If you own a local business, you probably already understand the importance of showing up in local search results. In the past, small businesses were virtually nonexistent in the search engine rankings because they were forced to compete with larger businesses. But search engines finally introduced a way for consumers to search for businesses located in specific cities or regions. Still, listing your business with Google’s My Business isn’t enough to get results that will make your business visible. Here are additional steps you can take to help ensure your business gets seen.
List Your Business
If you haven’t already, you will need to set up an accounts with Google and Yahoo, then add your business information to their local pages. You can list your business with Google for free. Yahoo has a free option, but also offers an enhanced listing service called Localworks for $29.99 a month. With it, your business will be listed in more than 50 local directories. You can also add photos, offers and other important details, change and update your listing, and track your performance.
Use Consistent NAP Citations
When you link your name, address, and phone (NAP) information to your Google and Yahoo listings, it can help put you closer to the top of local search results — but only if those NAP citations are consistent. InsideLocal surveyed 500 webinar attendees consisting of local search consultants and small and medium businesses, and found that 41 percent blamed NAP citation inconsistency as the primary reason for problems with local listings. For NAP citations to benefit your local search ranking, they must be consistent each time they appear in listings — on your blog, in press mentions, on social media accounts, on your website, and everywhere else your information appears.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Use the same version of your company name. For instance, if your name is ABC Law Firm, LLC, use that every time instead of sometimes using ABC Law Firm.
- Use the same address everywhere. Don’t abbreviate street names on some listings and not others. In other words, if your address is 100 Common Boulevard, don’t use 100 Common Blvd. on some listings.
- Use the same phone number on all listings. And use your local number as the primary number, not a toll-free number.
- The same information should also be on your website, preferably on every page. You can include the information in the header and footer of your webpages to accomplish this.
Expand Your Online Listings
Now that your business is listed, it’s time to build as many NAP citations as you can to bring your business higher up in the rankings. A great place to start is with local directories and your social media bios and descriptions.
There are hundreds of local directories to choose from, and they include some big ones like Yelp, Citysearch, and Merchant Circle, as well as less well-known or regional directories like Judy’s Book and FindUsLocal, which lets users choose their current city. HubSpot offers a list of 50 local directories and Andrew Shotland lists the top 55 local directories along with 15 of the country’s most influential directories for citations.
In addition to the well-known social media sites, there are hundreds more you can join to improve your ranking. Wikipedia offers a huge list to choose from.
Getting your business listed in local search results takes a bit of work, but it’s a low cost way to make sure your local customers can find you when they are ready to buy.