These days, it’s fair to say that more customers than not use search engines on their mobile devices or laptops to find the products and services they want.
That means local businesses need to be on local pages of search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. And a very small effort getting these pages set up can yield huge results in the form of new business.
Google has the world’s most popular search engine, and buying ads for your business or website through Google’s AdSense program can be expensive. But did you know that you can advertise for free using the search engine’s popular Google Local program?
Google Local is an offshoot of Google Maps, the successful mapping service application. When you search for a location on Google Maps, you have the option of searching for a business, or types of businesses, near that location. When you do, information about relevant area businesses will appear in the left-hand column and little corresponding pinpoints for each business will appear on the map.
With Google Local, getting your business listed on the service is free and simple to do. Just go to Google Local’s website and register your business. It takes just a few moments. Make sure to include a link to your website.
Google Local even lets you post coupons for special offers, deals and discounts. And your customers can write reviews about your business that will appear anytime somebody hovers over your business name on Google Local. You can even include photos of your business, your employees or your products.
While Google AdSense maybe out of your budget, Google Local isn’t.
Yahoo! Local is an online local advertising system that lets you promote your business on the popular Yahoo web pages for free when you use the Basics Listing service.
When you go to Yahoo Local, you can create a business profile by entering information including your business’ name, address and phone numbers, hours of operation, payment methods accepted, and services and products that are available. You can even include a link to your web page.
When users conduct a search for local business in your niche, your business will be listed along with all of your competitors. Yahoo! Local offers an enhanced listing service for a small fee, which allows you to include up to ten photos, your company’s tagline, a long description that is searchable by Yahoo! Users and two additional links to other websites you may have. You also will then be provided with performance reports that give you detailed information about how many people searched for your business, including demographics, geographic locations and other analytics you can use.
Directories such Yahoo! Local are important to local businesses because people today use websites like Yahoo! to search for the products and services they want in their communities. Web searches have surpassed the Yellow Pages as people’s primary search method.
Bing Local is the new name for the service formerly known as Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search. It is kind of a combination of Google Local and Yahoo! Local in that it offers the best elements of both services.
Like Google Local, Bing Local is tied to the site’s mapping service,so listings will appear whenever a user conducts a search for businesses of your type while using the map. But Bing Local offers additional free features that you can use to promote your business. Unlike Yahoo! Local, Bing Local doesn’t charge you a fee to include links to supplemental websites. For example, if you own a restaurant, you can include links to your menus, booking forms or even reviews on sites like tripadvisor.com.
All three services – Google Local, Yahoo! Local and Bing Local – require verification of your information prior to inclusion on their pages, but Bing Local lets you verify by phone or even by the US Mail.
Bing, which is owned by Microsoft, recently took over the search engine duties for Yahoo, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Bing Local and Yahoo! Local merged into one service in the near future. Still, in order to get information about your business in front of the most people possible, you should take advantage of the free listing services offered by all three websites.