If your business depends on local customers, you’ll benefit from a free listing in Google Places. Today, most of your customers are using internet search engines to find local services and businesses instead of the traditional Yellow Pages. So it makes sense to take advantage of these free listings offered by online directories for businesses. The most popular, and currently the largest, of all is Google Places.
You can start by visiting http://places.google.com and clicking on the ‘get started now’ button under ‘Get your business found on Google.’ After signing in, or signing up, at no cost, you’ll be able to list your business, whether it’s a U-pick strawberry patch or a wholesale plant nursery. You can include photos or add a map. To add a map, visit: http://google.com/help/maps/getmaps/plot-one.html
Getting a basic listing is quite simple, but there are a few ways to help your business appear near the top of the listings if you have any local competitors listed as well.
First, remember Google values good content, so be sure you fill out your business profile with quality information. Follow their directions for completing the listing to the letter, and don’t leave any blank spaces.
Next, encourage your customers to leave feedback and positive reviews on any web sites related to your business, such as local directories published by groups like the Chamber of Commerce. You can also ask customers to leave reviews or testimonials on your own web site, but be sure they are legitimate and genuine.
Finally, If you don’t have one yet, your business needs a web site, ideally with it’s own domain name, www.hugeplants.com, for example. Having a web site will give your business, however small it is, a giant boost in the Google rankings. As more and more businesses sign up for Google Places, those who have a web site – the older, the better – will have a better shot at a listing near the top. Almost any web hosting service can help you obtain a domain name and set up a WordPress site, which ranks well with Google, as WordPress is easy to index. The web hosting business is so competitive, it’s easy to find a capable service for under $10 a month. If you are unwilling to part with that much each month, sign up for Google’s free service at www.blogger.com, or the free version of WordPress at www.wordpress.com.
In addition to Google Places, other major online ‘local’ directories worth exploring are: http://bing.com/local, http://listings.local.yahoo.com, http://yelp.com, http://linkedin.com, http://citysearch.com, http://listings.mapquest.com, http://advertise.local.com. Currently, you can list at any of these at no charge for a basic listing in their directory.