I have had many opportunities to chat all things local with my good friend Will Scott, and just the other day we were at it again. We were talking about some of the most common questions we are always asked by small business owners in regards to local marketing online. I wanted to take the time and put them down on paper for everyone. I felt this would be a good venue to get the answers out there. Here goes my interview with Will Scott of Search Influence.
1. What are the best ways that new to Internet businesses can go about increasing the number (or gaining any at all) citations when it comes to local listings?
My number 1 recommendation would be that they make their way over to http://getlisted.org.
Get Listed is a really simple tool that checks the major local search engines and tells you if you’re there. If you’re not there you can go submit yourself right from the dashboard.
Once you’ve done that, go submit yourself to the major data providers. There’s a shortcut here you can get into those providers data with just 3 sources:
- UniversalBusinessListing.org (submits to multiple data providers)
- Localeze.com (submits to multiple data providers and powers many online directories.
- InfoUSA.com/Landing/UpdateListing.aspx (the only major not represented by the 2 above)
One caveat: it’s not immediate. You must submit early in the month and then it may take 45 90 days to see full distribution.
In the meantime there’s nothing wrong with hand submitting to some of the biggies like MerchantCircle, Yellowpages.com, Superpages and InsiderPages. Just be advised, your phone will ring with follow-up telemarketing. Politely decline and stick with the free listing.
2. What would you say to those who worry about receiving negative reviews?
Negative reviews are bound to happen. Lots of businesses think they can play Ostrich and solve all their problems.
The issue is that even if the business owner isn’t active online their customers are. As with many things the best defense is a good offense. If a business owner is proactively working to get positive reviews it’s a great defense when they find themselves with the inevitable negative.
And, I think everyone understands that we can’t please all customers. No matter how hard a business owner tries there will always be that one.
Just like in real life, you can’t sweat them all and the most valuable tactic is to offer good customer service so you don’t have to worry about reputation management.
3. What would you say to those who are worried their competitiors are giving them bad reviews?
Forget about it see above.
Seriously though, you can’t defend against it. Just monitor your reviews and other online mentions and if one crops up which looks suspect, address it head on and report it to whichever service is hosting it.
It does no good to share your agitation with the site where a review is posted. Keep it factual and professional and they’ll be much more likely to take it down.
We have seen Yelp reviews pulled, but it’s not very common. In the case of Yelp, reviews which don’t pass the sniff-test often face the Yelp Review Filter.
4. What are some of the best places/resources someone who has ran a business for years offline, but never online use to get started?
Wow, the list is endless but just for a few:
- GetListed.org already mentioned above. In addition to the service, there’s a blog and links to lots of great resources.
- OutspokenMedia.com/blog/ Lisa and her cohorts blog almost daily. They take a very user-friendly approach to online marketing. It’s entertaining for pros and approachable for those just getting started.
- SmallBusinessSEM.com Matt McGee’s blog. Occasionally insidebaseball but filled with great stuff written with the business owner in mind.
- DuctTapeMarketing.com John Jantsch’s site. Very nitty gritty marketing ideas and execution.
- SmallBizTrends.com Anita Campbell and a stable of writers tracking, reporting and advising on news and info of interest.
- SmallBusinessBrief.com Forum from the folks at SearchEngineGuide.com. Search Engine Guide is a little technical for newbies, but there are a lot of helpful people in the forum.
- In all seriousness I recommend our blog: http://www.searchinfluence.com/blog/. It’s written by my team for and from the perspective of the small business clients with whom we work.
- And, though it’s often a little insidebaseball for newbies too, I think your blog http://dreamsystemsmedia.com/blog/ has a lot to offer as well.
Mat, thanks for asking for my opinions. This is an area where I’m pretty passionate.