Tag Archives: local business directory listings

10 Important Things to Know About Google and Local Business SEO

Local-SEO-ServicesSomehow, people have the mistaken impression that local search engine optimization no longer matters. It may be because Google has gotten so good at deriving the intent of searches that it automatically delivers local business results at the top of search pages when it guesses that the user is looking for a nearby business. Here’s the thing that some folks have forgotten – just because you don’t need to stuff your page titles full of longtail local keywords doesn’t mean you don’t have to optimize. Google still needs to figure out where a business is located if it’s going to come up when someone nearby does a search with local intent. It’s not that local SEO no longer matters – it’s that Google has gradually been considering other factors, like local business directory listings, when deciding whether and where to place a business in the search results. What should you know about local SEO? Here are 10 important facts about local business listings and local search for every local business owner.

Quality Is More Important than Quantity

The conventional wisdom used to be the more the better – more keywords, more links, more business directory listings. That’s no longer true – in fact, too much of anything could incur a penalty from Google. When it comes to local business directory listings, for example, a business is better off being listed in half a dozen highly regarded local business directories than in hundreds of them.

Readability Is More Important than Exactly Matching Keywords

Google is more impressed with content that’s easy to read than with whether or not a page has the exact keyword phrase that someone typed into the search engine. User experience is king these days. As long as the Google bots can find the relevant keywords in fairly close proximity on a web page, the page will probably show up in the search results. So, go ahead and throw in modifiers that make content easier for people to read. That’s what Google is looking for.

Local Business Directory Listings Are a Key Factor in Being Found

Despite some mixed messages about local business directories from a few years ago, Google still relies a great deal on local listings when deciding whether a business is close enough to count as local when someone does a search. It’s just not necessary to be listed in hundreds of directories. Instead, businesses should try to be included in the business directories that make the most sense for their business, and those, such as FindUsLocal.com, that will pay off in other ways.

What business directories make sense? That depends a great deal on the particular business and industry. The number one recommendation, of course, is to get listed in Google’s on Google My Business pages. That’s important for just about any local business or professional. Beyond that, a local directory like FindUsLocal.com provides added features and functionality that brings customers directly to their pages and local business listings, making them a good choice for most kinds of business. Finally, there are local business directories that focus on particular industries and professions – law directories for lawyers, for example, and sites like Angie’s List for contractors and other skilled labor professionals. Listings in professional directories should always include the same details that would be listed in any local business directory – correct name, address, telephone, email and hours of operation.

Inconsistencies in Directory Listings Will Hurt a Business

…in more ways than one. Inaccurate information in local business directory listings confuses the search engines – and potential customers. While Google is much better these days at reconciling differences in spelling and typos, inconsistent listings can be a signal that a company is no longer in business, or that other information may be inaccurate. Making sure that the business name, address and contact information is exactly the same across a broad range of business listings helps with branding and identity, as well as ensuring that customers don’t land on the wrong doorstep.

However, that doesn’t mean a business owner should devote lots of resources and money in hunting down every last local business directory. Some search engine optimization companies still try to sell “directory listing management,” promising to get a business listed in hundreds of USA local business directories and maintain the listings. Instead of chasing down obscure directories, business owners are better served by making sure their info is accurate in the databases of large data providers, such as Acxiom, Infogroup , and Localeze.

Customer Reviews Are Vitally Important

Customer reviews used to be a nice thing to have. These days, customer reviews are among the main drivers of new customers. People are more likely to trust a business or product that has good reviews from form customers. If they want a boost in customers walking through the door, small business should do everything they can to encourage existing customers to review their businesses online. Those reviews translate into more exposure and more customers.

While a business wants the majority of its reviews to be good or excellent, research has shown that potential customers actually trust businesses with one or two lukewarm reviews MORE than they do those with 100 percent five-star reviews. After all, no one is perfect. When the reviews are nothing but gold, customers may have a sneaking suspicion that they’re not all genuine – or worse, that the business owner deletes bad reviews.

