Web Visibility - Local Web Search
A Torian Group Solution - Technology with Integrity
Executive Summary: Get your business set up on Google Maps, Yahoo Places, Yelp, and local directories so people can find you on their cell phone, and in “local” searches on the internet. About 40% of internet searches are “local internet” searches – a service or product plus a location. Cell phones with GPS return search results for businesses that have a nearby location. If you are not showing up in local search, you are losing business. The bottom line impact of local listing exceeds that of the phone book, social media or Google ad campaigns, and it is easy to do. We can get you started with local search, including listings in local directories for about $200.
If you have a business location, you need to be taking advantage of local web search. When was the last time you opened a telephone book to find a local business? Your customers are searching their mobile devices, checking online services such as Google411, and finding you on Google Maps.
About 40% of internet searches are “local internet” searches – a service or product plus a location. If you are not showing up in local search, you are losing business.
Search algorithms are smarter at understanding the “local intent” of a search, and also can often tell where the searcher is located. If you type in “tacos” you are likely to get listings for local Mexican restaurants. This is called GeoTargeting. It is especially useful for internet enabled mobile phones. You want your business to be in the top listings returned – these are typically customers actively looking for your service, in your city. You can optimize your search results by understanding what search terms potential customers use when looking for your services.
The first step is to see how you look online – go to www.getlisted.org, and put in your business name and zip. This will show you where you stand with Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Bing, Yelp, and many others. You can then “claim your listing” by creating an account at each search engine, and provide more information about your company. This often involves proving your ownership of the location by answering an automated phone call at your place of business, so plan on doing this from work. The more detail you provide, and the more different “citations” (listings) your business has, the more likely you are to be found. You also want to be sure to claim your listings to prevent someone else from trying to steal them.
Some of the search engines offer a free portal which allows you to see how many times you were displayed in local searches and what search terms were used. It will also show you how many times you’re listing was clicked on, and whether the map was accessed. This allows you to fine tune your description of services to include the right key words.
Be sure to be consistent in using your “Doing Business As” name, and to use exactly the same address format and phone number. Local search engines use data from major data providers such as Axciom and InfoUSA, which get their information from business registrations, credit reporting, etc. They also check traditional phone listings, and internet directories such as SuperPages, Merchant Circle, etc. You want to be listed the same everywhere, so your listings reinforce each other.
Your listing with many sites is rated on “completeness”. The more you fill out, the more complete your listing is, and the more points it gets toward being listed in searches. Fill out all the fields, even if they may not be entirely relevant to your type of business.
When filling out your listing follow these guidelines:
- Avoid claiming duplicate listings – you want only one verified listing with each search engine, at each physical address.
- Do not use call tracking numbers for your phone. You want the same number to appear across all listings. Use a local phone number rather than a toll free number – it ranks you higher as being local.
- Be sure to use an email address associated with your website domain: firstname.lastname@example.org, not email@example.com.
- Take full advantage of the available space by providing a complete and informative description of your business, being sure to include the right key words. Emphasize your unique selling proposition.
- Choose your business categories carefully. This is critical to being found. Do not include the city or location – it will not help. In some cases you can type in custom categories. If you do, use Blumenthal’s Google LBC Categories Preview Tool to find synonyms that are recognized by Google Places.
- Testing has shown that selecting a service area is actually detrimental to your listing. If you have a physical location, rely on that.
- Upload at least one, and preferably 10 images to make your listing complete. This can include your logo, the building frontage, products, staff pictures – anything that showcases your business best. Google Places allows you to upload up to 5 Videos. Only one video counts toward completing your listing.
- Check your listing for spelling and grammar – you want to present a professional appearance online.
In addition, you want to optimize your website for local search. Make sure it mentions your location, and that the city or area you are in is included in the web copy for relevant landing pages, page titles, and tags. For example, your page title could be “Great Tacos” or “Burritos, Tacos and Mexican Food in Visalia Ca.”
Many social networking sites have a place to enter your “Map”. By linking to your local listing, it gains in search ranking, and it makes it easier for your customers to get a map.
Just as inbound links strengthen your website, “citations” strengthen your local listing. The more directories you appear in, the more likely you are to be what people are looking for when they search. Here are some additional places to get listed:
- Internet Yellow Pages directories such as Superpages, Merchant Circle, yellowpages.com, anywho.com, switchboard.com.
- The Chamber of Commerce, and Better Business Bureau.
- Business Data Syndication houses: InfoUSA, Axciom, Dun & Bradstreet
- Review and Rating directories. Industry specific review sites.
- Business Directories: Brownbook, Praized
- Location based services such as FourSquare.
- Industry specific websites. Be sure you get listed in any vendor directories for products you carry.
- Government directories.
Web SEO scams have been replaced with local search optimization scams. Beware of people from out of the area offering to “optimize” your local search for a fee. Check their credibility carefully.
Universal Business Listings
Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networking for the past 30 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE. He was recognized as Entrepreneur of the year for 2008 by the Tulare County EDC. He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, web and custom software development. www.toriangroup.com