Your business may be hiding from customers without knowing it


Between eight and twelve million businesses are invisible to prospective customers, according to an Interactive Advertising Bureau white paper released April 29 – and it’s largely because of their own inaction.

Lost in cyberspace

Of an estimated 16 to 20 million businesses, the white paper reports, only two to three million have marketers actively managing their online listings. And according to 2011 Google statistics, some 8 million businesses hadn’t claimed their listings at all. Too many of those are small and home-based businesses.

This is a huge lost opportunity, because unless they’re in brick-and-mortar locations that are traffic magnets, unlisted businesses might as well not be in business.

Consumers search for businesses based on what they’re looking to buy, and they overwhelmingly do it with online searches – either one of many online directories like YP, Yelp, Manta and local and vertical specific directories; or search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing; or social network media like Facebook, Google+ or Linkedin; or mobile apps.

About 40 percent of consumers go online for local searches each day, 67 percent at least three or four times a week.

It’s easy to get yourself found

The good news is that all it takes to remedy this situation is an hour or so of free labor.

In order to list your business on online directories, you need to know what they are, so Google “online directories.” Or, for links to 50 of them, go here.

Then, create word processing files that contain your business name, your contact information, a description of what you do, your logo and/or a photo of your storefront, and so on.

As you go from directory to directory, you can copy and paste in the relevant information in the right places.

If your walk-in address is different from your official address, make sure to lead with it. If you don’t have a walk-in address, at least specify your service area.

Make sure to highlight the principal ways that customers can contact you. If you work by phone, then it’s your phone number; if by e-commerce, your website URL.

If you have product photos, post them. If you have one or more videos, post it (or them). If you have a menu, post it. If you’re offering a price-off deal, post the coupon. If you have good testimonials, post those, too. If you do business in several listed categories, then find all the relevant categories and repeat the process before moving on to the next directory.

Doing this will make your business visible in more ways than you’d expect. Each online listing creates an incoming link from a trusted source to your website – and that, in turn, improves your search ranking.

Getting your business listed online sounds like more work than it really is. You can get a good selection of listings in an hour or two at most. And it’s a more more productive use of time than sitting around wondering why the phone doesn’t ring.

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