Posted on | September 1, 2013
Written by | James Laurenti
According to a 2012 consumer review survey by a leading digital marketing news website, SearchEngineLand.com, about 85% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. Needless to say, potential customers are out there, and we want them to find us. Luckily, within the past few years a number of effective, free online resources have become available to help in this effort. Even without a website for your business, you can still leverage these tools to help local consumers find you online.
When a user wants to find a local business, the common starting point is a search engine, namely Google.com. Years ago if you entered a keyword search into Google, the only results would be website links. However, in the past year, Google has enhanced their search engine to highlight local businesses—regardless if they have a website or not. Just try typing “wine store [your city, state here],” and look at the results. Not only do you see the list of organic search results that we have always come to expect, but you also get a conspicuous box showing different local retailers plus an interactive map that links to a full-screen view of all stores in the context of their location.
This information is populated by a free service called Google Places, a simple tool that allows a business to take control of their digital identity with the search engine. After verifying that you’re the business owner/manager, you can update the store name, address, hours, and include a picture and short description. This information is then displayed whenever a user performs a relevant keyword search.
Another free product from Google worth highlighting is their social media platform, Google+. While Facebook dwarfs Google+ in its user base, Google prefers to list its social media’s business pages higher in organic search results than Facebook, which makes the service particularly valuable. Through Google+’s tools, you can create your own page featuring pictures, videos, and information about your business itself. In the past year, Google has also added a featured called Google+ Local, which allows consumers to rate and review businesses; those reviews are then incorporated into Google.com’s search results. Therefore, though the social media service might not have as many active users, there are some immediate benefits to creating a Google+ Business Page, which should only increase in value as consumer acceptance of the service grows.
Google Places and Google+ Business Pages are two effective free resources that can help increase your store’s digital profile. However, there are others that merit some attention—particularly Facebook’s Pages platform and Yelp’s Business Account tools. Ultimately, if there’s no cost of entry, it’s worth having a presence on any service that consumers in your local area may use. Each helps broaden your digital exposure and makes it less difficult for someone to overlook your business. That said, if you are just beginning to review your presence online, Google is a great place to start.
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a website for your store, visit BevSites.com or contact Ian Griffith at 617-864-1677.
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