With over 142 million average visitors per month, Yelp is one of the most important online directories. Understand the ins and outs of Yelp, and use it to build customer trust.

How Yelp can help

Yelp is a crowd-sourced review site, which means customer create the content (i.e. reviews). This is a powerful way for businesses to build credibility as well as boost visibility. A Yelp Business Page is free and provides the exposure you need to reach more customers. When people are looking at Yelp, they’re likely considering a purchase, service, dinning experience, etc. Positive reviews and a complete listing can go a long way to capturing their business and, according to this fact sheet, most reviews on Yelp are positive. On top of that, a majority of adults check reviews before making a purchase.

Image result for how many customers check yelp before deciding where to buy

If you haven’t already, the first step is to officially claim your business listing. Once you’ve claimed your business, you’ll have control of what information shows up on your listing. Some things to include: Your hours and location, photos and a link to your website. Restaurants can benefit from adding a menu.

Businesses with a physical location get the perk of showing up in nearby searches: Yelp-listed businesses will pop up on mobile device maps when potential customers are searching for their products or services.  Yelp gives customers an idea of what to expect and positive customer reviews build trust.

Optimize your listing

To capitalize on the search engine optimization (SEO) you can get from a Yelp page, consider these tips:

  • Figure out which categories fit your business. When selecting your location and services, think carefully about how you want to show up. Being specific helps, such as “florist in New Hampshire.”
  • Check competitor profiles. See which categories they pick to decide where you can best stand out in the market.
  • Link to your Yelp listing from your website. This helps build authority on Google.
  • Include keywords in your business description. If you’re the new florist in New Hampshire, talk about how your “florist” shop is the hottest spot for “New Hampshire” weddings. The more you use your keywords naturally, the more search engines will recognize and pick up what your business’s goal is.
  • Fill in as much information as possible. Accurate and up-to-date information matters because inaccurate information leads to a greater chance of negative reviews from customers. More information means customers will have more of their questions answered and feel comfortable before their first visit. Consider including a list of your products and services.

Yelp do’s and don’ts:

To make the most of Yelp, find out what to avoid and what to focus on.

Do:

  • Take time to add quality photos. Humans are visual and, while searching for clothes or haircuts, photos help people make decisions and form opinions about your brand. Go behind the scenes to show what’s really going on in the back of your business. They don’t have to be professionally done to work.
  • Caption your photos. Pictures that represent your services and custom interactions help potential customers see what working with you would really be like.
  • Encourage positive reviews. Let them happen naturally (Yelp doesn’t recommend asking for reviews) but make sure they know you’re on Yelp. A simple link to your Yelp page on your website or in an email will help drive awareness and engagement. And when you get a positive review, strengthen relationships by communicating and letting reviewers know you appreciate them.
  • Respond to negative reviews. Publicly responding allows potential customers to see how you handle criticism and what steps you take to make sure customers are satisfied. Yelp visitors typically read both, so make sure you’re professional in your response.

Don’t:

  • Ask for reviews, offer bribes or pressure reviewers. Giving freebies, discounts or payments in exchange for a positive review (or to remove a negative one) is frowned upon and will likely be found by Yelp when they comb through for spam reviews.
  • Be vague when describing your business. Categories should be specific to ensure that your main services and activities are covered and people know what makes you different from the rest, i.e., “Irish bar and grill” instead of “restaurant.”
  • Post reviews of your business or of competitors. Yelp’s content guidelines prohibit it.
  • Work with companies or 3rd-party vendors offering to “fix your reviews.” Companies that claim to be able to help make your reviews better are prohibited by Yelp and are likely a scam.

Yelp in real life

It’s not just a good idea: Yelp works. In one measure of success, a bar and grill saw a 471 percent increase in Yelp traffic in one year.

Additionally, take a look at this restaurant that hadn’t claimed its online listings. By actively taking control of their Yelp listing, and describing themselves not just as a “restaurant” but also as a “soul food restaurant,” Lovett’s Soul Food found they showed up higher in search results. The updated Lovett’s listing included information about the family, the food and the dining experience — which helped them capture more customers.

The business owners said, “As soon as [we] updated our business as a soul food restaurant on our Google listing, we had more people calling.” Their Yelp listing now averages 100 views a month and a conversion rate of 10 percent (meaning one out of every 10 people is calling the restaurant, looking for directions to the eatery and so on). All because they took advantage of Yelp.

Other powerful directories to consider

Outside of Yelp, there are many places to list your business online. With four out of five consumers looking online for information, and half of searchers visiting a store that same day, it just makes sense. Two powerhouses:

  1. Google My Business is one of the best directories to focus on. As a major search engine, billions of searches happen every day. One great benefit is that your business’s exact location can be listed in a mobile-friendly map to help people not only search and find your business, but navigate to it shortly after. An analytics function also lets you track who’s searching for you and what other sites they’ve visited.
  2. TripAdvisor is a great option for towns with lots of tourists and travelers. More than 455 million people visit the site each month to find travel opportunities. You’ll get notifications when new reviews come in. TripAdvisor will help your business increase brand exposure and generate traffic.

With information-filled online directories, such as Yelp, Google My Business and TripAdvisor, you can enjoy an increase in customer trust and interaction.

