Even if your business is done completely online, you may benefit from getting listed in Google Local or Yahoo's local listings. People often feel more comfortable doing business with someone who is local; and potential customers may stumble across your business while searching for other things. Submission to Local Search at both Google and Yahoo are free, and may bring you more business than you expect.
Here are the URLs for the signup forms below, but before you get started you should have the following information ready at hand:
1. The first thing they will ask for is the physical location of your business. If your business is in your home, that is no problem, just use your home address. You shouldn't, however, use a post office box, as Google doesn't accept them.
2. The telephone number(s) of your business - If you use your home phone number for your business, be sure you have an appropriate answering machine message, and that your phone is answered in a professional manner.
It is best to get a separate telephone number for your business, even if it and your budget are very small. Check with your phone company and the VOIP companies, you may be pleasantly surprised at how cheaply you can get a second number. Many people use VOIP for their business, and pay just $25 per month for unlimited local and long distance through their broadband internet connection. If you have a fax number, have that ready also.
3. A business email address - Use an email account at your business domain. If you don't have a website for your business, buy a domain for your site from a registrar such as registerfly.com who gives website space with a domain purchase, or at least put up a "one page business card" website on the free space Yahoo offers to local listers. In any event, don't use an America Online address or a "freebie" email service such as Hotmail or Yahoo for your business. This is considered very unprofessional.
4. Your business website address - Get a site if you honestly mean to have an internet business. Yes, a website is not strictly required in order to earn online, but to anyone with online business experience you will appear as a rank amateur without one.
5. A description of the services or products you sell. This should be a short 1 to 3 sentence summary such as:
"Your Business Name provides widgets to all widget users, with special emphasis on blue widgets for widgeteers. We also offer widget payment plans."
Don't make it a blatant advertisement, just an explanation of services.
6. Categories your business falls under - You'll be able to choose up to 5 categories for your listing.
7. What types of payment can you accept? (Cash, credit card types, etcetera)
8. Your business operating hours and days at your location.
9. Contact Name - likely yours.
Google users will need to setup an Account. Fear not...if you have Gmail, Google Sitemaps or any other Google service requiring an email address you are already registered.
When you have your information ready, go to http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter.
Sign into your Google account and follow the onscreen instructions. Once you have finished, Google will telephone or send you a postcard (your choice) with a confirmation number. When you receive the pin number in the mail or by phone, you will then need to go back to your account and enter that pin number before your entry can be activated.
After that, just wait for the phone calls from new customers.
For Yahoo, the information needed is nearly the same, and they will give you a free 5-page website for your business to boot!
Sign up at Yahoo here: http://listings.local.yahoo.com/
Get going and boost your business into areas you might not have thought of trying.
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