include the ability to:
- Communicate with clients in private and in public;
- Track the number of people viewing company profiles;
- Add photos, a detailed description of the company, up-to-date information, history and areas of specialization;
- Recommend other companies.
To take advantage of these benefits, you must first claim your listing, which you can do by searching for your listing on Yelp.
If the ad already exists but has not been claimed, you will see a button on the page that says “Claim this ad”. Clicking on the button starts the process. Yelp has a verification protocol in place to ensure that you are the business owner.
If your business isn’t listed, create a Yelp account (or sign in to your existing account) to get started.
Google’s local business directory, also known as Google Places for Business – is now part of Google+ and is called Google+ Local.
You will always see both terms used. This makes creating a local list a bit confusing. Google will likely abandon the use of the term “Places” in favor of the term “Local,” although no timeline is in place for when this will happen.
Google+ Local offers consumers the ability to:
- Get recommendations on companies based on their circles, past reviews and location;
- Publish business reviews and photos;
- Read Zagat summaries of user reviews for a business;
- View a company’s local Google+ page to see reviews, photos, and other information;
- Find opinions from other people.
To set up your listing, go to Google+ Local and search for your business. If it exists, look in the right column of the page where you will see a button. When you click on it, you go to a page to manage the list.
3. Bing Local
Local Bing Lists are now powered by Yelp, which makes building a Yelp list all the more critical.
According to a Bing from June 2012 Press release, “Yelp will showcase content including review snippets, photos, business attributes and more to Bing users in the United States.
However, if you don’t see your business listed, go to the Bing Business portal to do so.
4. Yahoo! Local
Yahoo’s free local listings allow businesses to:
- Display their address, phone number and website URL;
- Include the business in a maximum of five categories;
- List products, services, brands, etc.
A premium version adds more features, including:
- Activity Descrition;
- Photos and a slogan;
- Online discount coupons.
Creating an ad is similar to Yelp. Go to Yahoo! Local and search for your business. If you find it, you’ll see a link to edit your business information. Yahoo! also has a verification process to ensure the information is correct.
If your business isn’t listed, go to Yahoo’s business listing page to begin the process. You will need to create a Yahoo! account if you don’t already have one.
Foursquare is a location-based, mobile app-based social network that allows people to ‘check in’ with your business, write reviews, leave tips and share information on Facebook. and Twitter.
As of December 2012, 25 million people worldwide had downloaded the mobile app and 42% of them used it regularly, according to Nielsen.
Foursquare gives businesses the ability to edit their information, access customer analytics, and create special offers to reward new and returning customers.
Companies can claim their registration by going to the Foursquare professional page.
The new graphical search function makes it even more important for businesses to set up a Facebook page and update it regularly. Also, make sure that the information on your About page is up to date and complete.
Four other notable local directories are:
You can also search for other “yellow page” providers online in your area.
Tips for listing local directories
- To be coherent. Keep your address, phone number, and business name the same in every directory, as variations could result in duplicate listings.
- Keep a master record. Create a Word document or spreadsheet that lists each of your local directory listings. This provides a record that you can keep and update as needed.
- Be thorough. Make each list as complete as possible. This helps ensure that potential customers will do business with you, as opposed to a competitor who doesn’t offer such details. Make sure to include:
- Company name and logo;
- Physical address;
- Business hours;
- Availability of parking;
- Activity Descrition;
- Types of services or products offered;
- Company photos.
Constant contacts Single platform provides businesses with an administrative dashboard to manage all of their directory listings in one place. While it costs $ 49 per month, it dramatically cuts down on the time it takes to create directory listings and removes the need to go to each individual directory to claim and update listing information.