Get traffic moving your way

As a veteran entrepreneur, you’re always looking for ways to get more revenue to keep your business chugging along. But what’s the best and fastest way to ramp it up? Here are eight creative ways to attract customers and, in turn, bring more cash into your business.

Add eye appeal with product videos

On top of adding interest to your website, product videos can motivate shoppers to complete their purchases online. In fact, 73 percent of people are more likely to purchase a product or service if they can watch a video explaining it beforehand. That’s a great reason to add online videos to your marketing repertoire. Whatever type of video you run with, be sure that it’s professionally produced and relevant to your customers.

Advance Auto Parts uses how-to videos like the one below to keep visitors engaged and on their website:

Advance Auto Parts video still

In the following example, Thinkgeek.com uses a product video to spark excitement and sales for their Twinkling Milky Way Skirt:

Thinkgeek video still

Get listed online

Thousands of people use online directories to find things they’re interested in. That’s why it’s so important to list and claim your business in popular online directories, such as Yahoo, Yelp and Google My Business. Customers most frequently seek company hours, product information, business location and directions, but it’s also a good idea to include your phone number, website URL and photos of your business. Once the information is in place, scan your online listings to make sure they are thorough and accurate. According to Yext, 73 percent of consumers lose trust in a local business with incorrect information. You don’t want to let revenue slip away because of a misspelled business name or the wrong hours.

Get noticed with promotional items and packaging

You wouldn’t turn away free advertising, would you? That’s exactly what you get when you use branded promotional products, apparel and packaging. Once customers don a T-shirt bearing your logo or leave your establishment with a branded shopping bag, your business will get attention from their family, friends, coworkers or anyone they happen to pass on the street.

Expand your reach with social media

With 1.56 billion active daily users on Facebook as of 2019, a whopping number of consumers are using the social site to find products, services and brands to solve their everyday problems. That’s where a Facebook Business Page comes in handy. When people land on your page, they’re more likely to remember your brand and share it with their own connections, which can lead to more sales and revenue for you.

Remember, a shopper who engages with a retailer through social media is likely to spend 19 percent more than the average consumer, so don’t discount Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. These channels are great places to network with consumers, provide customer service and catch people’s attention with eye-catching social media ads tailored to their specific geographic location and demographics.

Stay connected with email marketing

If you’re already emailing customers about promotions and sales events, that’s great. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more you can do with email marketing to keep customers engaged and in a buying mindset. For example, you can schedule automated emails to welcome new subscribers or wish customers a happy birthday. You can also send out an email newsletter with expert information customers will love to read and share with their friends.

In this example, OfficeSupply.com gets customers excited to shop with a Cinco de Mayo flash sale:

Officesupply screenshot

Exit pop-ups

Pop-ups give you the power to entice visitors who are getting ready to leave your website to stop and take a second look at what you have to offer. Try offering a limited-time discount, free shipping, a free trial or just a heads-up that the product they’re shopping for is nearly sold out.

Energize your website

If you don’t have a professional website, get one. If you do have a website, spruce it up to make it easy for visitors to shop. For example, make the load time lightning fast, so you don’t lose visitors. Be clear about what your business has to offer, and optimize your website with the right keywords to lift your site to the top of search engines like Google. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) can help drive traffic to your site and revenue to your business.

Start selling bundles

Offer customers a complete solution by bundling products that naturally go together. Since bundles are marketed as being cheaper than buying the products separately, customers perceive them as a great deal. You can build a bundle around a higher-priced item, such as a gas grill, and make it seem like an incredible value by including a cookbook, a BBQ sauce sampler and grill tools.

In the example below, Zojirushi bundles their breadmaker with an oven mitt and measuring spoons, so customers can start baking right away:

Bundle screenshot

A steady stream of revenue is the key to growing and sustaining your business, so keep that cash coming by trying one or all of these featured tactics today. While some are easier to implement than others, Deluxe offers a range of services from email marketing to search engine optimization to help you get results.

Get the financial know-how you need

Learn the 6 finance essentials every business needs to succeed in our free eBook, Finance Fundamentals.

For many entrepreneurs, attracting customers and getting found by people in the community is a game of trial and error. In the small towns of Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania, and Alton, Illinois, business owners tried everything from newspaper advertising to coupons to community events to promote themselves. But nothing seemed to deliver more customers.

As consecutive winners for a Main Street makeover, each town received a $500,000 revitalization from Deluxe. The transformations were captured in an original eight-episode series telling their stories.

The featured businesses are now taking time to look back on the experience and share which marketing improvements have made the biggest difference.

Online listings grab attention and retention

Merry Lovett and her son, Brad Chavours, took their passion for soul food from family reunions and turned it into a business. Though full of family recipes and quality, home-cooked food, Lovett’s Soul Food needed help handling the daily operations and turning a profit while drawing more dine-in customers — 75 percent of orders were takeout.

They listed their restaurant on Google, TripAdvisor and Yelp. In return, Lovett’s reached new diners and persuaded more locals and tourists to give its food a try. Filling out their listing profiles was simple and intentional: Merry and Brad made sure their passion for soul food and great hospitality translated online. They also made sure to add a business description and mouth-watering imagery to give a taste of the restaurant before customers visit in person.

