If you own a local business, you may not think the internet will help you. After all, it is called the world wide web. This may suggest that it is only for large companies with outlets in many cities. While the web is great for big business, it is also a huge boon for local stores and services. In fact, it may actually be easier and cheaper to target a local market than a large national or international market.
Many local directories will allow you to submit a free listing. They may charge for upgrades to that listing, but you can probably start out by looking for free services.
One major example of this, that is very effective, is Yahoo! Local. Basic listings are free, and they are very popular. I know that I, myself, have used that guide when I wanted to find a local restaurant, doctor, or other service. If you. do not have a listing here, you are probably losing business because your competition will certainly be taking advantage of it.
You can find plenty of other free local directories that are run by large national, or international, companies. But beyond those, you can also look for smaller local directories. These may be run by another business person in your area. Lots of them provide free, or very cheap, listings They may even provide a map feature which gives visitors driving directions to your front door! This is a great way to help people find you.
Beyond purely local directories, you can also look for niche listings. This may not be aimed a specific location, but to a specific kind of business. Since you will be listed, along with others, by your type of business and your location, this is a good way to bring in interested traffic.
Let us say you run a doll hospital. People who collect dolls, or even people who buy and sell dolls, would be interested in knowing that you have this local service. They may need to get items fixed or to buy supplies. If you can provide this help, you would want to connect with these potential customers where they hang out!
If you have an account on one of the large social networking websites, like Facebook, you can also use this to help promote your business. Some of your connections may not even know what you do for a living. But many of your connections are probably local. And who would be better to provide service to them than somebody they already know. So please do not be shy about mentioning your business and website link on your social networking pages or profile.
One last suggestion is to look for forums. These could be related to your own city, or they could be about the type of business you do. You can participate in these forums. Try to gain respect as a valuable member because you can provide suggestions or answer questions.
You have to follow the forum rules, but almost all of them will let you have a link back to your own website. You may be able to have a signature line with your own link. Or if it is in the context of the particular post, you may be allowed to drop that link in your post.
If you do business in the Houston metro area, we would love to invite you to add free Houston Business Listings [http://www.houstonhandshake.com]. You can add a business by category and location. We will provide potential customers with your website link, contact information, and even an integrated map.