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Claiming every profile or business listing online can be such a hassle. Who has time to sign up for all those sites? Do you really have to plant your flag all over the Web, even if your small business has its own physical location anyway (complete with a nice neon-lit signage)? Why go through all the steps to claim your listing or profile on Yelp for Business, Google My Business, Yahoo! Local, Insider Pages, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, CitySearch, and all those other directories?
If you’re not quite convinced that you should claim your online business listings and social media profiles, please read on. We hope that the reasons below are compelling enough, and can inspire you to establish your presence in various business listings, social networks, and review sites on the Internet.
Why You Should Claim Your Online Business Listings and Social Media Profiles
You can be found more easily. A nice neon-lit signage isn’t enough. Neither is a high-profile location. Sure, your business may be in the middle of, say, Times Square, but customers won’t find you unless you let yourself be found.
Today, approximately 97 percent of consumers search for local businesses online. By optimizing your website, marketing your brand, and claiming your listings and social media profiles, you’re positioning yourself in a way that makes your business and brand more visible – not just physically, but online, too.
Prevent brand identity theft. There are lots of freaks on the Internet. And they can pose dangers that may hurt your brand and reputation. Brand identity theft or brand hacking, for example, can take all administrative control out of your hands – and into that of your imposters or ill-intentioned competitors. To minimize the risk of someone misrepresenting you – and to maximize the word-of-mouth power of the Web – take a proactive approach and claim your business listings and profiles as soon as you can.
By claiming, you can also edit and update your business information. You can add contact details, post nice pictures of your products and services, embed your awesome corporate video, add links to your website or company blog, and even indicate your exact location on a map.
Reach out to mobile device users. In the age of smartphones and mobile apps, you must be able to find a way to expand your reach and connect with all potential customers who own and use mobile devices. Who knows? A good online review is all it may take to change the mind of a person who is reluctant to walk in through your door. But that review won’t exist if you haven’t claimed your online listing or profile.
Track and monitor online reviews. Like we said, reviews can change your potential customers’ purchase decisions. But how will you know what exactly is happening when your fingers are not on the pulse of your business’ most relevant review sites? By claiming your listings and profiles, you can listen in on the conversation about you, track your online reviews, and respond to whatever your customers are saying (good or bad).
It’s free. Most, if not all, of the review sites you should know about are free to use. All you have to do is sign up and create your profile. (Be sure to check our how-to guide on signing up for various review sites.) It may take time, sure, but if you can gain a significant competitive advantage on the Web without spending a single cent, why not go for it?