When establishing your business an online presence is a must, but there are so many places to list your company that it can be confusing to know where to start, not to mention which online listings are worth the time and effort to set up. I have put together a selection of some of the best free listings that can help small business owners get their companies noticed online. The focus here is on quick set up and getting your business to effectively show up in search results. Here is a brief overview of some of the sites I have found to work the best along with links to each:
Google Places for Business
Creating an account here will provide local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your company that will be focused on results across the Google network, including Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Plus. Your listing allows for descriptions of services/products, videos, images, as well as links to your website and social profiles. You can also include regular updates about your business and analyze customer reviews and feedback. With a premium account, you have additional options, including creating promotions and coupons and setting up pay-per-click advertising with Google’s AdWords Express. Link to Google Places for Business
Bing Places for Business
This is Bing’s answer to Google Places and is focused on search results across the Bing/Yahoo network. It is locally focused with most, if not all, of the options detailed for Google Places. It may seem redundant, but having a listing with both will cover the search engines most people use. Link to Bing Places for Business
Here is another local search platform that works much like a phonebook. This can be searched by business category and location (City and State), which works well for keyword optimization. Your free listing includes business information, such as phone number, website, hours of operation, and address, and features a map of your company’s location. You also have the option of allowing customers to leave reviews and rate your company’s services/products. Link to Yellopwages
Create a free local business account with extensive details about your company. This listing can be used by any type of business, but works especially well for restaurants or bars. In addition to the standard contact information (phone, website, address), you can answer more specific questions regarding parking, payment options, and specialties. Reviews are encouraged and individual star ratings are averaged into an overall rating and used for ranking purposes. Link to Yelp
Here you take ownership of an existing profile or create a new listing for your business. In addition to general contact information, you can provide very detailed descriptions of your products/services in showcases, sync and/or update social media accounts, post updates across the Manta network, or join in discussions with other small business owners. If you have ever searched for a business online, you have probably come across a Manta listing for that company towards the top of the search results page. As explained to me by a Manta customer service representative, Manta has an extremely large network listing of domestic businesses and, as a result, is regarded by the top search engines as a reliable source for business information. Whether that is true or not, Manta remains a good source for listing your company details. Link to Manta
LinkedIn Business Page
In addition to creating your professional profile on LinkedIn, you can also create a company page for your business. LinkedIn allows you to customize a company profile page with your logo, detailed service/product descriptions, relevant keywords, and contact information. Similar to your professional profile, you can also provide updates to those following your company page. Having a LinkedIn company page will help make your business more visible to search engines, as well as LinkedIn’s internal search platform. You will be required to create an individual professional profile before establishing a company page in LinkedIn. Link to LinkedIn
In addition to the free online listings, most of these sites have premium subscriptions and/or paid advertising options available. To be clear, the listings discussed here will not take the place of a good website with engaging content, or even be a good substitute for quality SEO, but they will increase your chances of being noticed online.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the language you use in your online listings is important. Search engines may overlook your profiles and negatively impact your search result rankings if your profile descriptions are identical. Try to switch up the language for each listing, even if the content is only slightly different. I would also recommend keeping track of where you have listings, as well as the language used, to make creating new profiles or updating current ones easier.
Finally, to fully establish your online presence you should consider setting up social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for your company. These will, however, require a bit more work on your part to get the most effectiveness from them. While also free, you will need to regularly update these accounts with relevant content to maximize their effectiveness. If done properly, social media can be extremely useful in engaging with current and potential customers, as well as help establish your company brand online. For some basic information on setting up social media accounts for your business, check out this article.
Are there other free online listings that should have been included here? Feel free to make suggestions in the comments section below.
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