Welcome to the second blog of our Local Listings How-To Blog Series! Last week, we discussed ways to avoid the Local Listings Nightmare. Today, you're going to get the LD on local search optimization.
Local search optimization is all the rage in the marketing world, and it should be! Local search listings help bring prospective customers directly to your business, and more and more, Google is returning highly relevant and geographically targeted results. Optimizing your business' top local search listings gives your business a competitive advantage.
What does that mean for your business? You need to show up in local searches.
So, what is a local search result and how do you make sure your business is showing up?
Well, there are literally hundreds — if not thousands — of factors that rank your website in search results, so there isn’t one single factor that will solve all of your problems. But, if we are focusing on local search results, consistency and quality are key.
What Is A Local Listing And Why Should I Care?
On the surface, this is a pretty simple question to answer. Do you remember those big yellow books? What are they called? Oh yeah! Phone books. Well, a local listing is simply a digital version of those tree killers.
Sites like Yellow Pages, Yelp, Foursquare, and Superpages all have their very own phone book available to the public online for free. Most of these sites are free to get listed on, but they also have paid versions. In most cases, the free version will be just fine. Keep in mind, getting help with free versions may be a little more difficult, though, but don’t let that pressure you into purchasing an expensive listing. Later in this blog series, I will give you some tips to get the help you need, fast and for free.
Whether you have actively listed your business on these sites or not, there may be a listing already out there for you. These listings are often “scrapped” by crawlers (those robots that explore the internet all day long) or added by customers. This doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax though. Many times these listings are incorrect, out-dated, or simply not complete. Don’t get me started on duplicates, either!
If you haven’t taken the time to verify these listings, they might not get you much traction. On individual sites like Google+ and Yellowpages, verified listings often take precedence over scrapped listings.
You’ve Mentioned Local Search Results, But What Are They?
Let’s take a step back and look at where we are trying to show up. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on Google search results, and it’s no wonder why. According to comScore, 65% of all internet searches are performed by Google with its closest competitor demanding only 20% of the market share.
The areas we are aiming to improve here are the local listings area (Google Places or My Business) and the organic results. These areas are prime real estate! Consumers have been desensitized by a constant bombardment of ads, so we’ve started tuning them out! This makes it extremely critical to show up in your local results!
We have found that cleaning up your local listing presence helps improve organic search results, too. It also affords you the opportunity to show up in organic results for more than just your website. How? It’s simple: Sites like Yellow Pages return results for your listing too!
Foundation Is Key To Local Listings Success
Before we move on to the actual search directories, we should mention that the foundation is key. If you do not have an informative, relevant website, all of your hard work could be for nothing. So do you homework!
Research your keywords and see what terms resonate with your target market. You may find that you refer to your product or service as “inbound marketing” but your audience calls it “internet marketing.” It’s not about you here, its about your potential client! Google Trends is a great place to explore potential keywords.
Let me also say this, don’t try to cheat the system! If it feels wrong, it probably is. Stop the keyword stuffing and black hat SEO tactics. If you don’t, you could pay the price. Google can and will penalize you, and they aren’t soon to forget! And when I say soon, I mean it could take years to restore your reputation. Tactics might work in the short-term, but hard work pays off down the road.
I hope this article has given you a better understanding of what a local listing is and why it matters. Next time we will take a look at some of the top local listings sites that your business can claim and how to pick the best ones.
Stay tuned for the next blog in our Local Listings How-To Series!