Free Online Advertising
A decade ago, getting your name and phone number in front of customers was simple. You put one ad in the yellow pages and one in the local newspaper.
Those days are over.
Today, over 80% of your customers will look for you online before they call. In order to make sure they can find you, below is a checklist of places your business needs to be registered so customers can find you online.
Google Places. Have you ever looked up a local business in Google and seen a map with their business location on it? If you click the link you can see not only their business name and location, but you can even see their logo, business hours and a free coupon. This service is provided through Google Places. Registering your business here is free and easy. However, you should take the time to write down your business description and 4-5 keyword phrases (for example, “wedding photography”) that you’ll use to help people find you.
Yahoo Local Business. While most folks use Google, you should still take the time to register with Yahoo Local Business. They have a similar registration process, but you’ll have to first create a free Yahoo account to join.
Bing Local Listing Center. Bing is Microsoft’s competitor to Google, and while small it is growing quickly. Start here to list your business on Bing. Note that if you don’t already have a Windows Live ID, you’ll need to create one in order to list your business on Bing.
CitySearch. Look up your business on CitySearch.com. If you’re already listed, you can register for an account and update your listing for free.
Yellow Pages. That’s right – the phone book is online. Take a minute to look your business up in the yellow pages, then click the option “improve this listing.” Here you can enter your business hours and much of the same information you entered in Google and Yahoo.
What about the others? If you register your business on Google, Yahoo and Bing, you’ll have covered 90% of the searches online. But that doesn’t mean you should stop there. Take some time to search for your type of local business online. If you see a photography website that lists your competitors, you should register there too.
1. Write everything down! As you create new accounts in order to register your business, you’ll be creating new accounts with passwords. You must have this information to be able to modify your listings later. Keep the account names and passwords in a safe place.
2. As you answer all the Google Places questions (for example, “what services do you offer?”) copy and paste them in a word processing document on your computer. This makes it easy to reuse them again when you register for the other services, and you should put the same keywords in your website to make it show up higher on the search engines.