Answers to key questions on local business listings

I had many opportunities to discuss all things local with my good friend Will Scott, and the other day we were there again. We were talking about some of the most common questions small business owners always ask us when it comes to local online marketing. I wanted to take the time to put them on paper for everyone. I thought this would be a good place to get the answers out there. Here is my interview with Will scott the influence of research.

1. What are the best ways that new internet businesses can increase the number (or gain at all) of citations when it comes to local ads?

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My number 1 recommendation would be that they go to http://getlisted.org.

Get Listed is a very simple tool that checks the major local search engines and tells you if you are there. If you’re not there, you can submit directly from the dashboard.

Once you’ve done that, go submit yourself to the major data providers. There is a shortcut here to access data from these providers with only 3 sources:

  • UniversalBusinessListing.org (submitted to multiple data providers)
  • Localeze.com (submits to multiple data providers and powers many online directories.
  • InfoUSA.com/Landing/UpdateListing.aspx (the only major not represented by the 2 above)

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A downside: it is not immediate. You need to submit at the start of the month, then it may take 45-90 days to see the full cast.

In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with submitting by hand to some of the big ones like MerchantCircle, Yellowpages.com, Superpages, and InsiderPages. Just know that your phone will ring with the follow-up telemarketing. Politely decline and respect the free list.

2. What would you say to those who fear receiving negative reviews?

Negative reviews are inevitable. A lot of companies think they can play ostrich and solve all of their problems.

The problem is, even if the business owner isn’t active online, their customers are. As with many things, the best defense is a good offense. If a business owner works proactively to get positive reviews, it is a great defense when he is left with the inevitable negative.

And, I think everyone understands that you can’t please all customers. No matter how hard a business owner tries, there will always be that one.

Just like in real life, you can’t sweat them all and the most valuable tactic is to provide good customer service so that you don’t have to worry about reputation management.

3. What would you say to those who fear their competition will give them bad reviews?

Forget it see above.

Seriously, you can’t defend yourself from it. Just watch your reviews and other mentions online and if any of them seem suspicious, address it head-on and report it to the service that hosts it.

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There is no point in sharing your agitation with the site where a review is posted. Keep it factual and professional and they’ll be much more likely to take it down.

We’ve seen reviews on Yelp pulled, but it’s not very common. In the case of Yelp, reviews that do not pass the sniff test often face the Yelp review filter.

4. What are some of the best places / resources that someone who has run a business for years offline but never uses online to start?

Wow the list is endless but just for a few:

  • GetListed.org already mentioned above. In addition to the service, there is a blog and links to a lot of interesting resources.
  • OutspokenMedia.com/blog/ Lisa and her cohorts blog almost daily. They take a very user-friendly approach to online marketing. It’s entertaining for the pros and accessible for those just starting out.
  • SmallBusinessSEM.com Matt McGee’s blog. Occasionally inside baseball, but filled with good things written with the business owner in mind.
  • DuctTapeMarketing.com Site of John Jantsch. Very detailed marketing ideas and execution.
  • SmallBizTrends.com Anita Campbell and a stable of writers who follow, report and advise on news and information of interest.
  • SmallBusinessBrief.com SearchEngineGuide.com People’s Forum. The search engine guide is a bit technical for beginners, but there are a lot of helpful people on the forum.
  • Seriously, I recommend our blog: http://www.searchinfluence.com/blog/. It is written by my team for and from the perspective of the small business clients we work with.
  • And, while it’s often a bit inside baseball for beginners too, I think your blog http://dreamsystemsmedia.com/blog/ has a lot to offer as well.

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Mat, thanks for asking for my advice. This is an area where I am quite passionate.



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