By Jordan Ruden
One of the best ways for local business to extend their online reach and build awareness is to use local listings sites. These can include Yelp or Angie's list, but now also include Google+ and a growing number of websites specific to a city or region. The trick is to know how to best utilize these sites, which sites to spend time on customizing your message, and if and when to spend any marketing dollars on these sites.
One great resource is getlisted.org. They are a one stop shop for seeing how your business is listed on Google, Bing, and other local search engines. All you need to do is put in your business name and zip code and it finds your company on the web. I advise clients to work with their local search engines to make sure they remove any duplicate listings and get their message and information consistent across all the sites.
Local listing sites are a great way to increase your search engine results because they provide inbound links to your site. I have seen great improvement in traffic and search engine results for my clients resulting from careful addition to these free resources.