One of the keys to success as a small business owner or solopreneur is sticking to what you do best and not spreading yourself too thin.
Outsourcing and automation are always strategies worth pursuing. One critical task that can be both somewhat automated and outsourced is the creation and management of your local citations. Good local citations—listings in directories and user-review sites—bring customers to your door directly and indirectly through better search engine optimization. Both of these are critical for success in a market where mobile device usage is skyrocketing.
Rather than input, verify and monitor all of your local listings individually, there are a number of services—both free and paid—that can do much of the grunt work for you. These services help you create, verify, and manage your business listings on sites such as Yahoo! Local, Google, Bing, Apple Maps, Yelp, Facebook, Citysearch, White Pages, mobile apps, and navigation data providers.
Here's a rundown on the most often used services:
MyBusinessListingManager: Best Value - This is a service of Acxiom, which is a major provider of data. Creating or editing your business information here will get it sent to more than 80 companies in the Internet Yellow Page world and local search marketplace, as well as to the major search engines. It will also be distributed to various publishers of print directories. It's the most basic service among those listed here. It's free if you have four or fewer locations and $50 per year for each additional location.
Universal Business Listing (UBL): For Complete Coverage - There are three first-year pricing tiers here: $79, $169 and $399. After the first year all renewals are $79 per year. Your business listing is widely distributed to directories and review sites; UBL posts a complete list. The "essential" package gets you listed, a mobile-friendly web card detailing your listing information and listing reports. As you progress to the more costly programs, you get verified ownership on Google+, SEO, video, and other benefits.
Localeze: Most advanced database if you have the budget - Two levels are offered here, but only the True Identity is designed for small and medium-sized businesses. The cost is about $25 a month when you pay for a full year. Localeze touts its "continual" verification of its more than 13 million business listings and its "rooftop geo-codes" that pinpoint business locations.
Yext: Cutting edge solution - This service has been in the press a lot recently—it's considered a pretty hot NYC startup. Along with cleaning up and establishing consistency among your listings like the other providers, Yext has "power listings" that allow you to add photos, promotions, make announcements and perform other "real time" operations. You are also notified of reviews and receive analytic reports. While you can do more here than at other providers, fewer sites are included at the entry levels of $17 and $38 a month. The more expensive levels ($42 and $83 per month) deliver more sites and additional features.
So what are you waiting for? Start automating local citations today so you can focus on what matters most, your business.