If you’re a business that operates out of a physical, brick and mortar storefront, then the odds are you want to attract and serve customers that are nearby - or local - to you.
In this lesson we’ll be explaining the ins and outs of one of the best ways to connect with local customers: local directories. By the time it’s done you’ll know how to get started, where to list your business and how to manage your “local” profile.
Local directories are a great way for local businesses to connect with potential customers in their area. The first step is to create a listing in local directories.
These online listings include your key information, like your business name, your address and your telephone number.
Many local directories require that your business has four walls or a local service area in order to be listed, so virtual businesses that don’t meet with customers directly are usually ineligible.
To get started, you’ll need to pull together the name of your business as you want it to appear everywhere online, your street address, or where you receive mail in the post, and your phone number.
The name of your business seems straightforward, right? But, consistency is key. If the sign in front of your shop says Mike’s Bikes, then you don’t want to list your shop like that in one directory and as Michael’s Bicycles in another.
For the address, you’ll need a physical address or location. Post office boxes and shared locations usually won’t be accepted.
Just like with your business name, enter your address in the same exact way for every directory.
Telephone numbers should be local as well, including area and country code, so generally you won’t want to use a freephone number.
You’ve got to have these three things—name, address, telephone number—to land local customers.
Now that you know what to list, it’s time to find out where to list it. There are loads of online directories to choose from, but we’ll start with the obvious ones.
First, you want your business and all those great local details to show up on the most popular search engines, like Yahoo!, Bing and Google—and all of these have local versions and local business listings for you to use.
You should also explore options on major local directories, social networks and review sites, and some of these might be industry specific. Not sure where to find them? Try searching for a business that’s similar to yours to see where they appear.
Every local listing site has its own registration and verification process, but most work essentially the same way.
You need to include those three key pieces—name, address and phone number—plus additional business details like your working hours, photos of all those beautiful bikes, videos of your shop, and anything else they’ll let you list. You may be asked to choose one or more categories to describe your business, and while you might not find the perfect category, you should always try to choose the closest fit.
Sometimes the directories will ask you to prove that you are, in fact, the owner of the business you’re verifying. It makes sense, and every directory is different, but most will do verify you by doing things like mailing you a postcard with a special code on it, leaving a voice or text message for you with a code, or sending you an email with verification instructions.
Once you’re approved, you can update and manage your listing any time. That just means regularly reviewing and changing the particulars as needed.
If you’re listed on a bunch of directories—and you should be—you’ll want to keep track of what you’ve got where, maybe by making a spreadsheet.
You always want to keep your local listings consistent and up-to-date. Remember if your name, address or phone number change, you need to update all those listings immediately.
To sum up, you want to connect with your local customers, and that means taking advantage of the major search engines’ local business listings and creating profiles on business directory websites, review sites and more.
Being there gives you the best shot of connecting with local customers.
- where to start
- how to list your business
- how to manage your local profiles.