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Online Business Listings: 6 Ways to Get More Customers

As the Internet becomes the new storefront, business listings are often the front door that allows customers to find you and you to find customers. Here are six ways to leverage the power of local business listings, as well as tips for getting better results from them.

1. Why it’s important

You might know that 97 percent of consumers search online for local businesses, so the Internet is the new front door for finding customers who live just down the street. However, you might not know that 50 percent of local searches occur through directories and apps.

If you don’t have a strong presence in the online business directories that potential customers are using, you might well be missing out on a huge chunk of business. And remember: people who are searching on their mobile devices are often ready to buy.

2. Claim your listing

Go to, Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Bing, and Facebook, and search for your business. If your business comes up in their listings, find the link that allows you to claim it as your business, click, and follow the instructions from there.

If your business isn’t listed, find the option that allows you to add a new business to the listings. Get in as many appropriate directories as possible, including the free online business listings offered by YP.

“Beyond those, a business should be in those industry specific directories that are relevant to their niche. For example, car dealers should be on; hotels should be on,” says Mike Blumenthal, an expert in local online search.

3. Missing information

People searching online, especially through their mobile devices, want answers immediately, and they’ll quickly click elsewhere—perhaps to a competitor—if they don’t find what they want about you in seconds. Make sure you aren’t leaving out key information in your listings.

4. Improve your SEO

Online directories are one source of information that are scoured when search engines like Google and Yahoo compile answers. By having more listings and more complete listings, you improve your chances of coming up higher in the results when people search for products and services like yours.

Many directories have required fields and optional ones. It’s often a temptation to let some of the options stay empty since filling everything out can be quite a chore at times. However, a more complete entry has multiple benefits. It will help you land up higher in searches, and it will be more appealing to customers.

“Whatever additional information that the particular directory will accept, add it,” Blumenthal says. “It will help the listing stand out and increase the chance that Google will use the information from that listing.”

5. Categorize yourself correctly

Blumenthal offers a free online tool that can help you choose the correct categories for your Google+ Page and a number of other directories. Businesses should categorize themselves accurately with the idea that it will lead to more business.

“Google and other services look askance at limo services categorizing themselves as airports for example,” he says. “The biggest mistake that most small businesses make is changing their name in each directory to perhaps improve their visibility in that directory. Your name is your brand. And it should be the same every place.”

6. Paint a picture

Many directories allow you to add images and videos, and that can help you stand out. That’s not just a guess either. Mediative, a consulting firm, did an eyeball tracking study in January 2012 of how people on cell phones look at listings.

For the first two local listings, their eyes move from left to right, the same as when they’re reading. By the third listing, their attention had moved almost immediately to the right side of the screen—where the photos were.

That means when people are skimming your many listings, the photo can be the determining factor of which listings they decide to look at more thoroughly.

Don’t get lost online

If you don’t have an online business listing, you’re missing out. A 2011 survey by the Local Search Association found a mixed bag, with search engines and print and online yellow pages at the top of the heap.

While 50 percent of consumers respond to circulars, email promotions, and coupons, and 66 percent use search engines, at least 79 percent utilize yellow pages at least once a year. And it’s a no-brainer: If you work with YP, your basic listing is free and can be completed in just minutes.  
Claim your free YP online business listing now.

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