In another success story, Benjamin Golley of Today’s Beauty offers affordable hair and skin care products that empower customers. It’s not about the money to Golley though, it’s about time: He wants more time to give back to the community. But when a competitor opened up nearby and sales decreased, Golley realized something needed to change.

Today’s Beauty needed a branding and marketing makeover so they could “look good and do good — and make money doing so.” With marketing updates like a new logo, website and more, Today’s Beauty saw an increase in online traffic and social media interactions and impressions. Today’s Beauty has more than doubled its monthly numbers with 2,192 searches, 6,580 total views on Google Maps and Search, and 224 total actions, including 65 phone calls.

“As we talk to the new faces we see visiting our store, they tell us that they’re finding us thanks to our correct information on these platforms,” said Golley. “I got an opportunity to tell my story and share how I felt, and Deluxe listened,” he said. “With our new branding, Today’s Beauty is a household name in the Alton community now, and for that, we can’t thank Deluxe enough.”

Revamped website brings refreshing experience

With a heart for the Irish experience, Lisa and Mary Morrison, and Mary’s daughter, Katey VanKirk opened a pub in the heart of downtown Alton. They focus on authentic Irish dishes and the authentic ambiance of a small Irish pub. New to owning a restaurant, they needed help managing expenses and traffic inconsistencies.

Morrison’s needed to revamp their website to communicate their authentic story and emphasize the Irish culture that is at the heart of the pub. Being a true taste of Ireland — including the entire spectrum of Irish whiskeys — was Morrison’s unique selling proposition, and they needed to show it prominently. To help, the Deluxe team created an easy-to-read whiskey menu and featured the whiskeys on the pub’s new website, social media pages and online listings. As a result, they were able to generate more customer interest, which led to increased foot traffic.

Google drives customers to auto shop

Megan and Roland Hems have owned Hems Truck and Auto for the last 10 years. Their challenge is the same as many other small business owners — finding the right balance between work and home life, and making ends meet on a weekly and daily basis. The Deluxe team provided business and financial advice and showed the Hems how to create a better online presence and mobile website experience.

Since getting verified on Google, the shop has gotten noticed by thousands of people searching for automotive services. Hundreds of those searchers have visited the website, called the business or gotten directions to the shop. Traffic to Hems’ Yelp page has also risen significantly, resulting in more inquiries and a steady stream of new customers.

“All of the changes, upgrades and improvements Deluxe made help us feel like a ‘real shop,’ and the customers, vendors and locals are treating us accordingly now, too!” Megan said in an interview with a local newspaper.

Social media attracts weeknight diners

Chef Robert Angelaccio opened Annabella’s Italian restaurant in 2003, bringing his passion for Old World cuisine back to the community where he was raised. Robert and his wife, Alison, take pride in making every dining experience memorable. Nestled in Bristol’s historic corridor, Annabella’s is perfectly situated just steps from the popular Bristol Riverside Theatre. When a play hits the main stage, Annabella’s is bustling, but in between productions, the restaurant is often empty.

There was a big opportunity on the table for Annabella’s to connect with would-be guests online. The Deluxe team outlined a plan to rebuild Annabella’s current website and improve its social media presence. Since the mobile-friendly website and social media improvements took effect, Robert and Alison say that business has certainly increased: The sales numbers have exceeded the traffic the restaurant enjoyed when it first opened.

“I am seeing a lot more new customers on a daily basis,” Robert said.

Email marketing creates repeat customers

Paulette Kirk Kasmer opened Polka Dot Parlor to encourage women of all ages to explore their sense of fashion in a fun, supportive environment. Between the steady rotation of new merchandise and Paulette’s eye for curating the perfect outfit, customers walk out of her shop with a fresh look and a spring in their step.

To boost her sales, Paulette sought ways to bring in new customers and encourage shoppers to return to the boutique, again and again. The Deluxe team encouraged Paulette to build an email list simply by placing a notebook at the register where customers could sign up for email updates. Within a month, Polka Dot Parlor collected nearly 100 email addresses — an adequate volume to launch the shop’s first email featuring a downtown sale event. Over the next few months, her list exceeded 500 people.

“Email marketing has really helped support my branding efforts. Every time I send an email, I get more people in my shop!” Paulette said.

Website builds trust among local families

A lifelong educator, Ramona Jones has shaped young minds and nurtured children’s growth in the Philadelphia school district for more than 30 years. Recognizing a need in her own community to provide a safe place for young children to learn and develop, Ramona and her son Marcelous decided to open their own learning center in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania.

As one of the newest businesses in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania, Discover Learn and Grow needed to get noticed by the community. The team from Deluxe outlined a search engine marketing plan to make Discover Learn and Grow stand out from the competition and attract local families searching online for a preschool. Ramona’s new website and search engine marketing plan has been a huge success.

“We are at capacity and are looking to expand to a second facility!” said Ramona.

Every small business is different: The marketing moves that do wonders for one business may fall flat for another. The key is to know your target audience and convey what sets you apart from your competitors.

Not a marketer? Not a problem.

This downloadable guide covers marketing in 8 easy-to-understand sections — each filled with professional tips and advice you can put into practice right away.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated and expanded for 2019.

With 89 percent of customers starting their buying process from a search engine, it has never been so vital to show up online — especially considering that 75 percent of searchers never scroll past the first search results page. Aside from your business’s profit potential, think about your ideal customer: How hard is it for them to find you? How can you make it easier? The answers lie within search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).

