Local SEO Tutorial: Online Business Listings
Yellow Pages and newspaper ads are on their way out. These days, the use of local SEO is essential for any business that caters to local, “offline” customers. Those customers can search online for a business offering particular products or services in their community and Google or any of the other search engines will show them relevant business listings. Google says that as many as 20 percent of all searches are aimed at finding and researching local businesses. You should optimize your business listing to ensure that you make your enterprise easy to find by potential customers.
Key Considerations When Setting Up Business Listings
Remember, the goal here is to help people to find you. Claim ownership of your business if it is already listed. In some cases, search engines may add listings without you submitting any information; it is still best to check to see if your business is listed and claim it if it is. That way you can make sure that your contact information such as name, address and phone number are all there and all correct. You will want to keep these consistent wherever they appear, whether on your website or in a local business directory listing. This consistency helps search engines to draw connections between the information and your business.
Local Business Directory Listings
As with all of your SEO efforts, the first place you should start is with the most important search engine: Google. Google Places is Google’s local business directory and you will be using it to list your business.
1. Start up a Google account specifically for your business. You do not want to use your personal account since you may be sharing access to it with others in your organization at some point.
2. You should then go to the Google Places website and log in.
3. Google will ask for the phone number of your business, you should enter this.
4. Search to see if your business has already been claimed.
5. If your business has not been claimed, fill out the form to provide information about your business. Be as thorough and detailed as possible.
6. You are allowed to add other information about your business apart from just the basics, so if you have picture and video content you can put that in as well.
7. Next, Google will ask for verification of your identity and you should provide that.
8. You should repeat the process for all other search engine local business directories including Yahoo Local and Bing Local; the methods of listing a site are essentially the same for all three. Remember, it is important that you put in exactly the same information on all sites to ensure consistency.
Once your local business directory listing is filled out, the major search engines will also provide searchers with maps and directions to your place of business. If you face little competition in your area, creating a listing may land you at the top of the search results with no further effort. On the other hand, competitive markets may require that you put more work into optimizing your site for local search. In any case, the more complete your local business directory listing is, the greater the benefits will be.
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Chris Countey is a Philadelphia-based writer who covers SEO and the search industry.