Get on the map

Cynthia CloskeyGeneral

Flower shop on Google Maps

Flower shop on Google Maps originally uploaded by Larsz

If your business or organization focuses on local clients and customers, the most effective way to make sure they find you on the Web is to get listed on online map services, like Google Maps, MapQuest, and MSN Live Search.

These free business listings are an easy way to get your website to show up in searches — and they’re far cheaper than any search engine optimization available.

Listings take just a few minutes to create (although they take a bit longer to activate). Read on to find out what you’ll need, where to go, and what to do.

A little preparation will speed you along. Gather this information before you start:

  • Business name, address, phone number, and fax number
  • Main contact person, including email address and phone number
  • Company slogan (your tagline or a five-word description)
  • Description: up to 200 characters, including spaces
  • Categories in which the business fits
  • Year the company was established
  • Specialties (your services or product offerings)
  • Professional affiliations
  • Languages spoken
  • Forms of payment accepted
  • Hours of operation
  • Photos (such as exterior of building, key products, or happy customers enjoying your products or services)
  • Website address

You’ll also need an account for certain services. If you don’t already have these accounts or if you’d rather keep separate business and personal accounts, you can create them for free as you go:

  • A Google account for Google Local Business Center (note that this doesn’t need to be a Gmail account)
  • A Windows Live ID for MSN Live Maps

Once you’re ready, here are the links to get started:

Google Local Business Center

MSN Live Search Local Listing Center

MapQuest Business Listings

In each case, there’s a confirmation process that involves the service sending a PIN or ID number to your location. This takes a few days or weeks; once you receive each ID number, you’ll log back in and enter it to make your listing live.

Once it’s live, your listing will appear when people search for your services or products in your area. Remember to keep your listing up-to-date when you add or change your offerings.

Do you know of other listings services that have been valuable for your business or organization? Please share them in the comments.

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