Get Found On the Internet - Without Having Your Own Web Site
It sounds like a fantasy: Get your company in front of people searching online for businesses just like yours in your exact location - whether that's a plumbing contractor in Nashua, a Mexican restaurant in Peabody or a home health aide agency in Chelmsford. It's comparable to Yellow Pages advertising, which people consult when they're ready to buy, but the cost is much more palatable - zero. Yes, totally free.
Top Search Engines Offer Free Listings
In their eagerness to beef up what's called Local Search, the two top search engines Google and Yahoo now offer free listings to local businesses. In future, they will most likely charge for this service. Listings are open to local businesses that do not have a web site, and they include products and services offered, store hours, forms of payment accepted, even photos, all free. For a nominal fee, they provide enhanced listings for greater exposure.
Companies that seize this opportunity will have a major advantage over those that don't. To see what customers will see when they do a search, go to Google.com and type in "pizza 01950." The very first search results listed include Nick's Pizza in Newburyport. Click on the link for Nick's Pizza and you go to a page providing the restaurant's address, phone number, hours of business, services and a map. Imagine how convenient this is for travelers or newcomers to Newburyport looking for a place to grab a pizza, and you'll understand the awesome power of this free advertising.
"This is one of those 'get ahead of your competitors' opportunities that small businesses should take advantage of now. In two years, everyone will have done it, and the playing field will be more level," says Andrew Goodman, principal of Page Zero Media and an expert on search engine marketing.
Try putting your own industry category and zip code into Google and see if your competitors are listed. If so and you're not, follow the instructions later in this article to even out the competition. If no one comes up, you can grab the field by acting now.
82% of U.S. Households Use The Internet For Local Businesses
Not sure your customers use the Internet? They most certainly do. According to statistics by Google, 82% of U.S. households use the Internet as an information source when shopping locally for products and services.
For new businesses, local search listings are a lifesaver, since the printed Yellow Pages are expensive - and come out only once a year. Yet your Google Local Business Listings can be up and running shortly after you submit your information and verify your business location.
Local search listings are imperative for businesses that serve a local area, such as a dry cleaner or home repair services. They also benefit businesses that people from other states, cities or regions might search for, either in connection with travel or for relatives who live in your area, for instance someone seeking a spa they can visit during a business trip or a medical specialist for their parent living far away. The second category of people usually don't have access to the Yellow Pages for your area, yet if you are listed online, they will be more likely to find you.
How to Get Listed
Gain Recognition Through Local Search
These are all advertising tools that any company with a physical place of business can use, with or without their own web site, for free. A company that does have its own web site can gain more recognition through local search because those listings always come out on top in the search engine results. Local search listings also include a free link on over to your web site, if you have one.
While the process of getting listed is relatively straightforward, if you're too busy or too computer-shy to take care of it, you can hire a web designer or online marketing company to help. The important thing is that you move on this today. Customers are online searching for you this very minute!
About The Author:
Cheryl Perkins is the founder of Cheryl K. Perkins & Associates, a Newton, NH, web development firm that focuses on delivering solid results and top search engine rankings for clients. Contact Cheryl at 603-475-3503 or go to www.cherylkperkins.com
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