Phonebooks were the small businesses main strategy for marketing. Now many businesses are finding diminishing returns on their advertising dollars. What can a small business do to get the customers they were used from this advertising source? Now small business can claim their listing online and for free.

A small business should start by claiming their listing in Google Places, Yahoo Maps, and Bing Maps. Once you have claimed your site you should fill out the information as accurately and completely as possible. Here is a short look at what things to look for in claiming your listing online.

1) Include your business contact information. It is a no brainer to include your address but some companies avoid this. Google seems to penalize companies who avoid listing their address. Also include a domain related email address which gives customers another option in contacting you.

2) Completely fill out your categories in your listing. The categories are often over looked or abused with spam like information. Spam looks most like location related categories as opposed to industry related categories. Each of the business listings gives you multiple listing opportunities so selecting the areas that you make the most money on should be top priority.

3) Include images. This helps you connect with your customers, creates an interactive site, and helps sell your company to your customers. This also goes to completing your listing so be detailed oriented. Images of your company owners or people they might see, logo, vehicles, and possibly some products are useful.

4) Custom Field should also be completed to help give additional information that your company, address, or categories do not. For instance you can list the age of you company, types of products, payment types, and hours of operation.

5) Coupons are another part that you can add to differentiate your business listing. This can go to selling your products and services as well as another type in helping you recognize the return on your site.

6) In most cases you can pay a flat fee to get additional listing information. It usually costs $25 dollars per month with no limit to the number of clicks. So you can highlight interesting information about your company or highlight a promotion for an affordable price.

7) Reviews. Reviews are an important aspect for these search engines. It is like a third party verification that your company is legitimate. A business should take advantage of this by asking their customers to review their company products and services. Although this won’t automatically increase your position it may make a difference between you and your greatest competitor.

Although phonebooks are not as profitable for location based businesses there are alternatives for these companies. Claiming your business in the search engines is a start to getting your site listed online. Completing your listing with detailed contact information, complete non spam categories, and useful information like coupons, custom fields, and pictures are a great way to get your listing visible to your customers. Finally get people to review your company. It is important factor in keeping your business in front of mind and highly recommended.