More and more people are turning to the Internet to find what they’re looking for. Things may have been easier (as a business) when the options were limited, when you had to choose between how many printed directories to list in, and how big the entries should be. There are an incredible number of options available for businesses now, and things are tougher than ever.
There has been a shift in the marketing methods, it’s not just about having a listing in a relevant category anymore, now you need to look at online directories, search engine submissions and the growing online mapping business listing resources.
In each of the 3 categories, there are some important things that Canadian businesses should consider, so as a follow up to the 10 items I discussed in my last post, here’s a list of places you should consider at least checking to see if your website is listed.
I certainly can’t make any claims as to the effectiveness of these services, but they do appear to be well established and credible. Many of these are free services, some may have fees associated with inclusion. The idea behind these listings is to increase online exposure and create links to your website, which are measured and monitored by the search engines to determine how relevant your website content is compared to your competition. More links in relevant places should have a positive impact on how search engines view your website, but irrelevant and unnecessary links will likewise have a negative impact on your site.
There are a few Canada-specific directories that it makes sense to list your business.
Check out national directories like http://www.canadianbusinessdirectory.ca/ and http://www.scottsinfo.com/. There are others worth a review, many of which offer a free business listing. Thes include http://www.yellowpages.ca/, http://www.goldbook.ca/, and http://www.411.ca/. There are also local directories, like http://bramptonbusinessdirectory.com. Many online directories are used to power other website directories, for instance Yellow Pages listings are used for determining content on both Yahoo Maps and MSN Live Maps. A search for “Canada business directories” or other similar search keywords on Google, MSN or Yahoo will reveal dozens of online directories.
You don’t have to register for them all, but here’s a tip for you:
Look for your business through keywords on Google/Yahoo/MSN. Look at the listings that come up and see if there are directory listings included in those results, visit the directories and put some consideration into registering. You may find industry specific links, provincial directories, general listings and more are ranking higher than your actual website.
Search Engine Registration
The best way to get indexed into a search engine is to have your website found from a link on another site. The search engines are constantly crawling the Internet for new content, so if you’re actively promoting your website online it should get indexed. The more active you are within your online industry specific communities, the more relevant your website content can appear to the search engines.
It’s also possible to tell the search engines about your website. The 3 most important places to check and make sure your website is found are Google, Yahoo and MSN. Each of these companies has a Canadian specific service, and each offers a free submission utility. Here’s a simplified step-by-step list to making sure the search engines are aware of your website. The concept is basically the same for Google, Yahoo or MSN Live.
- Before you consider submitting, make sure your site isn’t currently indexed already! Do a search in each of the 3 search engines for your website URL (your address). In my case, a search for “gbolger.com” or “osgmarketing.com” would show me if there are pages from my site indexed to be found.
- If the pages are there, that’s a success! Google, Yahoo and MSN will continue to index pages on your website ongoing. The more often you update the content, the more often you’ll be indexed. If you’re not updating content regularly, or haven’t in the past, you may have to wait a while between updates.
- If you are not there (and you’re sure you’re not there!), you can use these links to let them know about you.
Google Website Submission
Yahoo Webiste Submission
MSN Live Website Submission
- It’s never an instant indexing, it may take days or weeks to get the site indexed and found. The much, much faster way to get indexed is for the search engines to find your website URL through another site that is regularly indexed. The search engine indexing programs (“Spiders” or “Crawlers”) will follow the link and index the content.
- As an additional note, it is important to know that these services are always subject to change, and there are far more extensive toolkits offered by Google, Yahoo and MSN for webmasters. Basic site submission is a critical compontant of a successful website, but it is only a starting point.
Map Services and Local Search
I’m going to focus this portion mainly on Google Maps, since both MSN and Yahoo listings are related to Yellow Pages listings (which makes your free basic YP ad very important to your business.). Google Maps is a tool that is a critial componant of helping people find your business.
As an example, if you add a geographic location to a search you’re doing on Google, the results page will almost certainly include a small map and list of businesses that Google feels are relevant at the top of the listings. You can control the content of your business listing, and you can help Google to find your business more relevant through that content.
The entire process is fairly simple, and requires that you have a Google Account. This time, I’ll discuss claiming or registering your business with Google Local.
Check out this video Google has provided and see how simple it really is:
- Go to the Google Local website.
- Click on the “Put your business on Google Maps” link on the page. This will take you to the current signup page.
- Sign in with (or create) your Google Account.
- Click on the “Add New Business” Link
- Complete the New Business Listing details in the Local Business Center and click “Next”.
- If Google finds a close match, it will ask you to verify if your business listing exists already. You have two options at this point – “Claim Listing” or “Add Listing”. Choose the relevant option.
- Enter the details of your business into the provided areas. If some information is missing, make a note of what you requre and come back to it later. A completed listing should appear more relevant than an incomplete business listing for businesses in the same geographic area within the same industry or category.
- Once you’ve submited this information, Google will require that you verify the business either through the main telephone number (instant addition to the list) or they will mail you a postcard (1-2 weeks generally for listing completion).
- Once the ownership information is verified, you are free to add and edit the content of your map listing any time.
There isn’t much required to get a listing, but the results can be fantastic. You can be assured that your business information will be found with local searches.
Next time, I’ll discuss some additional webmaster tools that should be considered, and in the coming weeks we’ll begin to cover Search Engine Optimization of your website. The entire key to a successful internet marketing strategy is to ensure that those that are looking for what you do or sell can easily find you when they’re looking.
Until next time,