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Online Visibility For Your Website-less Small Business

Jul 24, 2008
There are a myriad of ways for small, local businesses to gain greater visibility on the web. More and more potential customers turn to the web each day to find businesses and services, and the number of options available to small business owners is also growing rapidly. For the web-savvy business owner, the path to greater online sales is complicated, but manageable-- it just takes a lot of time to keep up. But what about the millions of business owners that, say, do not even have a website? For this group, there are still many (free) options to help connect with online customers. This article highlights a few of the best options available.

If your business does not have a website, many of the standard tips and techniques do not apply. However, there are a number of websites out there that can still help you dramatically increase your web visibility. The following list describes some of the ones that I recommend. (Note: they are all free, and none of these require that you have a website.)

1. Google Maps. Everyone knows that Google is the #1 place where people begin their web research. Google Maps is Google's "yellow pages" and any business can submit, or enhance, their listing for free. The benefit of doing so is that Google often places Maps business listings at the top of its search results. When someone searches Google for a product of service of your business, you will be right there at the top.

2. Yahoo Local. This site is Yahoo's equivalent to Google Maps. It gets less traffic, but gives visibility within the #2 search engine which makes it very worthwhile.

3. Manta.com. Manta contains millions of profiles of U.S. businesses, large and small. Business owners can add their own profile information for free. Simply find your business in the directory follow the instructions. Manta differentiates itself by having much more of a business-to-business flavor than the typical yellow pages.

4. Merchant Circle. This is one of many national sites that allows businesses to both add their company to the directory, and modify their listing if already in the directory. Recently, Merchant Circle business profiles have been appearing more frequently in web search results, so it makes sense to be sure yours is in the mix.

5. Local directories. There are many custom, local directories out there that can also help get your business more visibile on the web. For example, if you are a business in Newark, Ohio, there is a website called www.NewarkOhioOnline.com that has a complete Newark business directory. Business owners in the Newark, Ohio area can add contact information, photos, brochures, logos and much more to their listing on the site. Not every town and city has one of these directory sites, but many do. Check out whether your town has one.

6. Facebook & MySpace. These "social networking" sites have become extraordinarily popular with businesses both due to their popularity, but also because of the great tools they provide for business owners. There are a growing number of businesses that use their highly-customizable Facebook page as their actual website.

7. Superpages. The last time I checked, business owners could add their own profile to this site for free. It isn't much, but surprisingly it tends to drive some pretty decent traffic and online contacts. This is definitely the last of the group, but worth doing nonetheless.

This is probably enough to get started. There are almost limitless ways for the motivated small business owner to grab more web visibility, and many of these options do not even require a website. If you take advantage of these seven, you can almost certainly expect to start hearing from new online customers as they find you through these websites. It should not take too long either; I'd expect you could finish these in one solid evening's work.
About the Author
Newark Prebleford is the editor-in-chief of Newark Ohio Online, a community resource website for Newark, Ohio business owners, residents and visitors. His helpful and informative articles provide tips and techniques for small businesses using the web to its fullest potential in central Ohio.
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