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1. Use the three big local listing services

Registering your business with Google Places allows it to be found more easily on Google searches and it shows up on Google Maps. All you have to do is fill out the form and register, then get your business verified through their confirmation process, which can be done either with a phone call or snail mail. Yahoo! also has a big database of businesses called Yahoo! Local. It’s free, and is certainly worth the few minutes it takes to set up. Microsoft’s Bing has a similar service that’s easy to sign up for.

2. Embrace social media

Social media isn’t just a tool to gain exposure—it has now become a necessary time investment for every business to make. You can tie in ads and offers on your Facebook page and have a direct channel with your customers on Twitter. Networking on LinkedIn—both at the personal and company level—can be another way to help your startup.

3. Put up multimedia on YouTube and Flickr

YouTube provides a free way to distribute creative promotional videos, but in order to succeed you must put up content that people want to view and are relevant to your business—a simple ad will not work. A Flickr profile can also help by giving you one place to compile all the photos for your business, and allows you to link back to your website.

4. Press releases

Every time your business does something newsworthy, don’t hesitate to shoot off a press release—maybe folks will pick up on it. They’re a powerful media tool to use to help generate publicity, and having free distribution of them is a bonus. There are dozens of websites out there that you can use for your press releases, such as PRLog and 24/7 Press Release.

5. Local Directory Listings

While this is a bit of an over-simplification, here is a good way to think about the difference; online search engines (like Google) help people find your website. Local search directories (like Yelp), help people find your business. Make sense?

If you’re saying to yourself that you’ve seen local search listings on Google as well, you’re right! Google returns both websites and local search listings, as do Bing and Yahoo. But being listed in website search results doesn’t necessarily mean that your business will be listed in local search listing results, and vice versa.

To have your website show up in search engine results, your site needs to be published and have good search engine optimisation. For your business to show up in local search results, it needs to be listed in local search directories.