My business is in the phone book, why do I need to be online? People use to rely on the yellow pages when searching for a local electrician, hair dresser or other services; but now more and more people are going online to find these same providers. If your business is not listed or has incorrect or limited information you are most likely losing business.
Local and mobile search is constantly growing. Aaron Weiche of Spyder Trap and MNSearch brought us these statics during his excellent presentation on Local Search at Social Media Breakfast – Redwood Area in December:
- 50% of all searches on Google have local intent and that’s growing fast!
- 70% of mobile searches take action (call, click, walk-in) within an hour of their search!
Claiming Your Listings
Now that you know how important listing your business is, you might wonder where to start. Visit getlisted.org, a fabulous, free website that verifies if your business is claimed on thirteen major directories including: Google, Bing, Expressupdate, Neustar Localeze, Yelp, Foursquare, Yahoo!, Superpages.com, Citysearch, Hotfrog and more. Just enter your business name and zip code and it gives you a report with an overall listing % (which is sure to go up after reading this post) and a detailed list of which sites you are (or are not) claimed on. Under each site you have the option to view, edit or claim your listing. Use these links and this information to move forward!
It is VERY important to use a consistent NAP (name, address and phone number) when claiming your listings online! By doing this, search engines like Google recognize it as the same business listed over many sites, trusts it as a valid business, and identifies its location. This is especially true when customers are looking for your business or services locally. Be sure to add key words in your description that describe what services you provide “Jane’s Cut & Curl Hair Salon” is a good example. It includes the business name and what it does without the fluff of too many keywords.
Most of the popular listing sites offer categories to place your business under. Do not skip this important step! Search engines use this information to decide which businesses to display for a specific search. Be sure to choose the categories that best describe what services your business offers. Businesses that are not categorized or are categorized improperly will not be displayed.
Importance of Links & Mentions
Search engines find out about your business through tracking links that point to your website and through mentions of your business that appear on other sites. Search engines use this information to determine the ranking and trustworthiness of your local business. Links from high-quality website are best, like your local chamber or well-known news sites like your local news paper, radio station and others such as the Star Tribune. Links from other local businesses and businesses related to your industry are great as well.
Start thinking about how to get links form other sites.
OpenSiteExplorer.org is a great tool for tracking which sites are linking to you and finding new sites to request a link from. Simply type in a web address and it runs a report of links and an overall rating of your site. It also allows you to compare your site to up to five other sites. Looking at who is linking to your competitors or other local businesses is a great way to find new links as well. After you locate relevant websites, simply ask them for a link or suggest a link exchange by offering to add them to your links page. During the conversation include why linking to your site would be beneficial to their business. If it is a charity or non-profit organization, offer a donation or to calibrate on a project in exchange of a link. Don’t forget new or current vendors that work with your business, request a link during your next business meeting.
Social Media Benefits
Search engines also use social networks. Sharing content on social media sites shows that your company is alive and active. Claim an account on popular sites like Facebook and Twitter. Make sure to include a link to your website and consistent and accurate information on your social media profiles. It is also important to explore and start using Google Plus as it makes a big impact in Google search and local listing rankings. Even if you use other social sites more often, your Google+ page will dominate in search rankings, making it well worth the effort. Read this article “10 Dead Simple Tips to Take Advantage of Google + for SEO” for tips and additional information.
Get your local business found! Follow these steps to attract the traffic that you deserve from search engines!