When’s the last time you actually looked up a business in a phone book? It’s probably been years for me.

Whether I’m looking for a plumber or a pizza place, I turn to Google (sorry, Bing). It’s faster and more efficient. Within seconds, I can find the local businesses I’m looking for. And not only can I get their contact information, but I can read reviews, view images, and get directions for that business.

Phone Book

Naturally, this means local businesses face a new challenge: building an online presence. With people like me turning to search engines, it’s important that local plumbers and pizzerias appear in those results pages. Otherwise, people are going to take their business elsewhere.

Luckily, though, the challenge isn’t as daunting as you may think. There are a number of tools on the Web to help local businesses boost their search engine visibility.
Here are two of my favorites.

Yext
Yext Power Listings Plus is a unique tool that can help add rich content that answers the “who, what and the when” of any business. Yext allows businesses to add dynamic product listings, professional bios, event calendars and more to their listings on over two dozen sites. Everything gets controlled from a central account. When a listing is displayed it has the option to give deeper results. It can help include a menu to a restaurant, different products or services businesses offer, calendars of all types and biographies of individuals working at an office such as a doctor, dentist, chiropractor, etc. Rather than just making the listing, this product helps explain the listing. It is imperative to have rich content associated with a business listing. This enhances the user experience by delivering more information to your visitors. You want the listing to be as helpful as possible. You can maintain the information of all of the listings from one location on Yext.

Yext

Whitespark
Whitespark offers a local citation finder. It hunts down citation sources all over the web for you after you submit a form with the company information. I like to use Whitespark more and more as a research tool, shedding light on where the competitors are using their citations and knowing where other citations are needed. The tool requires the country, state, city and a main keyword relating to the business. Once you submit the information, it will search for as many citation sources you can get your company listed on. Once the search has ended you can go ahead and see all the other sites that are ranking for that specific keyword and see where they have their site’s listed. It will show all sites that are ranking on the first page for that localized key term. You have the option to see all the citations that those sites’ currently use. It will display the type of site, the Domain Authority, and whether or not your site is currently listed there. The coolest thing about it is that it gives you the option to submit the URL to your site or even submit the entire business’s information. All in all, Whitespark gives you the option to see where all the top ranking competitors are getting their sites listed.

Whitespark, a local citation finder.
These two tools should help get your local business a nice jump start. Hopefully with these two tools, you can start to build your online presence and no longer rely on the hopes and prayers that people find you in the phone book.