It’s not enough to have a website or Facebook account. Instead, make the most of channels, such as social and email marketing, to direct traffic to your website. Meanwhile, let your website focus on reaching its full potential and get found by new customers who don’t have a relationship with your brand.

Set your website up, and take advantage of the opportunity to drive traffic to your business — online and in-store. Our free eBook, Guide to Search Engine Optimization and Marketing, will walk you through how to find success with your website.

Learn how to make your website work for you and bring in customers

  • Boost your findability with directory listings
  • Improve your organic search rankings with keywords
  • Use pay-per-click to gain traffic
  • Measure your success through metrics like impressions

Download the free Guide to Search Engine Optimization and Marketing today.

As a new business, you want to take advantage of anything that can make you more visible online. To this end, Google offers many free and paid services for business owners to leverage. From making your website more usable and tracking site traffic, to improving your website’s local search engine optimization (SEO) quality and online advertising campaigns, Google has tools to help. Here are 10 of the best:

1. Google Ads

Pay-per-click (PPC) is the most popular form of online advertising, and Google Ads — formerly Google Adwords — is the internet’s largest PPC ad network. Here’s how it works: A user bids on keywords that their target customers are using to search for the types of offerings the business sells. Ads that are tagged with those keywords appear on Google’s search results pages when a person uses those keywords to search. The PPC client is only charged for the advertising service when someone clicks his ad — performance-based costs at its best.

The Google Ads program lets users create simple four-line text ads related to the keywords they select. You set a daily budget for your PPC advertising campaign and then monitor your progress using the Ads analytic tools. You can get started with Ads by spending as little as $1 per day. This is a great way to advertise online and drive traffic to your website.

2. Google Marketing Platform

Google Marketing Platform is a suite for cross-channel marketing that bundles Google’s tools for advertising and analytics. Included in the platform’s lineup are Optimize, which enables you to run tests on your business website so you can improve user experience, and Data Studio, which turns metrics into engaging reports so you can really visualize the information. As it provides you with deep insights into website and ad data, Google Marketing Platform will give you a better understanding of what your audience is looking for.

3. Google My Business

Google My Business generates the listing that pops up for a business when consumers search for related terms through Google Search and Maps. By default, Google includes what it knows about a local business, including customer reviews from across the Web. But you can beef up your listing — and attract more customers — by submitting your own information to Google Places.

Claiming your listing is free. In addition to basic business information, you can post updates about upcoming events, describe specials and more — anything that might attract potential customers who may be searching for certain kinds of nearby businesses.

4. Google AdSense

The most popular way to make a little money from the visitors you’ve already attracted to your site is by putting ads on your own website using Google AdSense. AdSense ties into AdWords by placing content-related ads on your site. You choose the size of the ads and where they’re displayed. When a visitor clicks on an ad, Google splits the ad revenue with you. Thus, Google AdSense can help you generate some extra revenue through your website.

On the most basic level, Google Trends shows you what people around the world are currently searching for — the information is even updated in real time. But it can also be a valuable tool for SEO keyword research and content creation. If you visit the Google Trends page and type in terms that are relevant to your business, you’ll see the search volume over time and which geographic regions have shown the most interest in those terms. You can also see the most popular topics and queries related to the terms you’re interested in. Use this data to determine which topics are popular, then create content for your website or Google Ads accordingly.

6. Google Analytics

To find out how much traffic your website attracts, where your visitors are coming from and what people do after they get to your site, use Google Analytics. This free tool can answer those questions and more. By adding some code in your site’s underlying HTML, Google Analytics will track every visitor to your site and generate helpful reports and statistics. Business owners can use the data to fine-tune their website. It’s ideally suited to a cost-conscious small business trying to improve its online performance.

7. Blogger

To boost your online presence, consider a company blog. Have one or more employees post regularly about company events, new products and industry news, and your site can quickly develop a following of potential customers. Google’s Blogger program is one of the largest blog-hosting services. It’s easy to use. And it’s free. Use it to create and host your blog.

8. YouTube

Many small businesses are using video marketing to attract customers, and they’re using YouTube, Google’s video sharing community, to do it. You can produce your own videos for a relatively low cost and then post them on YouTube for free — while gaining exposure to some of YouTube’s millions of users. Because it costs nothing to upload a video to YouTube, this platform is an affordable way to promote your business online.

9. Google Keyword Planner

Keyword research is a critical part of any SEM campaign. Before you can start creating Google Ads, you’ll have to figure out which terms will bring people to your content. Google Keyword Planner makes that process easier. This tool will help you find the right keywords for your campaigns by showing you the number of times specific terms have been searched and giving you keyword bid estimates. After you’ve found the keywords that work for your business, you can create an advertising plan and save it for future use.

10. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free service that gives you information about your website’s traffic and performance, so you can optimize your content. Within the data provided, you’ll discover which search terms visitors are using to find your site, which devices your site is being viewed on and which pages are most popular. Search console will also alert you to any issues on your site, showing you which URLs are affected, so you can make the necessary changes.

Our list could go on and on, as Google offers several more tools and services such as Gmail, Docs and Calendar. Try exploring these services and tools, and watch your online visibility improve.

Not a marketer? Not a problem.

