Be Wary of "FREE" Internet advertising-- you'll have to do the work and you might be building someone else's business instead of your own.
(not looking for info about internet advertising? see also-- Advertising Methods...)
Own Your Message ...and Own Your Space
There are lots and lots of services available to small business to help you advertise on the internet and in printed directories. But as long as you're considering buying some advertising placements, shouldn't you consider just hiring someone with expertise to help you avoid problems or a waste of your time and money? Not every kind of advertising works for every kind of business. NeighborWave makes good advertising content and then finds the right advertising placement so that it gets used.
A very Typical Internet Business Model is to use online automated services that work like old phone directories: Cityguide, Citysearch, YellowBook, YellowPages, Yahoo Small Business-- and there are a large number of local online business guides dating back ten years or more. Here's how they get you to do work for them. They take your information, then categorize your business in a database and then if they are lucky enough to have no competitors for a particular word-phrase that gets searched, they display their advertisers on a search results page. That's right-- you sitting there with your competition and no means to differentiate yourself even if you pay a monthly fee. If you are a "widget maker" in "Podunkville Ireland", the result will show you sitting there as just a name-- right next to your competitors. If you're fortunate enough to be named "Zebra Widget Makers", then you'll be at the bottom of the list, possibly not even on the first page.
Directories versus Search Engines
The Directories on the internet are database listers and they have a different goal than you do. The directories are not search engines like Google, they are a destination for searchers using Google and you pay monthly to grow their business. And there is good reason for you to NOT be in those online directories. The database lister's aim is to become an internet destination that is highly ranked by the search engines. They work on this by using computer automation to collect information that is just useful enough to show up in the search results. Once you are on their pages, they provide very few tools to help you distinguish your business from your competitors. And they charge you-- continuously, monthly, with almost no opportunity to display anything except your name. Search Engines, on the other hand, can direct people straight to your own website. And on your website there are no competitors, just your messages. Search Results are FREE-- this is the fabled "promised land" of internet advertising: Real customers find you for free. Good Small Business Advertising Messages differ from the "getting your name out there" approach by giving your customers the information that they want. The messages to help them choose you. The directories get paid essentially doing fear-based sales. The search engines get paid by providing useful information and that useful information is: your message. What's better about search marketing is that it's free to start- you can get found by Google.
Search Is Better For You
Your goals are different- your advertising is intended to reach more customers. Search Engine Marketing is the process of helping customers find your own website and it's message. The internet search engines reward good content with higher page listings. It's a simple choice-- do you want to be a database entry sitting next to your competitors? Or would you rather be listed ABOVE that database and then displayed alone using a message that compels prospective customers to know you and become actual customers?
The Value of advertising is in the message and the message is in the words. It's common for small business to experiment with internet advertising. And the most common method is to hire a "website designer"- but a designer usually can't help Google find you new customers. Google wants words and they reward well-written content with high rankings. Quality online copywriting is typically enough to put you ahead of even the directories in Google's results. And once they find your site, your messages are delivered directly from the small business publishing platform that you own- no competition.
I'll guess that I'll say again that NeighborWave is a local, small business. We get paid for real work done by a person, frequently that person is local to you. We don't get paid for programming or anything automated. You talk. We write, design and publish for you. That's how we work. Give us a Wave.