Do you remember something called the "Yellow Pages?" I do and many of my clients do as well. But my 20 something son and his friends think it's just too funny for words. They have something better at their fingertips virtually all the time. It's called "the Internet." Heard of that? Of course you have.
I've gotten into the habit of asking groups I speak to a couple of questions. First, how many of you have used the yellow pages in the last week? I'll often get one or two, depending on the size of the group. Then I ask them how many of you have used the Internet to look something up in the last week. Usually every hand goes up (and it doesn't seem to matter what the average age is.)
The message is not lost on anyone in the room, nor you I suspect. The yellow pages is not dead, but it is definitely not the '600 pound gorilla' that it used to be. Some businesses still get a lot of business that way, but even those businesses are growing their Internet lead generation.
The yellow pages used to be how we all found local services. Today we get more and better information online. There are many local directories that have been working to replace the yellow pages for several years and they may be great resources for your business.
But, people have gotten used to using search engines to look stuff up and local services are in that 'stuff' category. So you need to show up when people are looking for your services. There are lots of ways to show up, but I'm only going to discuss one of them in this post. It's the local business directories of Google and Yahoo.
Both search engines display a map with a number of local businesses when you add a city name to your search. They're even starting to show them if they can figure out where you are from your IP number. The local business directories are how you get onto those maps. Both search engines offer free versions for basic listings. Yahoo has enhanced listings for monthly fees. Bing (the latest Microsoft search engine incarnation) has a version as well.
You should get your business listed in all of these directories--they're free! And the maps show up high on the search engine results pages. Always above the organic listings and sometimes at the very top of the pages. If you show up on the page one map, that's often the highest position on the page. And did I mention that it's free?
Now, just adding your business to the directory is not a guarantee that you will show on page one. You'll do better if you fill out as much of the information as you can. Try to use your primary keywords somewhere in the listings.
I also believe that the quality of your website (which should be included in your listing!) will play an important role in your placement. It's not clear that that is the case now, but I think the search engines are smart enough to figure out that people want to check out a company before doing business and today that means looking at their website. The better the website, the better the user experience and the better they feel about their search engine experience as well.
So, keep on doing what you doing and continuously improve your websites. But add the business listings as soon as you get done reading this post!
Here are the links to get you going: