Tag Archives: GEO location technology

Google Sent a Pigeon for Local Search Directory Listings and Here’s What It Means for Small Business

c94e30fedef1c09f34a958fc83674db9--pigeon-pictures-racing-pigeonsIt’s now been three years since Google released its much-discussed update, which focused on delivering the best local search results to its users. Dubbed Pigeon, the update shook up the local search results across nearly every type of business – to the benefit of genuine small local businesses, for the most part. It also reaffirmed the importance of local US business directory listings, reinstating them as an integral signal for Google’s search rankings. In the three years since, Pigeon has completely changed the landscape for local small biz marketing, with some of the early speculation proving true and other bits of advice turning out to be very wrong. And of course, as usual, Google has continued to build upon the original update, continually improving the chances for genuinely local businesses to show up in searches for local customers. Here’s how Pigeon changed online marketing for small businesses, and how they can best take advantage of it.

Local Businesses Have an Advantage Over Chains and Businesses with No Local Location

Before Pigeon, national chains and online-only businesses frequently took the top spots in online searches. The algorithm update refocused attention on small businesses with a local, physical address. The immediate effect was to dump many national franchise businesses right off the front page, and lift up restaurants, shops and business professionals with a real local presence. Unfortunately, it also provided an opening for non-local businesses to “fake” a local address by signing up with services that allowed anyone to register a “local” business at their address – some of them listing hundreds of businesses operating out of a small office. An update to Pigeon fixed that – now, businesses listed at an address with dozens of other addresses are penalized, leaving genuine small businesses to dominate the top of the search results for local searches.

That experience also apparently reminded Google about the importance of other geographical signals when trying to determine the credibility of a local company. Among other things, being listed in local business directories took on more importance, especially those that actually verify the business address. It also increased the importance of other factors, including social media presence, onsite local keywords, and local links.

Pigeons Focus More on Neighborhoods than Cities

Since the Pigeon update, Google looks much deeper for local connections when coming up with search results. With the growing importance of geo-location services in browsers and mobile devices, search engine results are likely to feature businesses within just a mile or two – or even a block – of the searcher’s location.  Because of this, most experts now recommend that business owners make a point of adding themselves across multiple neighborhoods, towns and cities when creating local business directory listings for local marketing and advertising. This is particularly important if they’re trying to expand their market base into neighboring communities and geographical areas.

Customer Reviews Are Vital to High Rankings

More than ever, people rely on customer reviews to decide whether or not to patronize a local business – and Google follows suit. Businesses with more reviews – and better reviews – are more likely to take those coveted higher spots in the search engine results. Creating a business listing in a local directory that allows customers to leave reviews adds a little extra oomph to nudge a company higher in the search results and help them get found. Savvy business owners do whatever they can to encourage customers to leave reviews and thank those who do.

Incoming and Outgoing Links Are Both Important

When it comes to link building, more is not always better, but too few is no help at all. Social media and customer reviews have made it easier than ever to get incoming links to business websites. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media profiles can all provide a link to a business’ own website – especially when customers post reviews, and share posts from the business to their own friends and followers. Links from major business directories and review sites are among the most important, but it’s also vital to have listings in directories compiled by local organizations and in business directories that offer a user experience that keeps people coming back. FindUsLocal.com, for example, offers lots of reasons for local customers to visit daily – upcoming local concerts, sporting events and theater listings, local weather, the latest local tweets and even the latest business reviews and comments left for local businesses by customers.

As Google’s Pigeon enters its third year, it’s clear that the update accomplished a good deal of its intent. Businesses that pay attention to their local SEO, getting good business reviews and optimizing their local business directory listings reap the benefits of higher search engine rankings and more customers visiting them more often.

Increase Your Online Visibility with Your Local Business Directory Listing

sales-growthIf you’re a small business that relies on a local customer base, you already know that online visibility is vital to bringing those customers through your doors. In just a few short years, the entire world of small business marketing has turned topsy-turvy. Tried and true methods of promoting your business no longer deliver the results they did just 15 to 20 years ago. Local newspapers, which used to be the mainstay for local business advertising, have largely gone out of business or been gobbled up by enormous national media companies. The few local papers that remain have ever-decreasing circulation numbers – and advertising in the bigger newspapers is cost-prohibitive for most smaller businesses. Even the most basic of all local business advertising venues, the local phone directory, is little help. More and more households are opting out of land line phone service, and fewer and fewer even have a phone book in the house.

