You probably already know that making sure your business is discovered by potential consumers is not as simple as being listed in the Yellow Pages and Google anymore. In fact, there are a number of sites and apps that want to be the go-to guide for consumers looking for local businesses. It’s important to make sure you’ve got the right information in the right places to be discovered, and here’s how:
1. Do a Google search
The first thing you need to find out is what happens when you search for your business. So do a search on Google and make sure you can find yourself, because if you can’t do that, there’s no way your potential customers will be able to either. What you’re looking for specifically is the details of how your small business is listed.
Check everything—is absolutely all the info correct? Not only should your business appear at the top of the search listings, but you should also get a special box displaying all of your business details. At a minimum, your business address, hours, website, and phone number should appear. Ideally, a Google Map with your location — as well as some pictures that represent your business — should appear.
If anything looks off or isn’t appearing the way you want it to, go to Google’s Places for Business page immediately to claim and fix your listing.
2. Check your business on social
Google is only one way people find your business. Increasingly, social media sites like Facebook and sites that provide geo-targeted business listings like Yelp and Foursquare are the primary method of discovery for a variety of business types. If you can stand out on any single one of those platforms, that can be a huge advantage over your competition.
While you might not have enough fans or followers to think that a Facebook page for your business is important, it’s a crucial way for people to find you. So you definitely need to set one up. On Yelp and Foursquare, it’s important to make sure, just like you did with Google, that every single detail is correct and that customers can get as much information about your company as possible. Both sites allow you to claim your listing and edit contact info and provide additional details, so be sure to take advantage of that.
3. Check on every device
Don’t just try and check your business listing on Google, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare on your computer, since search results and even app listings are often tailored or displayed in different ways. Try it on other people’s computers as well, Macs as well as PCs, and then try it on every mobile device you can get your hands on. Since every device will display your business listing differently, it’s crucial that you get the full picture, so that you know exactly what areas you need to fix or focus on.
Also check how easy it is for customers to get in touch with you from their mobile devices. Is it easy for customers to call you from every service on which your business is listed? Also, try and think specifically about your industry. For example, if you run a restaurant, you need to look at how many steps it takes customers to find your menu or make a reservation.
4. Deal with reviews
Customers tend to either love or hate their interactions with businesses, and thanks to the pseudo-anonymity the Internet provides, they aren’t shy about sharing their opinions. And there are dozens of places they might leave those reviews! On top of the places we’ve already discussed, you might find reviews on places like Angie’s List, Urban Spoon, Switchboard, Insider Pages, Kudzu, and so many more.
For starters, you need to find out what everyone is saying about your business, so take the time to track down every review you can find online. Then, identify reviews that you think are unfair, biased, or discuss problem areas that have since been addressed. Thankfully, many sites allow verified business owners to respond to criticism, and you should definitely take advantage of this. But don’t just go on a rampage! So many business owners have dug themselves deeper because they brought the wrong mindset to review responses online, and were angry while responding and crafted rude, unacceptable responses. Remember: it’s not just the reviewer who will see your response, it’s everyone who stumbles across that review of your business! So be completely professional and try your best to take criticism as a call to action to fix and grow your business.
Having trouble geo-locating YOUR business? Leave me a comment or question below and I’ll do my best to help you out!
Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show, CNN, HLN and Fuse. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.