Local Search: Be Visible and Findable at Google, Yahoo, and Bing
Small business owners, you can raise the odds that your business will be the one listed at the top of the page when potential customers or clients are searching for a business like yours using the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing).
The factors that influence your local search ranking (e.g. how close to the top your business listing appears in Google, Bing or Yahoo) are not easy to understand. Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Local are critical places for your business to be visible.
Local Search Ranking Factors
Every year, David Mihm publishes an edition of Local Search Ranking Factors to get the opinions of experts in local search about two key questions for small business owners:
–What can I do to improve my ranking (visibility) at Google, Bing and Yahoo?
–What techniques should I avoid?
The Local Search Ranking Factors report for 2010, published in June, clarifies the #1 priority for small business owners. Claim your business listings at Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Local to verify, control and optimize your web presence and get more eyeballs on your business.
It is my hope that this study will help small business owners confused by Local Search, or those strapped for time, to prioritize their marketing efforts.
–David Mihm, Local Search Ranking Factors
Claim Your Business Listings: Google Places, Bing Local, Yahoo Local
Claim your Google Places page to build a strong local search presence. This is your most important, #1, first-things-first step.
In addition to improving your visibility through a higher ranking, claiming your business listings is the key to controlling your information and ensuring it is accurate, high quality information about your business.
Don’t let your local web presences be controlled by others who may not have your best interests at heart.
Claiming is the right hing to do, but building out your profile with great information is what helps rankings. –Matt McGee, Small Business Search Marketing
Making sure your listings are claimed and verified is really crucial to ranking well. Not only claiming the listing but ensuring accurate and complete information will give you the best results. Google in particular is always looking to reward accurate and complete data.
Yahoo Local and Bing Local
Your local business listing at Yahoo and Bing will work very much like your Google Places listing. You are optimizing your listing for the Yahoo and Bing search engines. Give them as much of your information as possible including: your business name, URL (web site address and/or Facebook address), street address, telephone number, hours, payment methods, etc.
If you prefer an “all-in-one” approach, Yahoo offers two extended programs so you can add more web links, photos, even a five page web site. My opinion: you can do all this, more attractively, and free, in other ways. Better to put your time and energy into a Facebook page for your business.
Just Like the Yellow Pages
Be prepared with categories and keywords for your business when you work on your local business listings. Advice from an expert:
Categories. In many directories, millions of businesses have been automatically assigned to a category. Businesses should check to be sure they’re in the correct categories for their industry, and add on multiple other categories which are appropriate. This ensures that the listing will come up for business type searches as much as possible.
Keywords. Some services now allow one to associate keywords onto the profile. The way to make this work for you is to figure out what words users are using to type into yellow pages or search engines in order to find the type of business that you operate. For instance, if you are listed under an “attorneys” category, you might want to add a keyword for “lawyers.”
–Chris Silver at Search Engine Land, Anatomy and Optimization of a Local Business Profile
Local Search: Take Steps to List Your Business
· It’s free
It’s like free advertising! The more information you provide, the easier it is for customers to find you.
· It’s fast
Improve or update your listing anytime to suit your needs. There’s no schedule or hassle.
· Reach your customers
Customers are already searching for what you provide. What better time to reach them?
· List all of your locations
Expanding your business? Congratulations! Listings can accommodate all of your locations.
· You control your data
The verification process helps protect your listing against unauthorized changes.
Links to 3 Key Local Listing Sites:
Google Places: http://www.google.com/local/add/analyticsSplashPage
Bing Local Listing Center :https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx
Yahoo Local: http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/local/business.php
Helpful Background Articles on Local Search:
- Chris Silver Smith’s Anatomy of a Local Search Listing
- Bill Slawski’s Local Search Glossary(seobythesea.com)
- Matt McGee’s 10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm(smallbusinesssem.com)
- My Own “Local vs. Traditional SEO: Why Citation Is the New Link”(davidmihm.com)
- Lisa Barone’s “How to Launch that Small Business Website”(outspokenmedia.com)
- Dev Basu’s “Local Landing Page Best Practices”(devbasu.com)
- The Local Search SEMMYs(semmys.org)