Monday, June 22, 2009

Make sure your business is listed in an Internet search!

Last Sunday I found out about another great tool for businesses. And it’s FREE! Ever go searching online for a local veterinarian or plumber? Remember how cool it was when you typed the city, state, and business category … and …voila – a list of businesses appeared for you to research? I probably use that type of search every day for one reason or another. In the back of my mind I’ve wondered if I could list my business there as well. Turns out I can, and so can you.

Google and Microsoft (Bing) both offer the opportunity to plug businesses into their search engines for local business searches. Google’s option is in their Local Business Center (http://www.google.com/local/add) and Microsoft Bing is in their Local Listing Center (https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx). The two services are virtually identical and allow you to create a business listing for your business complete with address, phone, website, email, and a brief description of your product or services. They even show where you are on a map! I think that’s pretty cool. I don’t know why, but all this technology stuff still excites me! You can also input additional details about your business including your business category (type of business), operating hours, and the payment options that you allow. Upload a video (next on my list!) or pictures; input other information such as parking availability and the brands that you carry. They even leave some blank fields for you to add information relevant to your business specifically. Your information is validated with a phone call (Google - be sure to be right by the phone because they call immediately) or by mailing you a post card (Google or Bing). Simple as that. Oh, did I mention, IT’S FREE!

If you have a business and don’t want to pay a fortune (I mean a fortune!) to advertise in the yellow pages, this is the way to go. I mean how many of you actually go to one of those old paper phone books that they still to this day deliver to your doorstep when looking for a business? Not me, when I’m looking for someone to repair my leaky faucet, the first place I go is to the internet. And the search engines I use are Google and Bing. Now when your prospective customers are looking for your product or service, maybe they’ll see your Local Business Listing and give you a call. That big phone book is good for other things though, like giving your little ones a boost at the table or killing flies! Save a tree, list your business in the online search engines. Being internet savvy is being “green”!

[Chester Adds] On the Google Local Business Center you can also enter coupons! That’s right you can offer a special deal on your super-duper whatever for the month of August and hopefully generate a little extra business from the people who find you in a search. Google AdWords will cost you, but these Local Business Center Coupons are also… FREE. Ok, maybe you already knew all of this and if you did, how come you didn’t tell us? We want to make sure all of you who have small (or even big) businesses know about this feature. Even if you run a side business out of your house you can list your business, direct people to your website or blog, and offer coupons to first time customers without doing anything more than spending a little of your time to set it up. And I would like to see Kristin kill a fly with a phone book… a person could hurt themselves doing that.

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