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A Guide To Local Listings

October 31, 2006

By now you’re probably interested in getting a local listing, but you’re unsure how or where to proceed. Well, let me be your guide. After reading Michael’s post “Waiting for the Wrong Search Engine” I decided to try it out myself. I found getting a local listing wasn’t always so easy or clear cut.

Getting a local listing is great idea. Is there anything worse than having your customers trying to find you and not succeeding. It only takes a couple minutes on half a dozen sites to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Imagine how nice it will be when potential clients find your listing but not your lazy competitors.

I followed the link to “Four Steps Every Business Can Take to Improve Local Search Results” by Patricia Hursh. But I’ll be adding my own links that take you to the actual add/edit listing pages. Keep in mind these companies make money by offering more complete listings and rankings. So, make sure you’re selecting the free listings and services, unless, of course, you want some of the services they offer.

Step One: Update your business directory listing.

I looked at the sites Patricia listed: Amacai, InfoUSA, and Acxiom. I only had success with Amacai.

  • Amacai – Uses Localeze.com to manage their data entry. You can add or edit a business entry from here.
  • InfoUSA – I searched the website until I found a FAQ which stated, ” Due to issues of privacy, we are not able to add or change any listings…”
  • Acxiom – I couldn’t find a page to add or edit my business entry.

Step Two: submit your business information to the search engines.

Keep in mind you don’t have to have a website. Patricia says, “All of these sites have ‘add/submit business’ links,” but I only found this to be true for Google and Yahoo.

  • Google Local – had a link right on the Local Google site. They use a verification system but they must use some sort of phone robot because I couldn’t understand a single word. I had to opt for Mail Verification. Once I activated my local Google listing I found they also offer a free coupon service. That is you can set up coupons on your listing to help generate additional sales. If you don’t have a website Google offers free websites that are nice and relatively easy to set up.
  • Yahoo Local – offers a free business listing and they will even give you a free web site if you want one. I already had a Yahoo account set up, but if I recall it’s relatively trouble free to set one up.
  • MSN Local – I couldn’t find a page to register a new business or edit an existing listing. However, one article mentioned MSN’s business listings are furnished by Amacai (see above.)
  • Ask Local – I could not find any listings other than advertising, which you pay for.
  • TrueLocal – I didn’t try it because I’ve never heard of it.

Step Three: update your Yellow Pages listings.

By this I mean the free online Yellow Page listing. If anyone knows how to get a listing in the printed phone book without paying I would love to know.
I had the most trouble trying to find my category. Whoever set up these categories has done a terrible job. There was a lot of back and forth in the browser and I still don’t feel I got listed in the right category.

  • YellowPages.com – This is set up like you’re buying a paid listing but they do offer a free listing. Click the “Advertise Now” link, input your Zip Code, and then register for an account via Email. When you get your welcoming email, follow the link, and fill in your info. One nice thing about the Yellow Pages is they offer more fields and longer descriptions. The bad thing is it’s only good for one a year and they won’t remind you, so mark your calendar.
  • Verizon SuperPages – This also requires setting up an account before you can set up a free Business Listing.
  • SwitchBoard.com – When I checked their web site it appears you could set up a personal listing but not a business listing.

Step four is to feature your physical address on your Web site.

I can’t tell you how many times I open a web site and can’t find their address or phone number. Not only should it be on you web site but it should be on your home page where someone can find it, and in letters large enough for a actual human to read. I would also argue that it should be near the top so if someone wants to print out your address they don’t have to print four pages to get at it.

Notes

Since signing up with Amacai, Google, Yahoo, YellowPages, and Verizon I haven’t seen any spike in my spam traffic. I did use my main email address, which already gets hit pretty hard by spam. So I’m hoping the increase in spam from the listing won’t be noticeable but it is something you should think about. I found the process went quicker when I wrote a 150-250 word description of the products and services my company provides. I could paste this information at each site; then adding or subtracting depending on how many charactors the listing allowed. You should also think about multiple categories for your company. In my case I was lucky to find one, but you may find many possible matches. Also most of these sites ask for keywords, so think about what your customers might be typing in their search boxes.

I am looking forward to higher visibility in my local market and some new customers. Considering how expensive advertising is, you would be a fool not to take advantage of these free listings.

Craig Maas
Effective Concepts LLC.
Fargo, ND 58103
guest blogger and web concierge

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