Nation's Largest Online Small Business Network Launches New 'MerchantCircle Verified' Program to Boost Trust in Local Search

Three-Pronged Verification Process a First in Local Search



Apr 03, 2008, 01:00 ET from MerchantCircle

    LOS ALTOS, Calif., April 3, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- MerchantCircle, the
 largest online network of local business owners in the nation with more
 than 385,000 members, today announces its "MerchantCircle Verified"
 program, a web service designed to increase consumer trust in local search
 results. The program is specifically designed to help local business owners
 compete with established brands during difficult economic times.
 
     "I live in a farming community, where's there's a recession, not a lot
 of revenue and the local traffic has died off -- MerchantCircle has allowed
 me to keep my store going with the help of customers outside of Archer who
 find me on search engines. Their new verification process will help them
 trust that I'm a legitimate business as well," says Tina Elmore-Wright,
 owner of Scents of Peace in Archer, FL.
 
     "We've done a lot of research with our merchant base, studying the
 effects of the down economy on their businesses and we wanted to do
 something to alleviate consumer fears about the web," says Darren S.
 Waddell, Sr. Director of Marketing at MerchantCircle. "MerchantCircle
 Verified will boost trust in local merchants and better enable them to
 compete with national brands on the web."
 
     The "MerchantCircle Verified" is based upon a three-pronged
 verification process that includes: submission of detailed business
 information, aggregated reviews and ratings across the web, and
 peer-to-peer endorsements from other local business owners. Merchants who
 qualify for the "MerchantCircle Verified" program will receive a special
 badge on their business listing, indicating a higher level of
 trustworthiness. Priced to be accessible to all small businesses, the
 program is immediately available to the more than 14 million merchants on
 the web.
 
     According to a recent Nielsen/NetRatings survey, 78% of respondents
 said they used the internet more today than 2 years ago. With this dramatic
 change in consumer behavior, merchants need to develop an effective online
 strategy to attract customers. This new program is another example of
 MerchantCircle's dedication to providing simple, effective ways for local
 merchants to succeed online including:
 
 
-- A trustworthy, professional-looking, easy-to-use web presence -- Strong rankings in local search results -- Effective online advertising solutions To learn more about "MerchantCircle Verified": http://www.merchantcircle.com/corporate/landing/getverifiedbadge.html
Other News: -- ServiceMagic partnership - ServiceMagic, an operating business of IAC, has partnered with MerchantCircle to provide more consumer leads to merchants in local communities. The company connects homeowners with prescreened and customer-rated home service professionals. -- Local Directory Submission - Through its partnership with WebVisible, MerchantCircle members can now get their listings submitted to all major local search directories with the click of a button. -- LocalPlus - MerchantCircle members can now expand their business exposure to multiple regions as opposed to just the community in which they reside. About MerchantCircle Founded in 2005, MerchantCircle is the largest online network of small business owners in the nation, combining social networking aspects with a customizable web listing that allows merchants to attract new customers. More than 14 million MerchantCircle business listings across the country are easily accessed on major search engines. Currently, over 385,000 merchants on the MerchantCircle network upload pictures, blog, build coupons, and newsletters, while also connecting with other business owners. MerchantCircle gives business owners the power to manage their online reputation by aggregating reviews and increasing visibility across the web. MerchantCircle is located on Main St. in downtown Los Altos, Calif., and is funded by Rustic Canyon Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Disney's Steamboat Ventures and IAC. Learn more at http://www.merchantcircle.com.

SOURCE MerchantCircle
    LOS ALTOS, Calif., April 3, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- MerchantCircle, the
 largest online network of local business owners in the nation with more
 than 385,000 members, today announces its "MerchantCircle Verified"
 program, a web service designed to increase consumer trust in local search
 results. The program is specifically designed to help local business owners
 compete with established brands during difficult economic times.
 
     "I live in a farming community, where's there's a recession, not a lot
 of revenue and the local traffic has died off -- MerchantCircle has allowed
 me to keep my store going with the help of customers outside of Archer who
 find me on search engines. Their new verification process will help them
 trust that I'm a legitimate business as well," says Tina Elmore-Wright,
 owner of Scents of Peace in Archer, FL.
 
     "We've done a lot of research with our merchant base, studying the
 effects of the down economy on their businesses and we wanted to do
 something to alleviate consumer fears about the web," says Darren S.
 Waddell, Sr. Director of Marketing at MerchantCircle. "MerchantCircle
 Verified will boost trust in local merchants and better enable them to
 compete with national brands on the web."
 
     The "MerchantCircle Verified" is based upon a three-pronged
 verification process that includes: submission of detailed business
 information, aggregated reviews and ratings across the web, and
 peer-to-peer endorsements from other local business owners. Merchants who
 qualify for the "MerchantCircle Verified" program will receive a special
 badge on their business listing, indicating a higher level of
 trustworthiness. Priced to be accessible to all small businesses, the
 program is immediately available to the more than 14 million merchants on
 the web.
 
     According to a recent Nielsen/NetRatings survey, 78% of respondents
 said they used the internet more today than 2 years ago. With this dramatic
 change in consumer behavior, merchants need to develop an effective online
 strategy to attract customers. This new program is another example of
 MerchantCircle's dedication to providing simple, effective ways for local
 merchants to succeed online including:
 
 
-- A trustworthy, professional-looking, easy-to-use web presence -- Strong rankings in local search results -- Effective online advertising solutions To learn more about "MerchantCircle Verified": http://www.merchantcircle.com/corporate/landing/getverifiedbadge.html
Other News: -- ServiceMagic partnership - ServiceMagic, an operating business of IAC, has partnered with MerchantCircle to provide more consumer leads to merchants in local communities. The company connects homeowners with prescreened and customer-rated home service professionals. -- Local Directory Submission - Through its partnership with WebVisible, MerchantCircle members can now get their listings submitted to all major local search directories with the click of a button. -- LocalPlus - MerchantCircle members can now expand their business exposure to multiple regions as opposed to just the community in which they reside. About MerchantCircle Founded in 2005, MerchantCircle is the largest online network of small business owners in the nation, combining social networking aspects with a customizable web listing that allows merchants to attract new customers. More than 14 million MerchantCircle business listings across the country are easily accessed on major search engines. Currently, over 385,000 merchants on the MerchantCircle network upload pictures, blog, build coupons, and newsletters, while also connecting with other business owners. MerchantCircle gives business owners the power to manage their online reputation by aggregating reviews and increasing visibility across the web. MerchantCircle is located on Main St. in downtown Los Altos, Calif., and is funded by Rustic Canyon Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Disney's Steamboat Ventures and IAC. Learn more at http://www.merchantcircle.com. SOURCE MerchantCircle