This downloadable guide covers marketing in 8 easy-to-understand sections — each filled with professional tips and advice you can put into practice right away.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2014. It has been updated and rewritten for accuracy and relevance.

A recent eMarketer survey found that more than eight out of 10 customers use a search engine to find local products and services before they buy. Can those searchers find your business?

Understanding how search engines work — and how to make them work for you — helps you ensure your website is one of the first that customers find. Watch this free webinar to learn how to get your business found online.

The free webinar covers:

  • What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
  • What are keywords?
  • Quick SEO fixes to implement on your website today
  • The difference between paid search and organic search
  • How to get listed on different search engines
  • Where to focus your online listings

Watch this insightful webinar today.

About the presenter:

Noah Turner is the Senior Manager of Search Engine Optimization at Deluxe Corp. He has more than 10 years of experience in online marketing and web development and enjoys helping Fortune 100 companies and small business owners create winning online strategies.

Gone are the days when a business laid down an annual sum to have its information listed in the Yellow Pages. These days, it’s crucial for small businesses to instead prominently list themselves in multiple online directories.

Consider that four out five consumers in the U.S. now use search engines to find local information. Perhaps more importantly, 50 percent of those conducting local searches visit a store within a day. To make sure your business is found, we’ve outlined the top 20 places your business needs to be listed.

What to include in your online business listing

Google research shows customers most frequently seek company hours, product information, business location and directions, so make sure to include these details in your listing. You should also add your phone number, website URL and photos of your business. Depending on the site, you may be able to include links to your social media profiles. But only share that information if you are active on social — directing people to a profile that hasn’t been updated in a year isn’t going to benefit you or a potential customer.

Your business details should be consistent across every site, so keep all of this information in a document that you can refer to as you visit the directories listed below.

Top 20 places to list your business

Google My Business logo

1. Google My Business: The Goliath of search engines, of course, is Google. So, it’s no surprise that when prioritizing which online listings to pursue, experts often recommend starting with the free-of-charge Google My Business (GMB). After all, Google far outperforms every other search engine, logging an average 7.8 billion searches per day last year.

One of the greatest benefits of GMB is its listing of your business’s exact location on a mobile-friendly map — a huge boon to the 1.3 billion smartphone users expected to populate the U.S. by 2020. “You will be far more visible to the vast majority of both Android and iPhones users searching for businesses within a 5-kilometer radius,” Google advises, pointing to the SEO edge the tool provides in promoting small, local businesses over more generic corporations. “Local searchers do not want to be constantly bombarded with the same old big names that may or may not truly offer the service or product they are seeking.” GMB consistently shows up high in online searches, boosts your website’s SEO rankings, posts reviews from your customers and allows you to include the following in your profile:

  • Printable coupons
  • Special offers
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Opening hours
  • Preferred payment methods
  • And other meaningful information

Its Analytics function also allows you to track who’s searching for you and what other sites they’ve visited. The free and easy registration process for GMB is available here.

Bing logo

2. Bing Places for Business: Only Google outpaces this free Microsoft product in visits, and you can add multiple business locations, photos, videos and more during your fast, free and easy registration. Because Bing is the default search engine for desktop and tablet versions of Windows 8, some tablet, desktop and laptop owners opt for Bing over Google. Enroll here.

Yahoo logo

3. Yahoo Local Listing: Ranking third next to Google and Bing, Yahoo’s service draws millions of searches daily. A basic listing is free, but $9.95/month allows you to add photos and a company description, and $29.99/month buys you listings in more than 40 other online directories. Yahoo may no longer be the search engine heavy-hitter it once was, but it can be a nice complement to your online local strategy. Create your listing here.

Facebook logo

4. Facebook is the most widely used social media network. So, if you want to connect with consumers, this is the place to be. Creating a Facebook Business page not only gives you the opportunity to share basic information and updates about your business, but it also can help you capture leads, drive traffic to your website and reach targeted audiences with Facebook Ads. Additionally, you can get to know your customer base through Facebook Insights, which will show you the hard data on what your audience is enjoying, or Facebook groups, which enable you to have a conversation with fans. Create and claim your Facebook page here.

Apple Maps logo

5. Apple Maps is the default web mapping services for iOS. When Apple users search for local businesses through the app, all of the information is pulled from Apple Maps and not Google, so it’s important to make sure that you’re listed here. Features like third-party integration with Yelp and Siri integration make it a boon for business owners and consumers. Add your business here.

Yelp logo

6. Yelp is one of the best online sources for candid consumer reviews. Bonus: It allows you to send public or private messages (including deals) to customers and review business trends using the Yelp reporting tool. In terms of demographics, nearly 35 percent of Yelp users are 18 to 34, 60.6 percent are college grads and more than 48 percent earn $100,000 or more annually. The most reviewed categories on Yelp include shopping, restaurants and home services respectively. Enroll here.

MerchantCircle logo

7. MerchantCircle is a free network targeted toward small businesses seeking to connect with local customers and other small businesses in their areas. Users can advertise to boost their listings, post business blogs and take advantage of free marketing tools aimed at building their business. The more active they are online, the more local exposure they gain. Create a listing here.

Yellow Pages logo

8. Yellow Pages: This well-organized online version of the antiquated classic generates millions of daily searches. It offers advertising, lead generation and detailed ad performance data. Enroll through this link.

