Ways of Adding Your Business with Small Business Saturday

Small business Saturday: When internet users search for a product or service, the results that come up on the first page of the search are local listings. This information, provided either by the search engine itself, business listings websites, or social media sites, allows customers to get a glimpse of the highest-rated and most well-known businesses that offer the product they searched for. By including your own business among these listings, you can increase customer traffic and build a reputation that will lead to higher sales. Use the following steps to add your business to local listings.

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Find your business on search engines. Before adding your business to local listings, you will have to identify whether or not listings for your business currently exist on these listing services. Start by searching for your business by name or address on the most common search engines, all of which have business listing services. These are, in order of web traffic: Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Check to see that your business name exists on these websites and if it doesn’t, immediately make an effort to add it.

  • When you are adding listings, complete local listings on these search engines first. The majority of users these days simply decide on a business directly from search engine results.

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Locate listing websites. In addition to search engines, the other most popular listing services online are dedicated local listings websites. The most popular of these websites are Yelp, MerchantCircle, Yellow Pages, and Superpages.com, though there are many others. If your business is service-based, it should also be listed on Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor.com, and Thumbtack. Results from these websites often show up in search results below the search engine’s own local listings or off to the side in sponsored ads, so it’s important to establish a presence on these websites as well.

  • Having profiles on these websites and on social media websites (like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) will increase your overall level of citations. Citations are mentions of your business on these websites and can help you move up local listing rankings to be more easily seen by internet users.

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Claim your business. On each search engine or website, you will likely be asked to search for your business by name, phone number, or address to see if a listing already exists. Odds are, you will find that some information about your business already exists online in a few of these places. If you find something, you can “claim” your business by registering yourself as the business owner. In most cases, this involves creating an account on the website followed by a verification process.

  • You may want to start by claiming your listings on Google, Bing, and Yelp.

Correct and complete your information. There is a good chance that at least some of the information about your business present online will be incorrect or at least outdated. The primary information you want to check on each listing service is your name, address, phone number, website, and category (type of business). Make sure this information is completely consistent across listing platforms. In some cases, you may also be able to add additional content, like pictures or videos.

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Verify your business. When you’ve filled out your completed information, you will have to verify that you are indeed the business owner. The verification process is done slightly differently across the listing platforms, but generally follows one of three different general formulas:

  • An immediate phone call to the business location. You’ll then be asked to verify by dialling in a PIN number you receive from the website.
  • A postal card sent to the business’s address with a pin code that you can enter online.
  • An email to the business’s email account with a verification link.
  • Your verification will be completed in different lengths of time for different platforms. For example, Google listings are updated almost immediately, whereas other platforms may take much longer due to a manual review process.

Assess whether you qualify for a local listing. Some business may not qualify for local listings, so make sure you check first to see that your business does so that you don’t have any surprises down the road. To qualify, you must:

  • Have a physical street address or service area (you can’t operate solely online).
  • Meet customers face-to-face.
  • Have your own local phone number in the area code where your business is located.
  • Have a business name or doing business as (DBA) name

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Add a business in listings. If you search local listings and don’t see your business, you will have to add your business. Most listing services will place the button you need to click to do so in a very prominent location on their local listing web pages. In some cases, you may have to create a simple account to add a business listing. For search engines, this can be your existing personal account (if you have one). From here, the process is very similar to that of claiming an existing business listing.

Enter in business information. When entering your business information into the various listing services, make sure all of it is as complete and consistent as possible. For example, don’t call yourself “John’s Plumbing” in one place and “John’s Plumbing and Handyman Service” in another. This creates different listings that could be viewed as completely different businesses. In general, you’ll need to include the following information:

  • Your business’s name. Your best option is to simply use your business’s actual name. However, you can also add a one-word descriptor to explain a special feature of your business. This can be a location detail like “Sally’s Coffee Shop Uptown” or a service description like “Biscuits and Gravy Restaurant,” with “uptown” and “restaurant” being the descriptors.
  • Your address and phone number. Format them the same way across all platforms.
  • Your website address.
  • Categories. This help tells users what your business does. Often, you will be able to select more than one for each platform.

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Wait for verification. Once you have filled out your information and added your listing, the platform will need to verify your ownership of the business. This is generally done with a phone call, email, or postcard sent to the business address. Work with the platform to make sure you get verified. Otherwise, your listing will not be published. This may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few months, depending on the platform.

Update important business information as it changes. If your information changes at all, for example, if you move locations or get a new name or phone number, you will have to update this information across all of your listings. This sounds like a lot of work, but the business you will lose from not updating, especially not updating your address, makes it more than worth it to do so. However, updating a business’s name may cause you to lose some reviews.

  • You may have to re-verify your business if you change crucial information like the address or phone number. This will be done in the same way that you first verified the business.

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Add pictures or videos to your listings. You can also add content to your listings. Adding an eye-grabbing photo as your main picture may draw more traffic to your listing. You can also ask customers to upload photos or videos of your business to listing sites. If you want to really stand out, you can get a Google-certified photographer to do a 360-degree indoor view of your business that will be interactive for viewers on your Google listing.

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Keep up with reviews. On many of these listing services, your customers are able to post reviews of your business. It’s crucial that you monitor your listings for both good and bad reviews, as many of them will allow you to respond to them. You can respond to positive reviews to thank customers for their patronage and respond to negative reviews to offer a way to remedy the issue. Some sites will also let you work with them to review unfair or false reviews. You can improve your local listing rank by reminding customers to leave you a review.

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