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A business resolution worth keeping
February 8, 2017

By CHRIS HARDIE

Chamber Executive Director

 So how are those resolutions coming along?

Yeah, I know. Me too.

As we close out the month of January broken resolutions are stacked up like snowbanks along side the highway of good intentions. Hey, we're only human!

I'd like to share a resolution with you that is guaranteed to be simple and have positive results for your business. It will only take a few minutes but it may bring you more customers and provide for a better customer service experience.

In this day and age when so many customers turn toward search engines like Yahoo and Google to look up information, it's really important that they can find your business. Most businesses make sure they have a physical sign to direct people. Your business listing is your digital sign that directs customers and provides basic information.

Best of all, you can do this for FREE! Hard to get a better deal than that.

I'm going to use Google as the example, since it has nearly 78 percent of the search engine market.

First of all, you don't need a website to check your business listing. Your decision to have a website and how it can help your business is a topic for another day. But if you have an address, phone number and are open for business, you're listed somewhere on the internet.

To sign up, go to www.google.com/Mybusiness. Once you've claimed your business, you can set the hours, check the phone number, address and directions. It's also very easy to add photos and even respond to customer reviews.

If you're a fan of Google maps, you can also find your business and claim it.

Aside from making sure that your information is correct, claiming your business may also help you improve your local results ranking. Google uses relevance, distance and prominence to help determine which businesses come up when people search.

According to Google, relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is looking for. Distance is how far the business is from the location in the search. And prominence refers to how well-known a business is.

If you don't have a website or much presence on the web, that will factor into your prominence rankings. That gets into the topic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Here's how Google describes it:

"Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization."

You cannot request or pay Google to have a better local ranking. "We do our best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone."

But it's no secret that making sure you have accurate information about your business is a good start.

There you have it. If you haven't claimed your business yet, make sure that you get it done in 2017. You'll be glad you did.

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