Online listings give your business the opportunity to show up in front of potential customers. Through this free form of advertising, you can appeal to customers who are looking for a product or service, which will lead to greater traffic and sales. Online listings can make a huge difference when used correctly. To see if yours are working for you, answer these three questions.
1. Are your online listings thorough and accurate?
The first step to harness the power of online listings is to claim your listings on websites like Google and Yelp. Once you’ve got them, the next step is to get the information right. When your listing is accurate, it speaks volumes to customers and search engines. Get found by making sure you have these listing essentials:
- Business name
- Hours of operation
- Phone number
- Information that searchers want
Beyond your contact information, searchers are likely looking for something extra. For instance, Morrison’s Irish Pub, one of the six businesses selected for a marketing revitalization during season 3 of Small Business Revolution — Main Street, discovered that more than 80 percent of customers read a menu before deciding to eat at a restaurant. Research also showed that searches including words like “open now” and “near me” have grown more than 200 percent, so Morrison’s owners added descriptive words and images to build a more robust listing for their pub.
Additionally, Morrison’s realized that being listed as a bar led to many missed opportunities, and it wasn’t the most accurate description of the business. By changing the listing category to “Irish Pub,” “Irish Restaurant” and “Lunch Restaurant,” the eatery is getting found by people searching for pubs, restaurants and lunch.
2. Do your listings showcase what makes your business unique?
Online listings serve as free advertising for your business; don’t miss the opportunity to highlight the factors that set you apart. Brainstorm the questions a customer would have — like what your business is, what makes you special, why customers should buy from you — and highlight the answers in your listings. Try researching your industry and target market. If your audience is likely to want “gluten-free food,” try to incorporate that wording into your description and show pictures of what makes your restaurant stand out in that category.
By listing their restaurant on Google, TripAdvisor and Yelp, the owners of Lovett’s Soul Food reached new diners. Not only did they capture more attention, but they persuaded more locals and tourists to give their food a try. Simply by filling out their listing profiles, Lovett’s made sure that their passion for soul food and great hospitality translated online. Adding a business description and delectable imagery helped paint a picture for customers, so that they could get a taste of the restaurant before visiting in person.
3. Can search engines and users get the info they need?
Once your listings are accurate and convey your value, you have to make sure that potential customers and search engines can easily find your business. Search engines like Google favor listings that are consistent across the internet. And, as we talked about with “Irish Pub” and “Soul Food,” the right words make all the difference, so take the time to finish strong by explicitly stating what you have to offer.
Take a look at Bluff City Outdoors: The bait and tackle shop updated its information to be consistent everywhere the business appeared online. It also made sure to tell customers about the shop’s specialty catfishing gear. This helped search engines understand the business’s value and return accurate results to searchers. Since the revamp, Bluff City Outdoors has appeared in more than 400 searches on Yelp, received 5,000 monthly average views, and enjoyed more than 300 monthly actions such as calls, inquiries and visits to the website.
While marketing might bring thoughts of social media and slogans, the reality is that there are countless opportunities to reach your customer base, and those who are likely to become customers. By claiming and optimizing online listings, you’ll be found for the right reasons, right when potential customers need you.