Genuine Local Businesses Have an Advantage Over Huge National Chains

One of the biggest complaints most people had about using search engines to find local businesses was that those small, locally owned companies were often swept out of the search results by big retail and restaurant chains with equally big budgets. That’s no longer the case. In fact, since about 2014, Google has been working to lift up small businesses with one or just a few locations rather than featuring the local branch of a national big box store. In other words, Bob’s Plumbing is more likely to show up at the top of a search than RotoRooter.

Community Connections Matter

When local businesses band together and boost each other, they all benefit. Joining organizations like the local Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce builds connections that extend to online local search engine optimization. Among other things, many business organizations manage an online local business directory, adding an important local signal to the information that Google collects. In addition, business owners that do good works and interesting things in their communities often end up in the local press – good local publicity, and another Google citation for the business.

Directions Are Important

One sure way to make sure Google knows where a business is located is to include directions and a map on its website. It sounds like a no-brainer, but many websites neglect this single important detail. Google makes it easy to embed a Google map on any web page, but don’t stop with the map. Writing directions allows the website owner to mention local landmarks, neighborhoods and cross streets that are extremely valuable in the growing area of mobile search.

Mobile Optimization Is Growing in Importance

More and more people are using their mobile devices to search for local businesses. In 2015, Google started considering mobile-friendliness when ranking web pages. Websites that are optimized for mobile get about a 5% boost in organic traffic, according to one major online marketing company. Google isn’t the only one that appreciates a website that is easy to navigate on a mobile device, though – customers prefer them, too. And since it’s now incredibly easy to optimize for mobile, there’s really no excuse not to do it.

Social Media Signals Boost Search Engine Ranking AND Customer Engagement

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram changed the face of local business marketing in a huge way. Many smaller local businesses don’t even bother with a website of their own, especially in the early stages. Instead, they focus on building a social media presence, particularly on Facebook. Facebook business pages help Google determine the locale and popularity of small businesses, and often come up fairly high in the search results when people are searching for a business by name. Social media savvy businesses keep customers engaged by posting frequently to their pages on Facebook, tweeting to their customers and posting photos on Instagram. In addition, Facebook encourages user ratings and reviews for businesses, which becomes a handy source of reviews and testimonials that can be transferred to local business directory listings and business websites. Twitter and Facebook both make it easy to link back to business websites, blogs and local business directories, inspiring more traffic and more business.

These 10 tips for local business SEO barely scratch the surface of the research and tactics a business can use when creating a local search marketing strategy, but they do hit the high points. Any business that’s on point with these 10 items will be on target to be found by the customers that matter most – those who are close enough to use their services.

Converting Online Visitors to In-Store Customers Tips for Local Businesses

Online-Free-AdvertisingTRANSConversion is a marketing term that means turning contacts into customers. In terms of online local marketing, it refers specifically to how well various marketing strategies work to bring people into local businesses to spend their money. While there are obviously differences among different types of business, there are also some online marketing strategies that work especially well for businesses that rely on customers located in their immediate location. From online local business directories to social media strategies, these are seven top strategies for local businesses to use online.

Local Business Directories – Get Listed!

Okay – “get listed” is a bit deceptive. It suggests that business owners have to proactively apply to be listed in an online business directory. While this is true for some business directories, it’s not true for all. Let’s look at two very different types of local business directories – data-driven directories and submission local business directories.

Most local business directories draw their entries from large databases that use publicly available information to create the listings. These business directories will have generic business listings for nearly any officially registered business. A business owner doesn’t have to do anything to have an entry on this type of local business directory – but they’re also not worth much unless the business owner verifies their listing. In most cases, verifying or claiming a listing also gives the business owner the ability to edit the entry to provide up-to-date, accurate and expanded information.

In some communities, organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce or a Local First organization, compile their own local business listings. These local business listings are often confined to members of the organization, but some accept requests for inclusion from any business located in their geolocal area. These directories are often a section of the organization’s website, and they’re particularly valuable for two reasons: people visit them to find many different things, and they send a strong signal to search engines that a business actually has a local physical presence in a community.

