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How to use local directories to promote your business

Did you know that 20% of searches on Google contain a local place name and 70% of people looking for a business offline will look it up online first? If you want more customers to find your business, why not list yourself on local business directories?

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Did you know that 20% of searches on Google contain a local place name and 70% of people looking for a business offline will look it up online first? If you want more customers to find your business, why not list yourself on local business directories? Even if you don't want the upkeep or expense of a website, local business pages give you a presence on the web. Getting listed on these, along with Google Places and Yahoo! Local, is a great way of letting search engines that you exist. Plus, they are quick and easy to set up – and they're usually free! Which directories? There are plenty of online directories out there. Some are automatically generated lists that anyone can add their business too, and these can be good for getting more inbound links to your site. But the ones we refer to in this article are moderated by humans and allow a lot more information about your company, they are also community-based websites that mean visitors can rate and review your business. Popular directory sites that offer free advertising for UK businesses include: Yelp Qype Free Index City Local Scoot The Best Of Yell Thomson Local Hot Frog Note: All of these sites offer free listings, though some may follow up with a sales call. You are under no obligation to sign up for paid listings, just tell them you don't have a budget for advertising and you'd like to keep the free one. Get your listing right Claim your profile Anyone can set up a listing for your business on review sites, but only you can claim it and manage it. This allows you to add the correct details, as well as extra information. Contact details Make it easy for prospective customers to contact you by adding all possible contact details (address, phone number, email, website, fax, etc.) Opening times Make sure your opening times are on all listings. If someone is looking you up online for the purpose of using your services ‘offline', this is the information they will be looking for. Reviews All of these sites allow reviews and ratings. Let your customers know which review sites your on and ask them to give you a review. Obviously, you can't tell them what to write (and you aren't allowed to give incentives in exchange for good reviews), but positive feedback can give your business credibility. Read our guide to dealing with positive and negative reviews > Use pictures Many of these websites allow you to add pictures. If you've got some photographs of your products or services in action, include them here to give potential customers an idea of what you can do. If your business can't be summed up in images, include a picture of your premises so that visitors can find it easily. Promote special offers and discounts Some sites allow you to add special offers or discounts through going through them. You can also use them to announce events, sales and important dates. Review other local businesses As well as asking customers to submit reviews, you can review your fellow local businesses. You never know, they may return the favour.

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