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Wyoming Business Tips for Feb. 6-12


January 31, 2011 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Elizabeth Parks, Wyoming Entrepreneur Market Research Center researcher

"I have heard a lot about local search and online directories.  What is that and how can it help my business?" Luci, Evanston

Local search can be extremely helpful in building a small business and can be defined as local people looking for local businesses.

Increase the chances of being found by local customers by getting listed in online phone directories because they are looking in directories, usually ready to buy. Online directories also seem to pop up at the top of Google results pages.

A basic local search listing is free. It is good practice to monitor these sites on occasion to make sure that your business information (name, address, zip code, phone, etc) is correct. Sometimes, online directories grab data from other sources, which is not always accurate.

Some of these directories will ask for keywords. These are the words that people will type into the box to find the business -- choose them carefully. Do not forget to list surrounding cities that you consider being your customer area as keywords. For example, if you have a business in Glenrock, make sure your keywords include Casper and Douglas. If you do business in multiple states, include those states as well.

Do a little experimenting to see if your customers can find you online. For example, if you have a restaurant in Lander and you type "restaurant Lander, Wyo.", where do you come up on search engine results pages?

Search engine business directories also are a good way to build visibility. Get listed on Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Local Listing Center. Basic listings on these directories are free.

When thinking about online reach, do not forget to join the local Chamber of Commerce. Membership includes being listed on the business directory, which should have live links to business websites. Check local online newspapers for a business directory. Local events often have websites. Become a sponsor and get your name listed on these websites. And finally, local hotels and restaurants often have websites that can link to your business.

Expand your local online presence where you can.  Being listed on websites that get good traffic volume will in turn help your visibility in the long run.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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