Did you know that the majority of local searches turn into offline sales? Most people are weary about shopping and putting their credit card information online, and with all of the scams and fraud out there who can blame them?
There is however a growing trend that you can leverage. When it comes to shopping, a large cross section of people searching for things to buy, first check local businesses online for deals, then go to the location.
After they find what they need, they drive to that location, buy what they need to, then go back home. The way you can take advantage of this is by being found in your local market.
Here are three places that are a MUST to be found online.
NOTE: Do NOT promote any of you pages yet! For each of the sites in this post and the rest of this strategy, simply copy the URL of each site from the profile pages for each on to notepad or your favorite text editor. Iâ€™ll show you what to do with them after youâ€™ve created your platform.
Where to Be Found:
- Google Places:Â Point your browser to http://www.google.com/places/and click â€œGet Started Now.â€ If you donâ€™t have a Google account (for example, Gmail.com or another Google service), youâ€™ll be prompted to create one. After youâ€™re logged in, click on â€œAdd a new businessâ€ and youâ€™ll be taken to a form where you search to see if your business already exists. Select your country and phone number and click the â€œfind business information button.â€If your business is found, (meaning Google already scoped it), all you have to do is claim it. If not, then youâ€™ll be taken to a form to add it.After that step, youâ€™ll have to verify your business. Google no longer allows verification by phone, so you need a valid address (no PO Boxes) and they will mail you a post card with a verification number, and if youâ€™re lucky, a voucher for $100 Adwords credit.Youâ€™ll have to wait until the card comes before updating or editing your listing, but its well worth the wait.Google places has a PR ranking of 9/10, which means that if you use the keywords associated with your business in the title and description for your business profile, whenever someone searches for those keywords, then your business will be right at the top of the search engine listings.
- Bing Business Portal:Â The same idea applies to Bing. Point your browser to http://www.bing.com/businessportalÂ and click â€œGet started now.â€ Enter your business information and click â€œsearchâ€ to see if youâ€™re lousiness is listed.If it isnâ€™t, a form will pop up and you can fill in all of your business information. You will need to have a Microsoft account so you will be prompted to log in or create one.And as will Google, you will need to verify your business by mail.
- Facebook Local Business:Â If you donâ€™t have a Facebook profile, now is the perfect time to create one. Hop on over to http://www.facebook.comÂ and sign up. Once youâ€™re signed up, point your browser to this URL. https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php. Once youâ€™re there, select the â€œLocal Business or Placeâ€ option, choose a category, (I use Local Business), and fill in your information. Once youâ€™re done, â€œagreeâ€ to the terms and click â€œGet Started.â€ During the setup, you will be asked to provide some basic information like a profile picture and so on. Simply follow through the steps until itâ€™s complete and â€œLikeâ€ your page.
Those are the three BIG ones that are most important. To maximize your exposure in the local market you need to set up two more company profiles.
- Yahoo! Local located at http://listings.local.yahoo.com/.
- Merchant Circle located at http://www.merchantcircle.com/.
These arenâ€™t all of the local listings that you can place your business, but just a very strong start. These are the sites that hold the largest market share of where people go and trust.
There are a lot of other sites out there; however people are creatures of habit that have been bred into the Internet age by the big names, (Google, Microsoft (Bing), Yahoo!, and a few others. The further away you get from known names to unrecognized sources, the less likely they are to trust the information they find.
Pro Tip: Before you fill in all of the descriptions for each of your business listings, have 4 or 5 different versions of your description made out so that each is unique. Some search engines, Google especially, will compact listings with the same description and title, or omit them completely.
Remember to use keywords in your descriptions and titles that people would search for in order to find your service. There is a section on how to do keyword analysis at the end of the book.
PRO TIP 2: A lot of people look for customer feedback and testimonials when visiting any new website or business, even if it is local.
When are ready to promote ask friends and family to leave reviews on yelp.com, Google reviews for business, Yahoo! reviews and leave comments, likes, and rating on all of the other sites above to help give your business some credibility from real people others in the community know.
PRO TIP 3: Now that you are a part of the local business community, word of mouth starts immediately! Spend some time on http://answers.yahoo.com and answer questions, or help answer questions and give aid in your local community so that people get to know who you are.
Volunteer at charities, participate in local events, and so on. As long as youâ€™re genuine, people will remember who you are and will be more likely to spend money with you, and recommend you to others.
PRO TIP 4: If your services or products are online, remember to ALWAYS leave a â€œfor more informationâ€ clause with a phone number in the description. The reason the cross section of those who search online and shop offline do what they do is trust. Make it as easy as possible to get their questions answered by a real person, meaning no auto-responders or voice recordings!
If youâ€™re willing to invest $1,000 a year, (well worth it), you can achieve dominating search results in the local market by using the Yext.com listing service.