Some people may still like the paper fan-folding maps and coil-bound atlases, but many people traveling through the Robson Valley are more likely carrying their cell phones and GPS systems. And if your business is not on the map program they are using, you are probably losing business.
The good news is you can get your business listed in most online directories – and the associated maps – for free. And according to Fred Ostovar, from Nova Advertising, “The most important factor when it comes to online business listings is that business owners simply setup or claim their listings.”
Ostovar’s Guide to Online Business Directories explains five great reasons why you should create or claim your online business directory. Some of them are a little bit technical, like “Search Engine Authority” and “Reputation Management” but it basically boils down to free advertising and exposure. If you think it doesn’t matter, look at one recent online comment about Valemount:
“This drives me nuts. I have to call/email (someone local) to find out simple information like ‘is there a coffee shop with internet service in Valemount?’ According to Google, the answer is ‘Yes, at Mount Robson.’ …so I guess I’ll continue driving to Mount Robson and not spend any money in Valemount.”
That online commenter goes on to offer some simple advice.
“This can be fixed in a matter of minutes…for free. Go to www.google.com/local/add. Every single business in Valemount should be added…with details such as hours and services…so that people driving the highways with their smart phones have a reason to stop. With all the traffic going by the town, some low hanging fruit for businesses to grab is updating the map that lots of people (more all the time) carry. You can also add the listings to http://www.openstreetmap.org/ for free. You could also map in that new trail that goes around town.”
If you are a business owner, all you have to do is spend a little bit of time online, entering some pretty basic information about your company. If you are not tech savvy, find someone to do it for you, and just make sure you have access to update the information. You might want to set up a free email account specifically for this. Make sure that your business name and contact information is consistent with your website if you have one, and across all your online business listings. You can go to Ostovar’s article (http://www.novaadvertising.com/search-engine-marketing/the-guide-to-online-business-directories/) for instructions on how to set up listing on some of the most popular sites like Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yelp, Angie’s List and Foursquare.
Jen Robinson, Marketing Coordinator for Tourism Valemount says she’s been approached by various tourism related sites who want to add local businesses to their directories and apps, but it is time consuming for one person, and businesses should be able to update their own listings. If for example you change your hours, or offer a new service or product, you should be able to update that information on your listings, because wrong information can be as damaging as no information.
It may seem daunting, because there are certainly a lot of websites, maps and apps out there. A good way to start might be to search for your business name online, and see what comes up for listings and maps. If you can’t find it, no one else can, and that means you are losing business.
By: Korie Marshall