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If you own a business that sells goods or services to people within your geographic area, it is critical that you are found in online through ‘local’ search. With the rapid growth of mobile device usage, search engines results nowadays take local search signals as a major factor in ranking their search results. Anyone who searches services like ‘barbershop’ on their mobile device while in Sydney will have very different results from someone searching the same service while in London. With increasing usage of location-based apps and devices, the strength of local search will only increase in the upcoming years.
The importance of being found in local search cannot be understated. While it is important to own a traditional phonebook listing, there is no doubt that a simple online listing can have a greater impact in the potential leads or service inquiries.
Tip #1 Claim Your Listings
The easiest and yet most important step is to own digital spaces. Go online and create social media accounts. It will not only allow you to improve your online visibility but also allow you to protect your brand and reputation.
Here are the top listings that will help your local business:
- Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn
- Social + Image Sites like Pinterest and Instagram
- Review Sites like Yelp or similar
The type of social media or listing that you join should be matched with your goal and industry. For instance a woman’s salon shop can have an instagram or pinterest account, while a bank would avoid having one. A bank would have a Linkedin and Googleplus account instead. There are some social media channels that may be more appropriate for some businesses more than others.
Tip #2 Brand Consistency
Be consistent with the following info on all your listings:
- Business Name
- Address and Phone number
- Business Hours
Your business name and title is one of the most important items you need to keep consistent. Having it consistent will allow search engines to properly index your business in search and geographic search.
For instance, if your business is called “Lou’s Mart’ in listing and ‘Lou’s Grocery’ in another, there is a chance that search engine’s will see this a 2 separate entities. You should choose one business name and title and stick to it for all business listings – even offline listings like yellow pages.
It is important that you are descriptive with your business title. Use specific categories/descriptors for your listings. If you own a car repair shop, make sure to include it in the business title – like Adam’s Car Repair Shop. A descriptive title will rank better than if you name it a simply ‘Adam’s’.
While it is important to be descriptive about your business title, you should avoid using titles with marketing descriptions like – best or #1. This is not acceptable in Google guidelines as it is not relevant in local search.
Read the Google Quality Guidelines for Local Businesses on business info below:
- Your title should reflect your business’s real-world title.
- In addition to your business’s real-world title, you may include a single descriptor that helps customers locate your business or understand what your business offers.
- Marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs are not valid descriptors.
- Examples of acceptable titles with descriptors (in italics for demonstration purposes) are “Starbucks Downtown” or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant”. Examples that would not be accepted would be “#1 Seattle Plumbing”, “Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery” or “Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas”.
Tip#3 Clean-up any Duplicate Online Listings
Before you start making any new listings, make sure to claim existing listings of your company. Instead of creating new ones, update these accounts to be consistent with your branding and organisation’s information. This will not only give you the benefit of saving time and effort in creating a new listing, but it will also help search engine’s index and display your information faster as well.
Tip#4 Verify your listings
It is very easy to create a fictional local business online. In order to improve your search ranking, do not just create or update your business listings, make it an ‘official page’ by verification. This will not only give your local business credibility with search engines but to your customers as well.
Verifying your Business with Facebook:
- Click Settings at the top of your Page
- From General, click Page Verification
- Click Verify this Page, then click Get Started
- Enter a publicly listed phone number for your business, your country and language
- Click Call Me Now to allow Facebook to call you with a verification code
- Enter the 4-digit verification code and click Continue
Verify your local business with Google:
- Go to https://plus.google.com/dashboard and click Manage this pageon the page you’d like to verify.
- Click Verify your business beneath your address.
- Check that the contact information is correct. You can also address the postcard to a specific person by adding a name to the Optional contact name field.
More info on Google Verification: https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?hl=en
The Next Step: Engagement
Do not let your geographic location limit your online engagement and growth.
Once you have created your business listings, take it a step further by regularly posting relevant, entertaining or informational content for your customers. While having a simple listing is enough to help promote your local business, regularly updating your pages/listings with content will help you build brand awareness and possibly increase your customer base. A simple post can tell people that you are active and, it will open up venues for them to engage with your local business.