As the phone book shrinks to a withered shell of it’s former self, local shops and service business have come to realize just how important it is to be seen on the “Google 7 Pack” for relevant terms in their local area. In this post, we’re going to look at some fundamental ways you can improve your chances and even the odds a bit when it comes to getting noticed in local search.
Claim and Setup Your Google+ Page for Your Business
While Google isn’t making life easy with the changes to the Google Places / Local+ system every few months, it’s clear that it’s necessary to set up your local Google plus profile. If you haven’t done so already, create a page for your business in Google Plus. Do your best to fill out the profile in it’s entirety, and add business categories that match your business as closely as possible. For more, read read our comprehensive Google+ business tips page.
Some other important things to remember:
- Add as many relevant images as you are able. Pictures of actual storefronts or product offerings are best, stock photos aren’t as effective.
- If you’ve got video content, like a commercial or even a how to video, see if you can add that in there as well.
- Don’t be skimpy on the description! Tell your audience what it is you do, and what sets you apart from the rest.
- They’ll ask you to confirm your listing with a pin code found on a postcard that gets mailed. Don’t forget this, and make sure you complete the process by entering this pin number!
Claim and Setup Your Local Page on the Other Two Big Guys
Sure, they’ve got much less of the market share, but you’re definitely going to want to set up your profile on Bing Places and Yahoo Local as well. The process is similar to Google’s where you’ll have to prove ownership of the listing with a phone call or a mailed postcard. Bing’s been sending out postcards at a fast rate, while Yahoo’s response time is all over the place.
Create Citations with Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone) Data
Google’s going to feel a whole lot better about positioning your site with higher visibility if it has proof and what are known as citations that your business exists. The best way to achieve this is to create business listings on directory sites that feature local businesses. Start off with Yelp and Merchant Places, keeping in mind that you should do the same things we mentioned in step one… fill out the business profiles as completely as possible. Also try to look for citations from sites that are directly related to your profession rather than general business directories. The most important thing to remember here is always be consistent with your NAP information, which is Name, Address, and Phone Number. Don’t give your cell phone number on some, the main line on others, and a toll free number on another. Do your best to keep all data consistent throughout, down to the spelling of Street vs. just typing St.
Some examples of Citations you should shoot for might be:
Great Work, But Before You Go…
What you’ve done up to this point will go a long way to getting your local business and ranking in local search. There is, however, one unintended side effect… now you’ve got a target on your back. Within a week or two a Yelp rep will call offering you their “limited time only” promotion for advertising or YP.com might call asking you to try their pay per impression advertising system. Not only that, you’re going to be on the radar of “budget” SEO firms who might cold call you now and then promising that they’re “Google Certified” and that they’ll get your phone ringing off the hook. At this point, I’d recommend staying away from all that, and just continue steadily building your own authority. Yelp makes sense for some business models, but definitely not all!
This post has been submitted using our SEO guest post page. We welcome all quality submissions and reject all others. Read more about the author below:
Ross Taylor is the owner of Alameda Internet Marketing, an SEO firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. AIM mainly serves local service oriented businesses, but also works on large SEO projects as well.
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