In our post Get Your Small Business Listed on Local Search Engines, we stressed the importance of having a local search listing and provided a tool to discover where you are currently listed, whether you’ve claimed the listings, and how to find out what the listing says about your business.
Local search engines already have information about your business. The likely source of that information is the old yellow pages content compiled by InfoUSA and Acxiom. It is ironic that the phone book’s Yellow Page information is becoming functionally obsolete, but the best path to a “do nothing online listing” is to have a simple, basic Yellow Pages listing. Of course the superior approach is to develop the local listing yourself, and then go straight to the search engines and place the content. Each search engine has a local listing center where the business owner can log in, claim their listing, and keep their business data up to date. Submissions are generally free, and you have complete control over changing the listing.
For Google, the local listing center is the Google Places page.
This will be the title of your listing. You will need to think in terms of keywords that you want your business to rank for. If you are Jean Simpson and own a wedding apparel shop in Chicago, you will want your title to be “Jean Simpson’s Chicago Wedding Apparel,” or similar. As space permits, you should possibly add phrases like wedding shoes, wedding dresses, and other related keywords. In other words, “ Jean Simpson’s Chicago Wedding Dresses and Wedding Shoes.” Don’t go too far, though. Too many keywords will be viewed as spam.
These are the basics of street, city, zip, etc. Be sure this address data is the same as the data on your web site, and in any Internet Yellow Page listing you may have. Identical addresses from different places are viewed as validation by the local search company.
List your local phone number here. Local phone listings provide confirmation that you are indeed, located where you say you are located. Do not use an 800 number for your main listing. Instead, put the 800 number in the additional phones block, if there is one provided.
Very Important: If you have multiple locations with multiple local phone numbers, you should prepare a listing for each location.
List your business website URL, and your primary email.
Prepare a 200 character description of your business. Prepare it concisely and carefully with your businesses main keywords in mind. You must write the description in such a way that it makes sense to a human reading it, and that it also allows a search engine to index it according to keywords. Do not stuff additional keywords here. Keywords in the business description are important, but keywords within the Title take precedence.
The local engine usually provides a small map with a marker. They will place the marker based on the address you provided. However, it is up to you to verify if the marker is correctly located, and to relocate it if needed.
The process for claiming your listing will be covered in my next post. Claiming your listing can be done through phone verification, so it is relatively easy and not time consuming. Because we are preparing all the content, we will continue as if the listing had already been claimed. Claiming your listing is very important, as it prevents others from editing your information without your permission. Once your listing is claimed, you can finish the important details that are listed below!
The categories you use to describe your business are critical to determining what local keywords your business will rank for. Do keyword research upfront, and determine what keywords will bring you traffic, as well as what keywords accurately describe your business.
The local search engine will suggest categories for you. Examples are Churches, Restaurant, Graphics Design, etc. You don’t have to use the categories suggested, but if they match to your business, then please do use them.
Provide your hours of operation for all 7 days of the week. List your acceptable payment methods such as Cash, Check, Credit Card, etc.
Local search engines want to build as complete a business profile as possible. Providing relevant photos of your business, your products, and your services (to the extent possible) will help build a credible profile and will help you rank better locally. Most search engines allow up to 10 photographs per listing. Use them all.
It is even to your advantage to have the 10 photos in Google be different than the 10 photos in Bing, or Yelp.
Just like photos, videos help you build credibility and expand your profile. We suggest you prepare 3 to 5 videos in mp4 format that you can upload to the local search listing centers. You should also place these videos on your YouTube channel, and search engine optimize them on YouTube.
You now have the basic content you need for multiple local listings in multiple search engines. Your process going forward will be to:
In my next post we will walk through the process of setting up a local listing in Google Maps/Google Places.