If yours is a brick-and-mortar business dependent on local traffic, it is vital that you be listed in local directories.
This affects your ability to be found in the broader web search, as directory listings appear routinely on front-page search returns. Also, because many of these directory sites allow consumers to rate, write reviews and make comments about businesses, there is no meaningful way for you to interact with or respond to them unless you claim your listing.
Here is a list of 10 popular local directory sites, along their features, the benefits of using them, and how to get listed.
Yelp is one of the most well-known and popular local directories. Over 84 million people visited Yelp in the third quarter of 2012.
Consumers can use Yelp to find local businesses. They can write reviews and ratings, and upload photos of businesses, as well. Consumers can also follow one another in a manner similar to Twitter or Facebook.
Yelp Business accounts offer a suite of free tools that include the ability to:
- Communicate with customers both privately and publicly;
- Track how many people view business profiles;
- Add photos, a detailed business description, up-to-date information, history, and areas of specialty;
- Recommend other businesses.
To take advantage of these benefits, you must first claim your listing, which you can do by searching for your listing on Yelp.
If the listing already exists but has not been claimed, you will see a button on the page that says "Claim This Listing." Clicking the button starts the process. Yelp has a verification protocol in place to ensure you are the business owner.
If your business is not listed, create a Yelp account (or login to your existing account) to begin.
You will still see both terms in use. This makes setting up a local listing a bit confusing. Google will likely transition away from use of the term "Places" in favor of the term "Local," though no timetable is in place for when that will occur.
Google+ Local affords consumers the opportunity to:
- Get recommendations on businesses based on their circles, past reviews, and location;
- Publish reviews and photos of businesses;
- Read Zagat summaries of user reviews for a business;
- View the local Google+ page for a business to see reviews, photos, and other information;
- Find reviews from other people.
To set up your listing, go to Google+ Local and search for your business. If it exists, look down the right-hand column of the page where you will see a button. When clicked, it takes you to a page to manage the listing.
3. Bing Local
Bing local listings are now powered by Yelp, which makes having a Yelp listing all the more critical.
According to a June 2012 Bing press release, "Yelp will surface content including review snippets, photos, business attributes and more to Bing users in the U.S. This content will be featured prominently on relevant Bing Local pages, presenting information to help consumers do more with businesses near them."
However, if you do not see your business listed, go to the Bing Business Portal to do so.
4. Yahoo! Local
Yahoo's free local listings enable businesses to:
- Display their address, phone number, and website URL;
- Include the business in up to five categories;
- List products, services, brands, and more.
A premium version adds more features, including:
- Business description;
- Photos and a tagline;
- Online coupons.
Setting up a listing is similar to Yelp. Go to Yahoo! Local and search for your business. If you find it, you will see a link to edit your business information. Yahoo! also has a verification process to ensure the information is accurate.
If your business is not listed, go to Yahoo's business listing page to begin the process. You will be required to set up a Yahoo! account if you do not already have one.
Foursquare is a location-based social network that relies on a mobile app, which allows people to "check-in" to your business, write comments, leave tips, and share information on Facebook and Twitter.
As of December 2012, 25 million people worldwide had downloaded the mobile app and 42 percent of those use it regularly, according to Nielsen.
Foursquare gives businesses the ability to edit their information, gain access to analytics about customers, and create special offers to reward new and loyal customers.
Businesses can claim their listing by going to the Foursquare business page.