Google yourself: Using search tools to enhance your presence on the Internet

This summer, the Southern Ute Management Information Systems Department is taking a look at simple things small and independent business owners can do online to improve their marketing.

In this issue, we’ll discuss ways to research whether your business is listed in online directories and how it’s listed. Are you subject to good or bad reviews for your product or service? How can you increase awareness of your business and improve its reputation on the Internet?

Being the old-timer that I am, I still look up addresses and telephone numbers in phone books. When I’m running errands and need information, I’ll stop at a store and ask to see a phone book. Increasingly, the store clerks tell me they either don’t have one or don’t know where it is.

This is because directory information is migrating from print media to online directories. Consumers can look up information on goods and services needed from their computers, smartphones and tablets.

It’s a good idea for small and independent business folks to make sure their goods and services are listed in various places online. The three most popular places on the Internet to search for information are Google (, Bing ( and Yahoo (

Try several different searches on each of these websites. First, search for the name of your company or the name you use to do business.

Look for several items in the search results. Does your name come up in the context of your business? If you are a plumber, does your name or company appear associated with plumbing? Does the name appear in the context of your community?

If you have a website, does the site show up in search results? Are there reviews by customers? Are those reviews positive?

Follow some of the links in the search results to your business and see if they seem to help or harm your business. Copy Internet addresses of key websites that may affect your business and save them for later reference.

Second, search for the type of business you have and the name of your community. For example, search “plumber Ignacio.” When I did this on Google, seven plumbers between Bayfield and Durango – but none from Ignacio – were listed along with locations on a map.

However, also on the search results page was a link to plumbers on On the Yellow Pages website, there was a plumber listed specifically in Ignacio.

Are there other directories for plumbers (or whatever) in Ignacio? Is your business listed? If not, is there a contact address you can use to get listed?

Third, search specifically for reviews of your business, your type of business, and your location. Note the sites that appear in search results. Research shows a significant number of people base their decisions to buy products or services on online reviews.

It would be beneficial for you to provide customers with the chance to review your work or products. As you conduct your business, ask for recommendations from your customers on popular websites.

In our example, the Yellow Pages site appeared toward the top of search results when looking for plumbers in Ignacio. Yellow Pages also has a review function. It might make sense for you to drive your customers there to review your business.

If you have your own web site, create a testimonial section for reviews. Whether you use an a directory site or your own website’s testimonial page, emailing your customers or providing a card with directions to review your work could help drive positive feedback of your goods or services, which will help your business.

For example, if you were a plumber, you could collect your customer’s email addresses as part of the invoice process and send a follow-up email under the subject of “How did we do?”

The body of the message could be “Boxy Widgets Plumbing wants to hear how we did and share that information. We are collecting reviews of our service at [website]. Thank you.”

There are other ways to enhance your company’s presence on the Internet. Some of these include improving your website to be more search engine friendly. For more information, search the web for “how to improve search engine ranking.”

Another simple way to improve your company’s Internet presence is through social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. We will discuss how to use these sites in detail next time.

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