Claim Your Stake for Free

Your business is being graded online whether you get involved or not. Getting involved costs nothing – unless you don’t.

Leaving Money on the Table

Except for getting customers or informing existing customers, those who provide professional services have little to do with communicating on the Internet. But, wait! Without getting new customers and communicating efficiently with old ones, what else is there?

I would have to say that the one thing that has struck me as an entrepreneur is the number of dollars service technicians tend to leave on the table out of simple lack of awareness of how much the world has changed when it comes to professional services marketing. This seems to be particularly true of second-generation operators who inherited a flow of customers and simply never gave it much thought.

What I am going to share with you costs you absolutely nothing. And, easily 80 percent of service professionals have done nothing to collect this free gift from the Internet. In a nutshell: Register your business on the dozens of websites where prospective customers look for you.

Stake Your Claim

For service professionals who are our clients, we, of course, do this for them as part of our service. But, as I said, it costs you nothing to claim these sites yourself. It takes a little time and effort, but it is a worthwhile investment. For service companies there are about a dozen critical sites and about fifty more sites that will add to your overall visibility, though they have less consumer traffic.

What so few people realize is that being listed BY Google is different than being listed ON Google. Google+, while certainly important, is only one review site. On the other hand, Yelp, CitySearch, RankMyDentist, Healthgrades, Yellowpages and dozens of others are review sites that Google finds and lists in search results.

It is theoretically possible to put the words “{your service} + {any town}” in a Google search and show up in all ten organic positions (this excludes the Map, of course where you can be listed only once). Besides your Google listing, you can be found on many other sites on the first page of Google.

multiple possible listings in google

Right or Wrong, Be Consistent

As you are claiming your position on these sites, it is important to do Google+ first. Be careful about how you establish your name, address and phone number in Google+. Then match precisely what you put in Google on every other site. This means if you show up in Google+ as 123 Main Street, you do NOT list your practice in Yelp as 123 Main St. There is no right or wrong, but always be consistent.

Further, never use a tracking number in any online listing. The very nature of tracking numbers mean that they must be different. Consistency is the name of the game.

One thing to be careful about for those of you who have no physical address (one where someone could come knock on your door) is to read the Google+ listing process carefully. Google likes to only put businesses on its map to which a customer can actually go to for the transaction. You could find yourself banned for violating Google’s Terms of Service if you list your home address – even if it is where you answer the phone for the business.

Hopefully this article has spurred your interest in getting more online exposure for free. If you would like a list of the key review sites at which you should register including those specifically for the professional services trade, simply send an email to support@mpactmagic.com with “Site Claiming List for [insert your profession]” in the subject line and we will send it to you for free.

This article is part of a series dealing with the new relationship between service professionals and their necessary connection to the Internet and online exposure.

Roger McManus
is a principal at Mpact Magic (www.mpactmagic.com), a reputation management company that focuses on the service industries. Roger is the author of Entrepreneurial Insanity (Amazon) directed at small business owners who are stuck as the hub of their business’ wheel.