Little-known fact: free listings are the key to successfully promoting your local business online. The Internet, without question, is the primary method of individuals and businesses alike to research local companies. More and more businesses are reaching these prospects through the use of free local business listings. If your business is not properly participating in online business listings, you are missing out on a serious stream of new, local customers.

Fact: local listings attract desktop and mobile web users.

There are numerous websites that allow businesses to list basic information about their company for free. Here are five of the most popular sites offering free business listings:

1. Google

2. Yahoo!

3. Bing

4. Yelp

5. Citysearch

Free online business listings have long replaced printed phone directories as the preferred means to find local businesses. Free business listings are also typically presented above other information on a search results page, giving them higher visibility and exceptional click-through statistics. If you have a smart phone and conduct an Internet search, you will quickly see that free business listings are dominating your viewing screen over any other ad.

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. Maintaining your local identity is critical. As a local business owner, it is recommended that you maintain direct control over your local business listings. You have spent countless hours and substantial dollars building an identity that the community has come to trust. A few improper items in your business listings can undermine all of your hard work. Here are some points to keep in mind to remain relevant, visible and FREE:

A Published Phone Number:

If the published number is being answered by a 3 party, prospects can become confused and hang up the phone. Also, people who use the local business listings will have questions that are pertinent to that specific location. There is no one who can better answer those questions than someone with direct knowledge of your business operations.

A Published Website Address:

The published website address needs to link to the official website for your company. Your local business may sell products or services backed by a larger brand name, but prospects looking for your local business should only be directed to the official website that showcases your local business. In our increasingly electronic-based world, your customers still place a high value on direct interaction with your local business.

Customer Reviews:

Almost all free business listings allow past customers to post reviews about their experience with your company – both good and bad. If you have direct access to your business listings, you can respond to all reviews, letting future prospects know you care about the customer experience (even if things don’t always go as planned). While a negative review may seem, well, negative, a proactive approach on your part to fixing the problem will not go unnoticed.

Ultimately, the methods of promoting your local business may be changing, but the principles of growing your local business remain the same: staying in direct contact with your prospects and existing customers is a critical component to your company’s evolution.

For more information on local listings and how your company can benefit from an increased online visibility, please visit Spectrum today!