You’ve put your heart and soul into launching your small business. Now you need to help customers find you. In addition to investing in sales and marketing efforts, you can get your business in front of your prospects via a variety of online sources, many of which offer free basic listings. Here are nine essential places to start:
1. Google My Business
Your business needs to show up in Google when consumers do a local search. You can create a free business listing with Google My Business, Google’s official business listing process. Your business listing provides key information about your company, including hours of operation, and will allow it to show up in Google Maps. You also can add photos, printable coupons and much more.
Register it online here or call 1-844-491-9665. (Note that creating a business listing is different than building a website and trying to get it found in search results for specific search terms you may want to target like “Minneapolis hair salons” or “San Jose manufacturers.”)
Don’t overlook the popular search engine Bing; you can list your business for free on Bing. Check first to see if Bing already lists your business, and then complete your profile and verify your listing. You’ll find complete instructions here.
Your business doesn’t have to have a Facebook Page, but with more than 2 billion active daily users, you may be missing out if you don’t have one. When you create your Facebook business Page, you will be able to include your business location and hours, add photos and events, and interact with individuals who comment on your page. (It’s also a great way to separate your personal activity on this popular platform from that of your business.) You can create a business page on Facebook for free here.
Create a presence for your business with a LinkedIn Company Page which allows you to publish information about your company, and industry news and articles. It can also help with job recruitment and business development. You’ll need a verified email address to get started. Create your free page here.
A popular site for those planning vacations or looking for something fun to do, TripAdvisor has more than 60 million consumers searching its site each month. While it’s perhaps best known for listing hotels and restaurants, many other businesses appear under the attractions category, including classes, outdoor activities, venues for indoor activities, and more. Read the site’s guidelines to see if your business qualifies, and if it does, list your business on TripAdvisor here.
Millions of mobile visitors each month turn to Yelp on their mobile devices to find restaurants, local services, and more; these seekers often turn into customers. Your business may already have a Yelp listing, but you’ll want to verify yours so you can interact with customers and more. You can claim your free business listing here.
Manta’s small business directory gets more than 15 million page views per month from customers looking for local businesses. Your free Manta company profile will allow you to add photos to your business listing and improve the appearance of your Manta profile, boost search engine rankings with consistent business listings and links from your Manta profile to your business website, and provide you with statistics on how many customers are visiting your Manta profile.
Dun & Bradstreet is a business credit bureau. To establish a business credit file with D&B, request a free D-U-N-S number, the identifying number for your business in D&B’s database. Note: Getting a DUNS number won’t automatically establish a business credit rating, though. To build business credit you’ll need to also open accounts with lenders or vendors that report to D&B. Still, this is a good first step.
Will customers need directions to your business? Make sure your business location is correctly listed in MapQuest to reach customers that use the site. You can get a free basic business listing, but to add additional information like photos or hours of operation, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium package through partner Yext. Instructions for both options can be found here.
And there’s more …
There are additional sites that could be useful for your business to appear on, depending on the type of business you own—for example, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, Nextdoor, ConsumerAffairs.com, the Better Business Bureau, and others. Just make sure you focus on those most relevant to your business. It’s easy to waste time and money on efforts that don’t produce results.
Stay in touch
Note that once you’ve established your listings on these sites, you’ll want to monitor them regularly for corrections, comments and complaints. Many consumers make purchasing decisions based on online reviews, so don’t let negative reviews or comments go unanswered.