Local Bricks and Mortar Business Listings – some tips on attracting customers online

Hubspot usually provides decent resources and listed 50 business directories on their blog a couple years ago. Some on the list are not useful anymore, but some are still essential. A friend of mine recent opened a store that sells vintage clothing. She doesn’t have the resources to get a website up just yet, so she set up a facebook page – it also makes sense to list the business in a few online directories.

Recommended directories to include a business in are:

  • Google Places – Once info is submitted, you have to verify your listing with a PIN supplied by Google. There are usually two choices: get the PIN mailed to you (2-3 weeks) or by phone. Sometimes if the phone is answered by multiple people, the automated call may be dismissed by whoever answers it, its easier (although slower) to go with the snail mail. Once the PIN shows, your listing will start appearing in search. The more content you put on (photos, video, store hours, parking availability etc, the better the listing will work for you to attract customers) HINT: encourage your customers to write a review on your behalf.
  • Yelp! – Yelp is a good site for a listing – make sure your fans write great reviews on here – doesn’t hurt to strive to get on The Best of Yelp. If there is already a listing for your business, you can claim it with Yelp, by requesting a PIN (similar to Google Places)
  • BlogTO – This is a good site to be mentioned in with a solid reader base. Getting on one of their Top 10 lists is something to work towards. The site is put out by Freshdaily – they operate sites for Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.

Getting your storefront listed in these sites and getting positive reviews and recommendations from customers is a great way for people to find you over a competitor, and makes it easier for customers to get vital info fast.

In terms of optimization, you can’t go wrong with the sites listed above, but what about social media?  Although having a presence on social media doesn’t really help with SEO, since most links posted on SM sites are no-follow links, many people treat social media listings as the holy grail on whether to check out a store or not. Having positive recommendations on these types of listings are vital.

  • LinkedIn – Setting up a company page is recommended – LinkedIn just revamped company pages by allowing businesses to put a graphic on the intro and products page, allows recommendations, more info – LinkedIn is trying to step up the game and not just for recruiters anymore.
  • Foursquare – I am personally not a big fan of Foursquare, but it is still a pretty active network and worth having a presence there.
  • Facebook – Facebook page is vital, if all of this seems overwhelming, just do light maintenance. Set up the page, invite friends, encourage recommendations, post TONS of pictures, video, post 2-3 times a week – ask your likers questions to get interaction going, always post including a photo, it is more apt to be noticed.
  • Pinterest – Yes please. Create boards relating to what you do and pin away. Upload as much content as you can muster.
  • Instagram – Create an account for your biz and upload pictures relating to your store, service, etc – try posting at least once a week and make sure your information on your profile is completely filled out.
 This may seem like a ton of work, but it will pay off over time. Once the social media listings are set up, I would recommend at bare minimum – spending 15min a week updating the SM sites. Post at least once a week – a little more would be better, but life is busy.

Want to know why I left out Twitter? Just ask.

7 replies
  1. Justin Tung says:

    Hi Liz, cool list! I’m definately going to use it in my next digital commuications plan with a sports club with a presence on Lakeshore.

    So how come no Twitter?

    My guess is Twitter isn’t as relevant to a brick and mortar audience since:
    – not as good as the other sites you listed for people searching for your business geographically or for your products
    – commenting/rating of your business isn’t visible in Twitter posts
    – Using your personal Twitter (if you have one) makes more sense for promotions until you have a strong brand.

    Side note about “mobile” brick and mortars: There was an usage of Twitter by mobile hot trucks letting their followers know where they’ll be serving that day (e.g. @Redhotfoodtruck, @thewientruck) which made sense due to the mobility of their business and audience.

    • lizoke says:

      Hey Justin,
      That is a great mention about Twitter and food trucks.

      When I was writing this, I was thinking in the mindset of a local business without a website…. and was thinking more about what a sole proprietor could do with minimal effort.

      But you are absolutely right about Twitter – if you have enough content to tweet and build up an organic following, its a good choice. I was thinking more along the lines of someone trying to find out about your business… fast.

      In terms of SEO, a lot of the social media sites have no follow links (Twitter and LinkedIn sometimes have follow links, but not very much). No follow means that if a bot comes across the link that has been posted in say, facebook, it will not crawl it, making it a dead end…. and will not come up on search engine results. Linking in SM is good for channeling traffic to a website, Pinterest is very good at that.

      • Justin Tung says:

        Hi Liz, regarding Pinterest what do think about the audience on it and type of traffic it channels to websites.

        My impression is it is mainly women which is good for most brands and retail anyways. I understand you’d need nice visuals as well for Pinterest content/

        • lizoke says:

          I’ve been observing Pinterest for a while and it traditionally has been “Facebook for girls” but it is steadily becoming popular for guys too. I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of it because at the moment it promotes consumerism a bit too much – but I think it may be changing – I would like to see it more of an information gathering tool and a forum for sharing ideas.

          From what I see, it could have some value for small specialty shops (especially if they have an e-commerce component on their website) and some bigger consumer brands. Pinterest drives a high volume of traffic back to websites. If a brand is smart, they could link this targeted traffic to a great landing page that is filled with strong content relating to the pin. (video, polls, short lead form). It could actually turn into strong conversions in the end.

          I see potential for government and non-profits to also spread awareness also. As long as the message is simple, action-oriented and leads people in a seamless user experience. It could be huge.

          • Justin Tung says:

            Thanks Liz for your insight. Especially about the brand reacting to the targeted traffic with a landing page.

            Could be cool if the website reacted itself! Definately technically possible.

            Reacting based on a Pinterest referral could be interesting from the consumerism perspective you mentioned or just generating conversation (e.g. “we noticed you came from Pinterest, what’s your favourite…, did you know… “)

          • lizoke says:

            Automation for social media interaction is definitely something to work towards. Having a unique landing page for each SM channel posting would be a great way to start this. Giving the ability to a community manager to easily setup a unique landing page for this would definitely increase engagement.

            Keeping track and measuring each landing page (or even multiple to see which landing page is most successful) for conversions would be great.

            This kind of user experience is ideal. Having the right content mix (video, copy, form, call to action) is something I am interested in developing for businesses.

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