I’ve been a Merchant Circle member now for all of five days. However, even in that short a time, I’d have to say that I’m really impressed with the advanced features that it offers.
Even though over the course of the past year I’ve submitted more than 30 businesses, (21 of which were multiple locations of the same business), I never actually realized until now what a powerful local marketing tool Merchant Circle is. They even provide stats right on your dashboard that tell you the number of page views as well as the number of visits by Google and Yahoo!
Merchant Circle features go far beyond those of a typical local directory. Granted all the bells and whistles can be found elsewhere, but let’s give credit where credit is due. At least Merchant Circle (or their SEO company) was smart enough to add them to their site. Although user review sites are a dime a dozen now, reviews were the first feature MC added to help differentiate it from the crowded local directory niche. Some of the more impressive features include a question and answer section, seemingly borrowed from Yahoo Answers (or LinkedIn), a “what are you doing now” field, obviously borrowed from Twitter, and a powerful business connection feature, borrowed from Facebook, or for that matter, LinkedIn. Other features include a free blog, set up as part of your profile as soon as your listing goes live, a chat feature that enables you to talk to or leave a message for the merchant, and both custom coupons and ads. It doesn’t really matter that these features have been borrowed from other sites. What matters is that Merchant Circle makes them available to you on one site, and that you need to use them if you expect Merchant Circle to work for your business.
On that note, it seems that people are always asking why social media doesn’t work for them. The answer can usually be found in their own failure to take advantage of the available tools. In case of Merchant Circle you can participate by reaching out and making connections, answering or even asking questions, adding blog posts, and more. If you don’t, it’s a good bet that Merchant Circle won’t work for you. Merchant Circle seems to be a perfectly good way to introduce yourself and your website to a large number of other business owners in your city. While it’s still early in my Merchant Circle membership, only time will tell if I simply join, get listed, and that’s it, or actively participate. If I expect results, here’s hoping for participation.
For a complete list of other local directories to submit your website, check out Local Link Building.
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