When customers want to find a local business, where is the first place you think they look?
If you guessed the yellow pages, think again. Now, instead of thumbing through the phonebook, 85% of consumers consult online business listings instead.
Gainesville businesses are tapping into this opportunity to create online business profiles that can help them boost local calls.
In today’s digital age, there are more than 3.2 billion people who use the Internet. This means companies with an online presence have a greater opportunity than ever before to reach and engage with customers across the world.
By meeting the customers where they are, companies who utilize online business listings increase the likelihood of being located and contacted. This starts the chain of events that ultimately leads to more business, improved client satisfaction, and repeat customers.
So what exactly are online business listings, and how are Gainesville companies leveraging them? Let’s dig in!
A Quick Look at Online Business Listings
Put simply, online business listings are exactly like they sound. They’re virtual profiles with a few key details about your business.
There are lots of places on the web where businesses can list their profiles. A majority of these are location-based and are categorized by geography.
Some of the most well-known sites with a local presence include Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo! and even Facebook.
Though these sites are global names, they have local sub-pages where companies can list their details and get viewed by a more targeted audience.
Now companies can simply hop online and sign up on one (or all) of these sites for promotion and advertising. The things a company must have in order to sign up for an online business listing include:
- A business name
- A business phone number that aligns with your location
- A street address (not a P.O. box)
- A physical presence/storefront (cannot be a solely virtual business)
By saying goodbye to their phonebook, these companies are able to greet new opportunities and connect with prospects and customers quicker and more easily than traditional methods of outreach.
Then, when customers search for, say, “local plumber in Gainesville, FL” on Google, the company’s name will show up on a local business directory map, with links to click for more detailed company information.
While many, such as Google+Local, allow business owners to sign up for free, some online business listings charge a monthly fee for premium services such as social media integration.
So once you’re all set up and running, what happens next? How do online business listings help companies attract new business? A look at how Gainesville is using this service may provide all the answers.
Gainesville Making Gains: Optimizing SEO
In years past, generating more traffic for your company would have meant getting more people through your doors. Today of course, this is still an initiative.
In fact, even though the Internet is king for virtually every shopping need, 85% of consumers still prefer to shop in physical stores.
Yet, before you can get shoppers through the door, you have to make sure they know about you first. This is where online business directories come in.
As local companies in Gainesville build their presence in online business listings, they put their name alongside some of the biggest in the industry, and for good reason.
Google, for example, now averages more than 3.5 billion searches per day. Who wouldn’t want to cash in on that action?
The equation for success is pretty straightforward: The more clicks a company gets over time, the greater its Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or its likelihood of showing up organically on a major search engine’s results page.
This intentional link building is a top SEO strategy and a key way to drive traffic to your website and reach new audiences.
Think about it: When you search for a product or service on Google, if one of the first few you come across fits your bill, are you really going to keep browsing through all of the other options?
Considering that the average person’s attention span has dropped from 12% to 8% — shorter than that of a goldfish — chances are the answer is no.
Companies in Gainesville know the answer too, and as such, are using online business listings to grow both links and traffic. At the same time, they’re also using them to boost their brand credibility and reputation.
Human interaction may be becoming obsolete compared to digital and mobile engagement but the old word-of-mouth adage still rings true: The more people you have singing your praises, the louder the echo will be.
So can a brief profile really tell someone all they need to know about a company before they engage? In this Internet era, you bet.
Building Brand Credibility: Profiles Turn Prospects Into Patrons
Let’s imagine a hypothetical scenario for a moment.
You’re hungry, and you’re in front of two restaurants. They serve similar food, have similar interiors, and hire similar employees.
Yet, there are a few key differences.
The restaurant on the right is drawing a crowd. The customers seem happy to eat there, and they’re smiling and waving at you to join them.
The restaurant on the left sits relatively empty, except for a few stray people who wander in there and look lost. The ones who are inside look unhappy and are shooing you away.
So which one will you pick? It’s a no-brainer, right?
Online business listings work in much the same way. The more links your profile gets, the more your SEO is optimized, and the more people are directed to your site.
To go a step further, many business profiles also include a reviews feature. This way, when someone views your business profile, they can also read unbiased reviews from real customers before they make their final decision.
This is a helpful feature considering 88% of consumers trust online reviews from people they don’t even know just as much as they trust a personal recommendation from someone they do.
So back to the above scenario. Think again about the people waving from within the restaurant on the right. Even without tasting a bite of food, you’re convinced of its deliciousness. The quality is written all over their faces.
And in the case of online business listings, it’s written all over your pages.
Happy customers generate more happy customers and over time, this is how solid company reputations are built. Companies in Gainesville are using this feature to build their credibility and shape their brand image.
Standing Out: Besting the Virtual Competition
In the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), with 75.4 billion connected devices expected to be engaged by 2025, it’s safe to say that digital is here to stay.
It’s also safe to say that, even for companies with no online retail function, having a virtual presence is critical to long-term success. Online business listings enable this opportunity.
Imagine if two brick-and-mortar stores in Gainesville sell the same or similar wares and one is searchable and findable via the Internet and the other is still relying on foot traffic to drive sales. More likely than not, the competition scale will favor the first.
Today, setting up an online business profile is an important way to set yourself apart from the pack and express to your customers that you mean business — and you want theirs.
Saving Cash and Face: Inexpensive, Year-Round Advertising
Another benefit of online business listings is their price point.
Hiring someone to create a custom website for your business can cost upward of $10,000. That’s a substantial chunk of change for any company, especially a small business with a limited budget.
On the other hand, your business profile can serve as your mini website if you don’t have one, or an extension to your existing one if you do. It provides users a quick look-through of what you offer, as well as your top selling and contact points.
As detailed previously, they are typically free, with some requiring minimal-to-moderate monthly charges. However, even for the sites that charge, the total price is still incredibly cost-effective when considered against the alternative.
For local Gainesville companies looking to expand their marketing and advertising activities but unwilling or unable to engage in a costly promotional campaign, this provides the perfect solution.
Not only are they economical, they enable your business listing to reach virtually anyone in the world, attracting new prospects quicker and more effectively than any flyer mailing, print ad, or even e-mail campaign could accomplish.
Wrapping It Up: Next Steps To Get On Board
So what are you waiting for? Gainesville’s example is proof that a stronger, more impactful web presence awaits with online business listings. Creating an online profile takes seconds and is an important first step toward cultivating the type of future your company deserves.
Interested in learning more? Feel free to contact us today or shoot us a comment below.
Then when you’re ready, fill out our free Business Presence Report to see where your company currently rates in online visibility and credibility and steps you can take to improve your score.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but your online business profile can be. So let’s get started!