Honey, I Shrunk the Internet!Do you remember how big your dad was when you were not long out of diapers? That’s the way the Internet seemed yesterday.
We would travel the globe from our desktops and businesses could expand their reach to anyplace that had an Internet connection. When we decided to sell items on eBay we had to make the tough decisions about which countries we would ship to.
Ironically, today most businesses are finding that it’s not as important to reach a book buyer in Brunei as it is to influence the person looking for a manicure on Main Street. The true value of the Internet could be in finding ways to persuade the people located near to you that you have the product or service they need.
Tapping the Resources
When you’ve had to buy an item or find a local service provider, how many times has your search started at your computer? Even more to the point, how many times have you pulled out your trusty smartphone to serve as your guide?
Businesses that leave their local presence in maps, directories, social media and review sites up to random chance might as well be contracting with a cage of chimps for their public relations and advertising. A good way to take advantage of these channels must be part of any business strategy. And optimizing a local search profile is extremely important as Liz Walton explains.
Services designed to help businesses with their local web presence are still in their Internet infancy, and we know that some Internet phenomena can go from infancy to retirement age in a New York minute. However, it looks like Yext.com is making the most concerted effort at fulfilling these critical requirements.
Yext has been busy attending conference and holding office parties that have attracted notables like New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg. But more important than that, it has partnered with Facebook to get its business listings into Facebook’s powerful new search feature. But, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let’s lay down the Yext basics.
Signing on with Yext, businesses get listed in more than 50 sites, maps and apps that focus on local searches. Perhaps even more useful, businesses can instantly update all that information and use it for a wide range of promotional strategies. For example, a business could make specific discounts offered at certain times. They can also create über attractive listings with photos, videos and special event calendars.
We expect Yext to be constantly tweaking its offerings and pricing structure, but right now, for a business that wants to get the most functionality out of the service, the cost will run between fifty and sixty dollars a month. That might seem like a good chunk of cash for a smaller local business, but what Yext does is something every business should be doing anyway. The question then is: Can it be done more cost-effectively in-house?
As a bare minimum, businesses need to get accurate listings on Google maps and all the major local directories and review sites, such as Citysearch, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, YP, and others. For service providers, a listing on Angie’s List is certainly a good idea.
For small business owners who have been battling with their websites, this might seem like just another headache. However, it is certain that one of more competitors will be doing everything possible to wrestle the local Internet to advantage. Staying out of the game is probably not an option.
Remember, former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” It looks increasingly like that is also true for the value of the Internet to small businesses.
“microscope_head.jpg,” © 2006 Matthew Hine used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
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