Thinking of a few of the most popular small business sites from the top of my head: Angie’s List, BBB, Manta, Yelp. And some of the most popular social media platforms: Linkedin, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’ll realize that apparent distinguishing factor between the two categories. The latter are targeted to businesses for review and ratings as well as validating credibility. Letting customers know that you exist is a lot more important for a small business trying to get their feet in the door. If you’re involved, potential customers at least know that you are present online with current and accurate information on how they can get involved. Most times, these prospective customers become interested through word of mouth or a simple walk-by – look online – and find nothing. Already a bad experience with your business without even visiting.
Bottom-line: if social media isn’t your thing – at least make it a goal to ‘add your business’ to as many small business sites as possible – search results will soon become a good friend. Below are some of my favorite small business sites and why:
If your business hasn’t already been added to Yelp’s directory, then you might want to jump on the bandwagon. Yelp is a customer-review site where people from all over the world rate and evaluate their experiences based on performance, quality of customer service, price and so much more. If you’re doing something right, a Yelper might just review your business and boost your online social cred.
You’d be surprised at the amount of influence this will have on your business for sales, participation, and curiosity. Yelp is built on the model of consumer & community above anything, so make use of the paid advertising opportunities which will surely have you involved if you see Yelp as a driving force for your business. Plus, don’t let the negative reviews get you down – businesses are given the opportunity to respond to reviews whether positive or negative.
With the sturdy backing of a popular search engine, Google Places collects about a million reviews a month. Places allows for easy integration into the Google search results and map service as it is one of their own. Your reviews and business information will appear whenever someone searches for you. You can claim or add your business and then customize it whichever way you seem fit – you can merge Google Places into your Adwords campaign using the additional extensions/tools offered there. And like Yelp, you can respond to reviews whether positive or negative.
Growing as an online community promoting and connecting small businesses – providing them with networking information and visibility. But to simply put it, Manta is a business directory – somewhat like the online Yellowpage (just like the rest). Signing up consists of a few fields about your business, and you should be ready to go.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Adding accreditation to your business makes it easier for distance customers to confirm that you are what you say you are without having to go through a list of unnecessary steps. The steps to signing up are a bit more comprehensive, but BBB is all about building trust – similar to a verified Twitter account. Your customers will have a piece of mind, and if all is good, a review (by a happy customer) might just be submitted in order to build your repute.
You might have seen their latest commercial on TV for the new Snap Fix app? An app built around Angie’s mission in bringing users the best local businesses by way of crowd-sourced reviews. Businesses with a minimum of B+ ratings are given the opportunity to advertise and anonymous, spammish reviews are not allowed – huge bonus. Since its free and requires minimum work, I’d take the plunge – you never know where a potential customer may find you.
And a few more noteworthy sites: Merchantcircle, ZoomInfo, Yahoo Local, CitySearch + InsiderPages, Business.com, and TripAdvisor.
Is your business on any of these sites? Is there a online business directory that draws tons of traffic to your business? Let me know in the comment below!
Follow me on Twitter @isabelleofume for more expectations, thoughts, and expertise.