This article is the first in a three part series of “do-it-yourself” internet marketing techniques that will help gain exposure to your business and increase the amount of traffic to your website. As the modern mix of marketing shifts from print to web, business owners know their websites need to be found in order to compete. Studies show that 78% of consumers search the internet before making a purchase offline. This means that 8 out of 10 people are using the internet to search for new products and services.

Step one for internet marketing is to get your business listed in the local directories of search engines. Most major search engines have business directories that are similar to white pages in a phone book. As more people use search engines to find new product and services, local business listings become increasingly important because they provide a direct means of connecting your business to local buyers.

So how do you get your business listed? You first need to identify the top players in online search. Most SEO professionals (including myself) focus on the top three search engines which are Google, Yahoo, and Bing (formerly MSN Live Search). Each of these search engines has local business listings and a means of submitting a new listing.

To make it easy, I have provided direct links for setting up local business listings for Google, Yahoo, and Bing. All you have to do is follow the links and fill out the forms. Each search engine has a method of verifying your business information. Some will send you a postcard in the mail with a confirmation number. Others will have you verify through email or other means.

Google – If you have a Google account, you can sign up for a local listing using your existing a log in and password. Google will send a postcard to verify your address.
https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin?continue=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Flocal%2Fadd%2Fanalytics%3Fstoreid%3D7941842%26hl%3Den-US%26gl%3DUS&service=lbc&hl=en-US&gl=US

MSN Live Search (now Bing) – Formerly MSN Live Search, Bing is the newest of the search engines. Bing will send a letter confirming your address.
https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx

Two other popular online directories are Switchboard.com and Yelp. Switchboard.com was one of the first online phone books and Yelp allows people to write reviews of your business.

Switchboard.com – Online phone book that has been around for a number of years.
http://advertising.superpages.com/spportal/landingpages.do?splash=50&campaignId=swbd_addedit&SRC=switchboard&tsrc=SWBD

Yelp – People can write reviews on businesses.
https://www.yelp.com/login?return_url=%2Fwriteareview%2Fnewbiz%3Fsearch_loc%3DPhiladelphia%2C%2520PA

This video provides a great explanation of business listings along with tips on improving your pages and visibility.