Ditch Your Yellow Pages for the Web

By Kelly Meeneghan, Manager, 1&1 Internet, Inc. 


There used to be a time where a phonebook was America's number one source of information. Whether you needed a plumber, an electrician or to find any other business, the hard-copy Yellow Pages were your first stop to find a business. However, now consumers are disregarding phonebooks and relying more on the power of the Internet to find new stores and businesses rather than traditional marketing efforts.


This change in focus is requiring businesses to explore and adopt online marketing methods into their business strategies in order to generate success.


66 Percent Trust Search Engines Most to Find Local Businesses


When searching for new and local businesses, two out of three Americans depend on search engines such as Google or Bing! to provide trustworthy results. As a professional, it is important understand the significance of being included within a search engine's organically generated results pages. Consider if you are a car mechanic and a consumer types into Google, "car mechanics near me." If your business does not appear on the first page or two of the results, your online efforts may be deemed as useless. Consumers do not dig through multiple pages in order to find a company's information. In fact, research analyzed by Chitika Insights found that only 6 percent of consumers click to the second page of results, encouraging the importance of first page inclusion. 


In order to achieve a high placement on result pages, businesses need to increase their website's Search Engine Optimization (SEO). One way which SEO can be achieved is by strategically planting keywords, or relevant terms, into a professional website. These keywords are found by searches engines to indicate if your website is credible and relevant for the website to be placed higher on appropriate results pages. Additionally, fresh and updated content keep search engines interested thus improving your website's SEO to ensure that customers find you more quickly. 


More than Half Visit the Exact URL First 


Some consumers are choosing to go directly to a business's website as an alternative to search engines. Surprisingly, 62 percent were specifically typing a business's URL as means to find more information. Business owners should consider their domain name as their virtual address. The name should be short and concise while communicating the business name specifically. While ".com" domains are most common, your business name may not be available with the popular domain extension. If this is the case, consider other alternative messages including the industry or your most popular product/service. No matter which option you choose, you want to make sure it is clear what your company does and it will be a name that customers will remember.


Social Media is a Popular Research Tool


When taking your business to the next level it is important to pay attention to the trends consumers are currently adopting. A leading and evolving trend that has proven its staying power is social media. As brands such as Facebook and Twitter make their way into everyday language, it is beneficial for businesses to interact with potential customers though these platforms. 1&1's research proved that 37 percent of consumers have used social media to find new businesses to work with. Directing attention to your company's Facebook page establishes both credibility and visibility for potential customers. These sites are checked on a daily basis and normally bookmarked on computers and mobile devices by consumers providing ample opportunities for consumers to see and learn about your business. 


Furthermore, less than half (48 percent) of consumers are using the newspaper to discover new businesses. Social media platforms are taking over how consumers get the latest news, event listings and sales. Most networks are free of charge and include a step by step installation process, ensuring that even the most novices of beginners can benefit.


23 Percent Trust Online Directories over Phonebooks 


When evaluating your online representation, it is important to align your marketing strategy to where consumers are looking. This includes online directories. Nearly a quarter of Americans (23 percent) are trading in their physical phonebook for online directories. These are forums for you to list your businesses where potential customers can see basic information, including business name, URL and contact information.


The Internet is already a great source of information and avenue to answer consumer questions on a regular basis. If they are traveling to a new area, just moved or looking to try something new, a simple search online is the first step to solve consumer's problem. Getting listed on online directories will immediately increase your visibility to potential customers.


Traditional marketing efforts are commonly thought of as the industry standard when a new business is launched. Appearing in local newspapers, radio and local promotion used to be the only option for a new business. However, the heavy reliance on the Internet has changed consumers' behaviors. Only 33 percent of consumers are influenced by local promotions while an even smaller number, 28 percent, are influenced by radio mentions when searching for businesses. Whether you have an existing website for your business or are starting from scratch, it is important to make the most of your business's online visibility. Implementing these online initiatives will help consumers find and become more familiar with your company, increasing your credibility and overall customer traffic.


About the Author: Kelly Meeneghan is a manager for 1&1 Internet, Inc. (www.1and1.com). As a global leader among Web hosts, 1&1 provides businesses with the tools necessary to get online and be successful.