Today’s small business owners know that if they’re going to be competitive, they need to have an online footprint that makes it easy for potential customers to find them. It’s not enough to just create a website when you’re looking for local customers. The Internet is huge, and your business is competing with dozens, hundreds, thousands of other people offering the same products and services, and many of them have very deep pockets when it comes for paying for advertising. When you’re operating with a limited online advertising budget, you have to get strategic. One very effective strategy is to use local online business directories to increase your online visibility and your chances of being found by customers in your immediate geographic area. Here are five strategies that will help you attract more customers using an online business directory like FindUsLocal.com.

Inbound Links Increase the Visibility and Credibility of Your Website

First things first. It’s not absolutely necessary to have a website, but local businesses with websites are easier to find.  It’s most effective to have a Web address that matches your business name, and a .com extension is still the easiest for most people to remember. On the other hand, ICANN – the authority that assigns domain names – has recently released a slew of new top level domains (TLDs), making it easier than ever to customize a business domain name that’s easy to remember. Whatever domain name you choose, though, your website should display, at the very least, your business contact information, including your address, telephone number and hours of operation. A professional website is the linchpin of your online marketing strategy, and the only piece of online real estate where you control every piece of content.

However, even the perfect website is just a pretty page if your customers can’t find it. That’s where online business directory listings come in. When people in your area search for someone to trim their trees, deliver Chinese food or take photos at their wedding, they’ll usually start their search on Google or another search engine. One of the major factors the search engine algorithm considers is how many other reliable, well-known websites link to your business website. Listing your business in a local business directory serving your city – or in several – increases the chances that your customers will see your website when they do a search for a business nearby to fulfill their needs.

List Your Business in the Right Categories

An online business directory doesn’t just provide an alphabetical list of businesses in your city. That would be pretty useless, right? Get listed in business directories that allow you to choose the categories in which your business is listed. Think about the various services your business provides, and list yourself under as many categories as apply. If you’re a photographer, for example, you’d obviously list yourself under Photographers, but don’t stop there. Do you do event shoots? Weddings? Graduation photos? Family portraits? List yourself under Wedding Services and Event Services. If you’ve done photos for real estate listings or catalogs, list yourself under Advertising and Real Estate. Each of those categories will generate another inbound link to your business website – and make sure that you’re not overlooked when customers are looking for a service you provide.

While you’re at it, make sure you list your business in all the towns and surrounding areas that your business serves. It only makes sense to let customers in outlying areas know that you want their business, too.

Use Multiple Directories

There are dozens of local business directory websites around. Most are pretty basic – even those that routinely come up at the top of the search engine listings. It’s still to your benefit to “claim” your business listing on those. Claiming your listing is nearly always free, and it allows you to make sure all the information about your business is accurate. That’s important, because even small inaccuracies – an outdated telephone number, for example – can damage your business’ online credibility. If you can add a link to your website or social media profiles, all the better. You’ll gain a citation and an inbound link.

Get the Perks of Geo-Location Services

Save your real effort for a local business directory that offers you extra benefits. Some directories are more than just directories – they also serve as online portals where people can get local news, learn about upcoming events in their area, and follow interesting local people and businesses. FindUsLocal.com excels at this type of personalized landing page, encouraging people to drop by their site frequently to check in on local happenings. The people who are most likely to walk through your door are more likely to see your business listing on a site they visit frequently.

Capitalize on Reviews

More than ever, people rely on reviews from former customers to help them decide which business to call when they’re ready to buy. Listing your business on a local business directory that allows customers to leave reviews gives you one more boost in the online marketplace. Encourage your customers to drop by your business listing and leave a review, and if you can, add links to other positive reviews in comments on your own listing. Good reviews will help convince potential customers to visit your website or call your business instead of your competitors.