Entrepreneurs and other small business owners are all too aware of the importance of having an online presence in the form of a blog or a website. However, of the millions of pages in the World Wide Web, businesses now also have to use targeted online marketing methods to reach their core audiences. And for small businesses, this may mean creating content and listing their online presence in directories that are specific to geography or industries.
After all, over 95% of small businesses across the U.S. are service-based and provide locally driven goods and services. Why reach out to demographics outside your state or region if you cannot deliver the goods within expectations?
There are thus a few local listing directories, run by Yahoo!, Google Places, and Bing. While Bing and Google have complicated verification processes, Yahoo! local business listings can be verified with a simple code by users and just like that, small businesses can effectively control the core information available on the Internet. These include operating hours, photos, business address, contact information, keywords and responding to customer reviews. Why verify your Yahoo! local business listing if anyone can fill in the business description?
Yahoo! requires a physical business address for small businesses to verify their profiles, and this criterion creates a more trusting platform when users search for services that your business may provide via the directory. There are so many online scams and lack of accountability in reneged transactions, so users are naturally wary of unverified profiles. You can also increase trust by linking it to the corporate website, where even more information and transparency is available for customer perusal.
Control the keywords
Search-engine optimisation is now key in any business document or description posted online and entrepreneurs can significantly boost their visibility among target customers. For example, a transport company will use keywords such as "car transporter" and even more focused captions like "Florida transporter", "college moves", "buying a car online" and "boat transport" to promote specific products to different customer types.
Besides narrowing it by geography through local listings, Yahoo! verified accounts also can be visible in 40 different sites under Yahoo! Localworks network for $29.99 a month. The Localworks service guarantees 150 million views a month, and also makes it easy for non-tech savvy entrepreneurs by aiding them in setting up a business profile with a step-by-step template including videos and photos.
For businesses with branches in multiple states, you can create location-specific pages with direct contact information that will give customers that personal touch when they can talk to branch managers directly and address their local issues on the spot.
Yahoo! Enhanced Local Listings, considerably cheaper at $9.95 monthly, give verified users more options to make their business profiles more attractive with more photos - perfect for retailers and those in the food and beverages business appealing to local customers who are looking to try new places - as well as online coupons to attract new customers.
Users can also add on customised offers to push new products, and thus work out which promotional coupons work best for their business. These may even differ by branches, and season, and can be another way to forge deeper connection with business partners by promoting each other's services on Yahoo! local business listings with minimal costs. For instance, an auto dealer company can boost visibility with customers as well as within the auto dealer network by mentioning its membership of the extensive and trusted National Independent Auto Dealers Association (NIADA).
Thus, not only does Yahoo! make it easy to verify your local business listing, it also offers a host of benefits when verified users take advantage of its specialised services and linkages with multiple sites and multimedia content.
John Gary works for Direct Connect Auto Transport. He has a degree in Sociology for the University of Pennsylvania and a Master degree in Communication from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.