Superpages logo

9. Superpages.com: This free, easy-to-navigate service has helpful options, including weather and lottery listings, as well as fast access to popular categories, search tips and a Facebook sign-in option. Start listing here.

Yellowbook logo

10. Yellowbook allows for easily searchable business listings that include your business information, a link to your website, product descriptions, a map feature and options for display and video ads. Your info is distributed across the Yellowbook.com network and its partner sites. Enroll here.

Manta logo

11. Manta calls itself one of the largest online resources dedicated to small business. “The Manta directory boasts millions of unique visitors every month who search our comprehensive database for individual businesses, industry segments and geographic-specific listings,” it reports. “[We] deliver helpful news and advice, promotion opportunities and tools for small businesses.” Registration is lightning-fast and allows for the highlighting of your products along with options for optimization packages. Enroll through this link.

Citysearch logo

12. Citysearch: This free site specializes in listings for shops, restaurants, bars, spas, hotels and other businesses across the U.S., optimizing them via a partner network that includes Expedia, Urbanspoon and MerchantCircle. Listings are accessed through the popular Citysearch mobile app, and businesses preferred by users are regularly named in local “best of” lists that cover 20 categories. List your business here.

MapQuest logo

13. MapQuest: This blast-from-the-past web-mapping service owned by Verizon gets searchers to your physical location quickly and easily via detailed maps. The Washington Post recently ran a story noting that one MapQuest mobile app still appears for every 20 smartphone users who have Google Maps. Include your business here.

14. Local.com: This free directory gives searchers detailed information about events, deals and info relevant to a given city. Its database includes more than 16 million business listings covering every zip code in the U.S. Paid ad options allow for coupons and other features. Enroll here.

Foursquare logo

15. Foursquare: This combination business directory and social networking site allows users to check in via map and comment about your business, with or without the Foursquare mobile app. As of last year, it boasted 3 billion global visits per month. Sign up for Foursquare here.

Best of the Web logo

16. Best of the Web: This site offers a series of web directories with millions of websites listed. Their team of editors aim to make listings relevant and unique. Twenty-five million people search BOTW local every year. Multiple pricing options are available. Sign up here.

Angie's List logo

17. Angie’s List: This respected site is known for its objective consumer reviews in more than 720 categories. More than 6 million U.S. households turn to Angie’s List to research, hire, rate and review local service providers. Create an Angie’s List file on your company here.

Hotfrog logo
18. Hotfrog: This free, detailed online directory can help get your website listed in Google search results and lets you include things like coupons for your customers. The site boasts 120 million business listings across 38 different countries. Sign up here.

Directory Critic logo

19. Directory Critic is a link-building resource that provides SEO-friendly web and article directories. Categories include general, niche and article directories. All the lists are made available at no cost. Submit your listing here.

TripAdvisor logo

20. TripAdvisor offers a flat subscription rate for any business related to the hospitality or entertainment industries in 49 markets worldwide. Calling itself the world’s largest travel site, it reaches 455 million average monthly unique visitors and so far has logged some 600 million reviews and opinions covering 7.5 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. Sign up here.

Once you’ve claimed or updated your listings in these directories, your business will be well on its way toward increasing brand exposure and generating web traffic.

How does your business show up?

Ensure your business and contact information are correct on over 40 online directories with our free scan tool.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in April 2015 and revised in May 2017; since then it has been rewritten and updated for accuracy and relevance.

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.

Get traffic moving your way

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
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Category
  • 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.

Get traffic moving your way

Did you know that 76 percent of people who conduct a search on their mobile device will visit a nearby business within a day? You can connect with those consumers when they’re looking for products or services like yours by investing time into search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of improving your website’s visibility on search engines like Google in order to drive more traffic to your site, and hopefully, to your business.

Get traffic moving your way

While it may seem that only larger companies show up at the top of search rankings, businesses of all sizes can implement SEO strategies that help them reach more potential customers. Start optimizing your website today with the following free SEO tools.

Data and insights

Tracking your website’s performance can tell you if your SEO efforts have been effective and highlight areas that need improvement. Two of the best free SEO tools to measure your success are Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

1. Google Analytics: Check your website’s overall performance with Google Analytics. Along with basic information like the number of page visits you receive, you’ll learn which buttons get the most clicks, where your visitors are located, which devices they’re using to access your website and so much more.

2. Google Search Console: See how your website is performing in Google search results and learn how people are finding your website with Google Search Console. This free tool will also alert you to any errors on your website and which pages are driving the most traffic. When used in tandem with Google Analytics, you’ll get a detailed view of your website’s performance and have the information you need to decide which technical changes to make to optimize your site.

Research

In SEO, keywords are the words and phrases that users type into search engines when making a query. For example, homeowners seeking a plumber may search the phrase “emergency leak repair,” or “unclog drain.” Incorporating the right keywords into your website content can improve your search rankings. To determine which keywords you should use, you will need to research how people are looking for the products or services that you offer. These tools will help you conduct that research and develop a keyword list.

3. Moz Keyword Explorer: Get help determining which keywords you should use. Moz Keyword Explorer will tell you which keywords you’re currently ranking for and how difficult it will be for your website to rank for more competitive or popular search terms.

