Local Business SearchFor small businesses online marketing can be intimidating.  You don’t just need a web site, you need it to appear in search engines results.  But the Internet is a big place, and how is your small business going to compete with national companies with massive budgets for online marketing?

I have good news for you.  Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines are expanding their emphasis on local search results, delivering local business listing over national search results in more and more search results. 

You can take advantage of this by creating free local listing for your business with the major search engines at the following sites: Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local. It doesn’t take much time and it is definitely worth the effort. You should include a link to your web site in the listings of course if you have one.

You also need to know how many people are visiting your site, and see how that changes over time. Are you moving in the right direction? A great free way to do this is Google Analytics.

Finally, and here’s the big one, you should improve your web site to draw local search engine traffic, also called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Of course your site should be quality enough to convince visitors to pick up the phone, however that will have to be the subject of another post.

Search engine optimization firm David MIHM, Inc recently published the results of in-dept survey of SEO experts into what the most important factors are for driving visitors to your web site.

Here are the key takeways from the report:

  1. Get your Google and Yahoo local business listings up and keep them up to date.
  2. Keep your website and directory listings addresses in sync. One address and phone number everywhere.
  3. Enhance your local listing with customer reviews, photos, videos and the right keywords.
  4. Get inbound links. Each one is a vote for your site. Find your local business directories and add your listing. More is better.

The complete report can be found here.
A list of major online business directories can be found here.