I noticed that my fellow blogger at Bradford Cares wrote a glowing review for a neighbourhood restaurant but chastised the business for the poor quality of its website. There is something of a similar situation in Innisfil where some businesses have been neglecting a free opportunity to raise their online awareness.
The Town of Innisfil partnered with a private firm, YLM, (= ‘Your Local Marketplace’) to provide local businesses and community organizations with free access to a community based web directory. The updated Town website even replicates the restaurant listings under their “Tourism” link. To be successful, the initiative requires the commitment of businesses and organizations to create their own listings, manage updates and make changes.
It hasn’t helped that the link to the directory on the Town of Innisfil’s website has been bringing potential users to an inoperable search screen lately. The error is being investigated after I reported it. In the meantime, the actual directory address, www.ylm.ca is functional.
From what I have seen, a lot of listings are sadly incomplete, barely going beyond name and address. It’s apparent that many local business owners don’t realize the opportunity they are squandering. YLM provides space to include a photo and logo, descriptive text and additional space that can be used to include seasonal or special offers, updates, events, or other periodic news. Making regular updates can automatically improve a listing’s priority in a search list. It’s important to specify the correct category or categories for your line of business in order to be included in the right search results.
Does It Work?
If retailers think no one is actually using the directory to find them it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy through neglect. In June I wrote about the strawberry picking season and included links to two local berry farm websites. My modest blog attracts a few thousand views per year. My readership statistics show that 72 people viewed the berry article in about 4 weeks. Most of them viewed my article after searching Google with terms such as Innisfil, strawberries, farms, and berry-picking. If only half of them made a visit and spent an average of $20, that’s $720 in extra sales. And more people are searching the internet on smart phones these days.
Who Are You Missing?
With Innisfil adding about a thousand new households per year, you would think local businesses would be all over this opportunity to promote awareness and ensure they capture new customers. But my own impression has been that they are missing the boat. Who are you missing? Me, for example. I wanted to make some colour photocopies recently from a digital file. If that’s a local service, I didn’t find it in Innisfil and the businesses in the directory didn’t describe their services – black & white? colour? digital? I’ve browsed the directory at times for other services and came away disappointed.
I get it. I know how easy it is to be absorbed in the day-to-day tasks of a small business. If you’d like a hand to get your Innisfil business listing onto the right track, I can help. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how.
Click to share your thoughts about the directory in my short (10 question) survey