Building Online Visibility: A Three-Point Plan For Any Business

The latest trend in online marketing focuses on local search. While there are plenty of business site directories that act like online telephone directories, local search is more than a telephone directory or classified ad site. It's a community-oriented, user-friendly approach to finding businesses close to home.

Recent studies have shown that an increasing number of consumers are researching local businesses online before heading out to make purchases. As large search providers like Google and Yahoo! build their local search resources, expect consumers to refine their search habits.

My research indicates that in most local areas, more than 70 per cent of all businesses included in local search listings do not have their own Web sites. To compensate, the search services combine information from telephone directories, classified ads, and news articles. As many as 20 or 30 Web results may be offered for a company, but a consumer may not find an informative, official Web site for an interesting business.

So, here is a three-point plan any business should use to capitalize on local search:

One: Control your visibility with your own Web site

Maximize your visibility through local search services with your own Web site. Choose a service that lets you create an attractive but simple, multi-page site quickly and with little hassle.

Your company Web site should consist of at least three pages:

1) An introduction page tells people the name of your company, what your company does (a brief mention of products and/or services), and who your market is (e.g., "Serving vendors around the world since 1971").

2) An "About Us" page tells people who you are, what you do, how long you have been in business, and what qualifies you and your business to be their choice.

3) A "Contact Us" page tells people how to reach you. Include a link to a mapping service so they can find your address easily. Contact information should include telephone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses. Include names for department heads if appropriate.

Although many business operators believe a Web site should be loaded with graphics, music, and animation, usability studies show that users tend to leave Web sites that don't get to the point or provide information clearly and without hype. Just start with a simple Web site.

Two: Take charge of your local search listings

Did you know that you can create your own listings in the local search services? Yahoo! will give you a free 5-page Web site just for listing your company with their service.

http://listings.local.yahoo.com/

Google's service is more like a classified directory, but you still have direct control over how your listing appears:

https://www.google.com/local/add/login

But don't stop with their Web listings. Take charge of the Yahoo! Mobile and Google Mobile services, too. People are increasingly using their cell phones to search the Internet.

http://wap.oa.yahoo.com/

http://www.google.com/sms/howtouse.html#business

Study how these companies advise their visitors to use the services. For example, if you operate a pizza parlor, make it possible for people to find you by searching for "pizza" and your zip code. It should be as simple as that.

Three: Offer Incentives To Other Businesses With Web Sites

Develop a plan that promotes your Web site to your community by offering incentives to other businesses to refer their visitors to your site. Create an attractive discount coupon image that other businesses can offer to their visitors. Build your own coupon page for companies you routinely refer your customers to.

Your goal is not to exchange coupon links with other local businesses. Your goal is to build referral relationships. If you offer shoe repair services, build referral relationships with local shoe stores. If they don't have Web sites, help them learn how to create those Web sites.

Be willing to link to other local businesses on your pages without requiring a link back. Show your visitors that you are a resource. When your customers come see you, talk to them about your Web site and ask them how you can make it a better resource for them.

Michael Martinez has been actively designing and promoting Web sites since 1997. Michael has assisted small and mid-sized businesses in developing their online marketing strategies since 1999. He is the author of innovative research articles and papers, most recently including "On the Googleness of Being" and "Google: Changes in Ranking Strategies", which have influenced the search engine optimization industry's strategies for years.

http://www.michael-martinez.com/

In The News:

Best Ways to Get Free Advertising  Small Business Trends

The Basics Of Free Web Site Promotion

It's easy to forget the fundamental components of Web site... Read More

Getting Inbound Links is as Easy as 1-2-3

Your success on the internet is directly related to how... Read More

Reach Your Web Site Goals By Attracting the Right Visitors (Part 2 of 2)

An important question to answer when creating or revising a... Read More

How to Get Directories to Submit Your Site - With this 5 Steps Guide!

So you have completed that new site and want to... Read More

Generating Inbound Links

Content One of the best ways to encourage website owners... Read More

Top 10 Tips to Make Your Web Site A Hit!

Professionals in tend to under-estimate the power of the web... Read More

Google Pagerank ? Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains Certified Master Point of View

Google is the most popular internet search engine and even... Read More

Personalized Search Versus Personal Choice

Personalized search is a hot topic especially since Yahoo! and... Read More

How To Gain Web Traffic Through 9 Simple Tips

Driving traffic to your website can be a time consuming... Read More

Make Your Web Site Work More So You Can Work Less

Do you know how your web site fits into the... Read More

Search Engine Friendly Ways to Build Link Popularity

Acquiring relevant backlinks to your website is one of the... Read More

Keeping Focused: Marketing Your Site During a Tough Tourist Economy

In the current competitive climate, tourism-dependant businesses in Coastal Maine... Read More

Get Listed at DMOZ

When you are deciding on the major search engine directories... Read More

Methods of Website Promotion

Promoting a Website is not an easy task. New Website... Read More

Website Submission to Open Directory Project - DMOZ

As an authorative hub a link from a DMOZ directory... Read More

Advertising Approach For The First-time Webmaster

For the first time internet entrepreneur [newbie] the best ways... Read More

5 Reasons Why Link Swapping Is Killing Your Website

I created my first website in 1995 - it was... Read More

Link Cheating On The Rise

Website owners and webmasters who are trying to improve their... Read More

Website Promotion: 10 Ingenious Ways To Defeat Your Competition

Business is war.To get to the top, you must fight... Read More

Drive People to Your Site to Buy Your Products

Bring those visitors back for more, applauding you and saying... Read More

Benefits of Website Localization

Benefits of Website Localization Maximising profit today... Read More

How Building a Fanbase will Make You Sales

If you've ever been to a popular forum hosted by... Read More

Web Site Promotion: How To Use The Power Of Perpetual Marketing To Heat Up Your Sales

You may ask, what is perpetual marketing?Perpetual marketing means when... Read More

Three Cost Effective Ways to Get Bumper-to-Bumper Traffic Using Your Vehicle

The following traffic generating ideas do not require costly set-up... Read More

The Power of Testimonials - Unleash the Marketing Prowess of Credibility

Creating a sense of credibility for your product and website... Read More