How Do You Search For Local Businesses?
When you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, the closest dry cleaner, or a trendy local hair salon, how do you find it? If you’re like most people, you take out your laptop, phone or tablet, pull up a search engine and put in your query.
After you search and check out a few of the results, how quickly do you then make a decision on which restaurant to try or where to go for that haircut?
Most people view a few of the top results and then decide where to go in a matter of minutes.
All-Star Truth #1: Local Search Happens Fast
You had a need, you searched and you made your decision (and likely a purchase). In fact, according to comScore, more than 50% of all local searches end with a purchase. On mobile devices, that number skyrockets to 80%.
This is the same experience that thousands of potential local customers repeat every day, signifying a tremendous opportunity for local businesses.
All-Star Truth #2: You Need to Be Listed Everywhere
In order to capitalize on these searches, your small business needs to be listed everywhere. By everywhere, we mean local search engines, local directories and social platforms — anywhere a potential customer might look for information about local businesses. Additionally, your listings need to be accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive so your potential customers can make informed decisions.
You have a very short window of time to capture the searcher’s attention, and incorrect or incomplete information could drive them right to your competitors.
All-Star Truth #3: Your Listing Information Is at Your Fingertips
You have two options to check how your business is listed today across directory sites:
You could start by manually searching for your business or group name and location on top-tier local listing sites like Google, Yelp and YP.com. If your business or website shows up on all three, you’re likely in good shape.
If you want an easier way, there are free directory search tools available to quickly and easily find out how your business shows up in key directories.
All-Star Truth #4: Getting Listed Everywhere Doesn’t Have to Take Forever
It can take a lot of time and effort to manually list your business information on hundreds of local listing sites.
Before you make the effort or spend the money to get listed on local listing sites, start tracking how your customers find your business.
Make it part of your normal checkout process to ask new customers how they found your business: were they referred by a friend, did they find you on Yelp, or did they just notice your shop as they walked by?
After you’ve asked this question for a month or so, invest some time in getting your business online.
Or you can take the easy route. Some online tools enable you to submit your local business information one time in a process that takes about five minutes. After you submit, they distribute the listing to more than 100 directories online, ensuring consistency while providing a very strong reach across directories.
There are many misconceptions surrounding Local Search, so here’s a quick list of All-Star Dos and Don’ts to help you better understand this important opportunity for your business:
- Check how your business ranks in Local Search
- List your business in as many directories as possible
- Make sure your listings are consistent (phone number, email, URL should match)
- Track how customers find your business
- Assume that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is enough
- Wait for directories to create listings for your business
- Make key information (phone number, hours, address) difficult to find on your website
- Forget to monitor your listings on a regular basis
If you’ve checked how your business ranks, taken steps to track how customers find your business, and submitted your business online to key directories, you’re well on your way to becoming a Local Search All-Star.
Now enjoy all those new customers who walk in ready to purchase!
Alex Mitchell is a product manager for Webs, the digital services division of Vistaprint N.V. (Nasdaq: VPRT). In this role, Alex is responsible for building digital products that help small businesses establish their digital presence, attract new customers and look more professional online. Before joining Webs in 2013, Alex spent two years at JP Morgan Chase. There, he worked in the Consumer Bank Marketing Analytics group which was responsible for optimizing a $500M annual marketing budget. Specifically, Alex was responsible for analyzing the financial results of historical marketing campaigns and projecting future results for more than 20 distinct marketing initiatives in both offline and online channels. Alex graduated from the Business School at the University of Michigan, with a degree in Finance. He is currently pursuing his MBA at George Washington University, with a focus in entrepreneurship. He resides in Washington, D.C. and enjoys tennis, flag football and investing in his free time.