4. WooRank: WooRank is an easy-to-use SEO analytics tool. It quickly presents the keywords that get the highest search volume, tracks search terms by location or language and helps you find keywords based on content that’s already on your website.

Local presence

Consumers use local search to find businesses near them. Use these tools to improve your local presence.

5. Google My Business: Google My Business (GMB) empowers you to manage the information that shows up about your business in Google Search and Maps. Having a GMB listing can increase your chances of showing up in organic search results. After claiming your listing, you can optimize it by adding your business’s address, phone number and hours of operation.

6. Deluxe Business Listing Scan: Find out how your business appears in more than 40 different online directories, including Yelp, Yahoo and Facebook. The Deluxe Business Listing Scan will tell you which directories you’re listed in and which information needs to be added or updated.

Plug-ins and extensions

You can install the following extensions in your Google Chrome browser to gather SEO information.

7. SEO META in 1 Click: Metadata is the SEO information search engines are consuming about your page and displaying in search results. SEO META in 1 Click is an extension that allows you to quickly view page metadata. You’ll be able to see if there are any missing elements that could be affecting your search rankings.

8. Check My Links: Broken links are bad for SEO. Make sure all links on your site are working properly with this tool.

You can’t develop a solid search strategy without the right SEO tools, and these are some of the best free SEO tools out there. Using them will allow you to do the research and analysis that help your business stay competitive in search rankings and get found online.

Get traffic moving your way

Looking to boost your local search results with a better online presence? Watch this free webinar, hosted with SCORE, to learn how small businesses can bring in more customers beyond relying on word-of-mouth alone. Gain insider marketing tips and inspiration, whether you’re in startup mode or have been in business for generations.

In this webinar:

  • See how to rework your website to highlight what makes you unique
  • Get quick fixes to drive more traffic to your Google and Yelp listings
  • Learn how to elevate your Google search rankings for your business
  • Discover email marketing strategies to spur repeat visits and sales
  • Get tips on boosting your brand identity online

About the presenter

Amanda Brinkman, Chief Brand Officer at Deluxe Corp., leads a team of experts who provide marketing services to millions of small businesses across America. Brinkman also produces and stars in the acclaimed Small Business Revolution — Main Street series, in which she and her team provide a $500,000 revitalization to one lucky small town and its Main Street businesses.

Got a small business question?

Request a call from a Small Business Adviser for tips and guidance. The conversation is free — not a sales call.

If your business isn’t showing up in online searches, it’s as good as invisible. Consumers are increasingly using the internet to find and choose businesses: More than 51 percent of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product while conducting a search on their smartphone. And that’s exactly why local listings are so important. A local listing is an online profile that contains your business name, address, phone number and other details people need to find and visit your business.

How does your business show up?

Ensure your business and contact information are correct on over 40 online directories with our free scan tool.

But there’s more to getting listed than just entering your information. You have to claim, optimize and manage your listings. To help you make a great first impression and secure a top spot in the search engine results, Deluxe SEO Specialist Abel Johnson shares these expert tips:

1. Be accurate and consistent

It might not seem like a big deal if your address is listed as “123 Main Street” on one local listing, and as “123 Main St.” on another. However, when your listings are inconsistent, you risk confusing potential customers — and search engines. Here’s a great example of how getting listed accurately helped one business stand out online and reel in a steady stream of local customers:

Bluff City Outdoors was the only business in Alton, Illinois, that carried bait, tackle and specialty catfishing gear that the big-box stores didn’t have. Since Alton is a hotspot for trophy catfishing, Bluff City should’ve been popular with the locals. But when people searched online for bait and tackle shops, it was nowhere to be found. Instead, they’d find variations on a theme, including the store’s previous name — Rodney’s Bait & Tackle. The Deluxe team worked with owner Mark McMurray to update all of his listings with the right name, so people could easily visit the store.

The lesson here: Keep your business name, address, phone number and other important information consistent across the board. This matters down to the smallest detail. Since many of online directories pull data directly from your Google My Business and Facebook listings, you’ll want to make sure that information is accurate and complete.

2. Keep your business hours up to date

Does your business have summer hours or special holiday hours? Remember to update your local listings! People who visit your store only to find it unexpectedly closed may never make the trip again. Likewise, not letting online searchers know you have extended hours during busy seasons prevents them from visiting you during those times.

To keep new customers walking through your door, let them know when you’re open for business. Start by listing your hours on the go-to platforms for people searching for local businesses — Google Maps and Facebook.

3. Get reviewed

Reviews aren’t just a great way to spread the word about your business. Customers’ buying habits are influenced by positive reviews. In addition, Google uses reviews to rank your business, so keep them coming. Don’t be shy about asking customers to review your business, on Google, Yelp and Facebook especially. It will help you gain rankings and establish credibility in your community.

How does your business show up?

Ensure your business and contact information are correct on over 40 online directories with our free scan tool.

For construction and general contracting businesses, the best form of marketing has traditionally been word-of-mouth. When you do good work, clients recommend you to others, and business builds from there. But word-of-mouth can only take you so far. In an increasingly digital world, you need search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) to propel you to the next level. Here’s an overview of how these tools work and how you can use them to generate leads, and ultimately, more business.

