In this series of blog posts, we’ll introduce you to local search listings, explain why it is important to be found locally, and show you the “how to” steps for listings on the major local search engines. This is Part One of Six.
It doesn’t matter if you are a “brick-n-mortar” business, an online business with a local presence, or a pure online business. You should still want to have a strong local presence in the local search rankings. Your potential customers are searching for “your products and services” in “your locality.” You need to be there! Consultants and professional service providers want their businesses to be found by local people. Contractors like plumbers, electricians, and home remodelers need to have a strong local presence because travel time to remote places adds great additional expense.
Whatever your niche business is, you will want to establish a strong local search engine presence. Your local search presence will help you network more efficiently, can be a great source of local reviews, and will help your overall social engagement in the community.
It isn’t so much that potential clients will visit you. They may! But they need to know that you have a local search presence and that they can visit you if they want to. The growth of smart phones has made being found locally much, much more important. Potential clients will enter keywords into their smart phone and expect to have local businesses within a short driving distance come up. If your business is not there, you stand a chance of losing an opportunity to engage with a potential customer.
Let’s be clear about one thing: if you have been in business locally for a few years, you may already have a presence in the search engines – even if you didn’t do anything to obtain it. You may not have claimed ownership of that listing, and you may not control the listing. Wouldn’t you want to be in the “driver’s seat” of what is being said online with regard to your products and services? I certainly would!
The way to gain control of your listing is to check if you have a presence in major local search engines, and then make sure the content there is correct and was put there by your company. It is not a difficult process, but you will need to pay attention to details and force yourself to think in terms of categories and keywords that a client or prospect would type into a search engine to find you. The first step to discovering what is being said now about your business is to do some detective work.
Question: How do you find out what is being said online about your local business?
Answer: Go to the web site www.getlisted.org. Enter your business name and your zip code and click on Check Listing. In the first figure below, you will see a screen capture of the process. We are using a local wedding photographer in Rockford, IL as an example. (Click to enlarge image)
After you get the initial results from your query, you can click thru the various listings that have a green check mark. If you have only red check marks then you have no local listing for the search engine listed. You’ll be taken to the search engine’s web site, where you can view the content posted there. In order to change or edit the content, you will have had to previously set up an account at the search engine. If the content was not posted by you, you will need to contact the search engine to claim a new listing.
Here is an example of what was returned for this query. This firm has done a good job of getting their listings completed and having good content for their listings. (Click to enlarge image)
You will definitely want be listed on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, and BOTW (Best of the Web), in my opinion. Whether you wish to pursue listings in the rest of the directories or search engines is a judgment call on your part. If you have the time, it is good to list with as many local search engines as possible.
In the next post, we’ll look at the elements of local search listings. If you wish to explore, you will see that the listing involves: 1) Business Categories and Keywords, 2) Images, 3) Hours of Operation, 4) Address and Phone details, 5) Accepted methods of payment, 6) Videos, 7) Your web address, and 8) Other. All of these details need to be specified by the business owner, need to be current, need to reflect your unique offerings, and need to be correct. For reasons explained later, you will NOT want to use an 800 number, but do use a valid phone number with area code. Your address must be a physical location, and not a UPS, or USPS location with a PO Box.
Check back for the continuation of these blog posts as listed below:
#2: The Content of a Local Search Listing
#3: Setting Up Your Listing for Google Maps/Google Places
#4: Setting Up Your Listing for Bing Local and Yahoo Local
#5: Setting Up Your Listing in Yelp and BOTW (Best of the Web)
#6: Tips, Suggestions, and Additional Resources on Local Search Listings