03 Sep LOCAL BUSINESS MARKETING
When it comes to local search optimization for a local business, the ultimate goal is to get our clients ranking in Google’s local search results. As Google is the most used search engine in the world, it is imperative that businesses are able to get higher rankings in the Local search results. So, with this ultimate goal in mind, how do we optimize web sites and listings to get into Google’s Local listings?
Google has a complex algorithm for determining how a business listing should be ranked in its results. However, one thing we know for sure is that Google searches other business directories for business listings and the more directories it finds a business listing, the more “established” that business looks. So, if your business listing is found in 30 directories, it’s better than one of your competitors found in 10 directories.
Every business listing in a different directory is called a “citation.” In the example above, if your business was found in 30 directories, you would have 30 citations. The more citations Google finds, the more established the business appears and the greater the importance of that listing so it will be listed higher in search results. Now that you understand what a citation is, the key is how to generate hundreds of citations for a local business.
FIRST STEP – CONSISTENT CITATION INFORMATION
The biggest issue that Google faces when it comes to citations is reconciling the information found on other directories with the information it has in its own database. When Google searches for a business listing, it looks for three items: Business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP). The NAP must be consistent across the board so Google can reconcile the business listings/citations and give your business more credibility. If your address is incorrect or phone number is different on 10 sites, that means you will “lose” 10 citations from your listing because Google can’t tell if that is the correct listing or a different one.
HOW TO CLEAN UP CITATIONS
Depending on how long you have been in business, your business listing information could be correct across all business directories or it might have a lot of inconsistencies. There are a number of tools that can scan the web and tell you if your business listing information has discrepancies or not. The goal for an established business is to clean up these inconsistencies before marketing. So, how can you do this?
Option one is to go to as many directories as possible, manually create accounts with each one, claim your listing and then correct any information that is not correct. This is time consuming, but it’s worth it if you want all of your citations to be consistent.
The second option is to find a service that updates the major business listing aggregators with the correct NAP information. A business listing aggregator is a company that manages a global database of local businesses. These databases feed the major local directories like Yelp, Yellowpages.com, Yahoo! Local and more. If you can get your business listed in one of these databases, the major directories will update their systems accordingly and your information will be updated.
Once your business listing is uploaded to the business aggregator, it could take up to 36- months, but your listing will be updated across the web and citations will all be reconciled. No matter how you proceed, it is vital that your business listing information is consistent.
Another important factor in local search results is reviews. The more reviews you have, the more established you are. We highly recommend driving your customers to sites like Yelp and your Google+ business page to leave reviews for your business. You can add a link on your web site to direct people to your review pages and make it easier. When you complete a job for a customer, give them an invoice and a small business card with your review pages. You can even put in language to contact you if they were not happy with the service so they don’t post negative reviews.
WEB SITE OPTIMIZATION
The last area you should focus on for local business marketing is your web site optimization. Make sure your web site is optimized for search results in your local area. Make sure you have keywords that you want to target throughout your site. Also, make sure your address, name and phone number are listed in the footer of all your web pages and that it matches the same information as the directories.
If you need help, we can help with services to get your site ranked at the top results. Please contact us today.