One of the new small business trends for 2010 is to re-engage local business owners. Many small business owners are making a shift in their marketing and networking strategies from the online community to the local community. This can prove to be beneficial and strengthen collaborations among small business owners. Establishing joint ventures and referral programs has always been viewed as a solid marketing strategy. To enhance your local marketing efforts you should claim your business profile on Google and Bing.
There are 3 fantastic benefits to claiming your business:
1. Let’s your local community know who you are
2. Your satisfied clients can post rave reviews about your services
3. Organically increase your search engine optimization
By adding your business profile to sites like Google and Bing you make it even easier for your local community to find you. More people search locally on Google than anywhere else. Think yellow pages, but via search engine and there is NO COST. When someone does a search for your type of product or service, you increase the chances of them finding you in the results.
When you claim your Google or Bing business profile be sure to make it as complete as possible; this includes: verifying your address, phone number and hours of operation. You can also add things like: your logo/photo, brief bio, website, email address, top five categories you would like to be listed in (you can even create your own to refine your niche), payment options, videos, coupons and post real-time updates. What better way to get your basic business information in front of local potential clients?
The best part about claiming and adding your profile to Google and Bing is that you can have your satisfied clients and energetic fans post reviews directly to your profile. Just like you see reviews for restaurants, auto repair shops, stores, movies, etc. potential clients can read rave reviews about your product or services. You can request clients submit a review as part of your quality control program. Instead of sending them a survey simply ask them to submit a review to your profile. You can then add those reviews to your website.
See the results yourself. On Google, you can see how many times people have viewed your listing, what actions they took, and where they came from in your local area. Google and Bing improve your chances of showing up in local search results using information about your business from all over the web. Your reviews will improve those search results as well.
With all that being said, there are a couple of caveats. In our world of instant technology, a bad testimonial or review can spread like wild fire, particularly in a local area. Please be mindful of your clients’ experience. You should always focus on client service first and not the sale. Client service speaks volumes over a poor product. If and when you receive a bad review, take action immediately. Contact the reviewer directly, inquire about the source of their dissatisfaction and attempt to make amends. Also, be wary of scrupulous business owners who attempt to claim your business. They will add a profile with your business name, but their business address in attempt to get your potential clients to their location or call. Ensure your business information is updated and accurate on a regular basis.
Claim your business profile AND claim new clients.
p.s. Yelp has also been mentioned as a search engine to post and claim your business profile. However, there have been some recent concerns about their business practices. You can read one of the stories here.
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A.Michelle Blakeley is the Founder and CEO of Simplicity, Inc.; a progressive small business development firm. She manages her clients’ business expectations and prevents information overload via Micro Business Therapy™ and Micro Business Action Plans. She is featured in Forbes.com and the Financial Post as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter and the host of Simple Truths for Women Entrepreneurs on BlogTalkRadio.com.