The basics of SEO and SEM

SEO and SEM are marketing methods that help your business rise to the top of results when potential customers search for providers online using search engines like Google and Bing. SEO includes the techniques you can use to drive quality traffic to your website. On the other hand, SEM includes paid marketing techniques on search engines. While these SEM methods require an upfront investment, they can be effective at creating and increasing awareness of your business in your local area. What’s more, you can combine SEO and SEM to increase your visibility on the internet and boost your flow of customers. But before you add these tools to your toolbox, here’s what you need to know:

Strategies to boost SEO

The simplest way to utilize SEO involves researching the top keywords that people may use to search online for businesses like yours, and then scattering these words and phrases across your website and business listings. This makes your website and listings more likely to appear when potential customers use them on Google, Bing or other search engines. With that in mind, here are four things you can do right now to boost your SEO efforts:

1. Create a list of keywords and phrases

Put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers, and ask yourself what you would search for when looking for a business like yours online. Remember to be specific and detailed. Come up with 5-10 phrases that you think fit your business best. For example, if you run a construction business, simply using “construction” won’t cut it. Using a more specific phrase such as “custom cabinetry in Aurora, Colorado” is much more likely to make your business visible in search results.

2. Optimize your website’s content

After you come up with your list of keywords and phrases, weave them into the content and business descriptions on your website. For example, if the phrase “best landscaping service in Kansas City” appears on your website a few times, there’s a higher chance your site will appear in search results when potential customers search for that same phrase. Be careful not to overdo it: using unsubstantiated or misleading claims could backfire for your business.

3. Create a blog for your business

A business blog is great because it allows you to constantly place fresh content on your website, which helps keep visitors coming back. Business blogs also create more opportunities for you to use your SEO keywords and phrases. Creating a blog does require a consistent time commitment, however. If visitors to your website see your most recent blog entry was from July 2015, they’ll be less likely to take you seriously. If you launch a blog, commit to publishing something new on it at least once every week.

Need ideas for what to post? Make a list of common questions you get about your services, and start with those topics. Some ideas include:

  • How much does an in-ground swimming pool cost?
  • How much paint will I need to paint my living room?
  • How long does it take to refinish hardwood floors?
  • How often should I get my windows cleaned?
  • How can I protect my home from ice dams?

4. Make sure your online listings are consistent

When consumers are starting their search for a contractor, they typically start with an online directory. Make sure your business is listed accurately and consistently on listings sites like Angie’s List, Yelp and Google. You’ll want to include the name of your business and the relevant contact information such as your address and phone number. Any discrepancies can confuse internet search engines and hurt your chances of appearing in searches.

Is SEM right for your business?

Often referred to as paid search, SEM involves pay-for-play efforts that give your business more visibility on search engines. It’s similar to SEO in that it’s based on a defined set of keywords and phrases. The difference is that you pay for higher placement on search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing.

Paid search uses a pay-per-click (PPC) model, which means you pay a small fee to the search engine each time someone clicks on your ad. While that fee may be a turnoff for some, it’s minimal if that click eventually leads to a sale.

So, is SEM or paid search right for your business? With approximately 74 percent of internet users performing local searches, SEM can be a boon for your business. It’s relatively inexpensive to get started, so it’s certainly worth a try.

Finding the right (pay-per-click) words

If you decide to try paid search, one of the first things you’ll need to do is create a list of pay-per-click keywords to use in your campaign. But which keywords should you choose?

In general, keywords that have high volume, but low competition, will deliver the best returns. There are several online tools you can use to determine how common various keywords are. For example, this free Search Volume tool shows that the keyword “roofing” receives a whopping 27,100 monthly searches on average. Paying for this keyword would probably result in lots of competition. However, the phrase “roofing in Baltimore” only receives an average of 10 searches per month. Being more specific can help connect your business with potential customers who are relevant, and it reduces your cost per click due to lower demand for the keyword.

Similar to SEO strategies, your SEM efforts should include pay-per-click keywords that are specific to your business, the services you offer and the region you’re located in.

Highlight your unique services in SEO and SEM

For contractors and construction businesses, SEO keywords such as “construction,” “roofing,” “landscaping” and “contracting” are very common. That’s not to say you should steer clear of these types of words completely, but just know that there will likely be many other businesses using similar words.

If possible, use those words in conjunction with others to highlight the unique services your business offers. For example, if your business excels in building sheds for storage or recreational use, a keyword such as “shed construction” will be much more effective than simply “construction.”

Inserting a location into your keywords is also useful and can help you target potential customers in a particular town, city or suburb. For example, a roofing company based in Minneapolis that’s looking to generate business in more affluent suburbs may use a keyword such as “roofing services in Wayzata,” with hopes of generating clicks from that specific community.

SEO vs. SEM: Which should you choose?

Now that you understand the basics of SEO and SEM, you can put them to work for your business. But where should you focus your efforts?

SEO is a must for any construction or contracting business. Optimizing your website for important keywords can go a long way toward generating organic traffic to your website, which in turn can boost your bottom line. SEM is a valuable tool for acquiring new customers, should your marketing budget allow it.

In a perfect world, your business would use a combination of these techniques to maximize your results. SEM and SEO both work toward making your website more visible to search engines by using different techniques that work well in tandem and can be a valuable component of your marketing plan.

However you decide to use them, SEO and SEM can help build your business’s presence on search engines and get more customers both to your website and through your door.

Get traffic moving your way