There is a third kind of local business directory that is a sort of hybrid of the two. Like the automated directories, they draw their business entries from a publicly available database, and allow business owners to claim and update their listing. Like many submission-only directories, they provide extra services and features to entice website visitors to come by often.  One excellent example of this type of directory is FindUsLocal.com, which offers comprehensive local business listings for cities and towns across the country while offering special hyperlocal features that bring potential customers back to the site again and again.

Make Sure Your Local Business Directory Listings Are Accurate

That’s pretty self-explanatory, right? Here’s a simple way to do this – and it will only take a few minutes. Open a search engine and do a search for the business name and zip code. Skip over the business’ own website – which should be at the top of the page, right? – and scan the rest of the results. The name, address and phone number will probably be visible. If it’s all accurate, move on to the next page. Go four or five pages deep in the listings to find as many directory listings as possible. If there’s an error, click on the result and follow the directions to claim and edit the listing.

Write a Good, Short Business Description

Consider what draws people to choose this particular business over the competitors and feature those things in the description. This is where some simple market research comes in handy. Ask customers what they like, and listen when people talk about the business online or in person. Consider the services and products, and feature the ones that make that business unique. Hint: Online business reviews provide a LOT of marketing insight for free.

Pick Important Local Business Directory Listings to Optimize

Which local directories are important? Those that are important to search engines, such as their own directories and big name business directories, such as Yelp and YP, and those that people see, such as the city’s directory and sites like Find Us Local. Focus optimization efforts on those.

Upload a Picture. Or Three.

When it comes to online marketing, pictures are worth a lot more than a thousand words. When businesses don’t provide their own photos, their listings will either have no photo or a photo pulled from something like Google Earth. None of those photos are flattering.

Add Links to Websites and Social Media Profiles

Make sure that all business pages are connected. Add links to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profiles to the business website. Make sure the business website address is on each of the social media profiles. Add the most important of those links to the important local business directory listings.

Get Involved in the Community

Earned advertising is the best kind of public relations for any local business. Newspaper articles and posts on local blogs that mention the business are pure marketing gold.  A bicycle shop that sponsors a bike repair clinic for local kids, for example, can write about the event on their website, post it on their Facebook page, tweet about it to their followers and send out a press release to local media. That’s a lot of valuable publicity – and if the shop’s employees also share photos and videos from the day of the event, it carries double weight. The next time someone in their city searches for find us local bicycle shops, they’ve got a leg up on the competition.

These are a few of the easiest – and most basic – ways to get people off the Internet and into local shops, restaurants and businesses offices, but they lay the groundwork for all other types of online local business marketing. Get those business listings right before doing anything else to publicize the business, or risk sending potential customers to the wrong address!

Top Digital Marketing Tips to Bring More Customers to Your Local Business

Top-8-Digital-Marketing-Job-OpportunitiesIf your business relies on local foot traffic, you already know that traditional marketing methods are not enough. These days, even the smallest local business needs to have an online presence to be competitive with local and national businesses. What most small business owners don’t realize is that it’s much easier to build a robust online presence through the use of local business directory listings, social media platforms and mobile marketing. Not only that, these free online marketing strategies can give you a leg up on national chains that may be encroaching on your customer base.

Five Online Marketing Statistics You Should Know

Here’s why online marketing using smart digital marketing strategies is so important.

  1. More people use local searches to find products and services every year. Currently, about 88 percent of potential customers check online to find it before the set foot out the door.
  2. Mobile search is a growing trend. As cell phones and other devices become more ubiquitous, more and more people are using them to find what they’re looking for while they’re out. This is especially true of folks 40 and under, one of the most desirable marketing demographics of all.
  3. Approximately 75 percent of people who use their mobile devices to search for something visit a related local business within a day.
  4. More than a quarter of people who do a local search on their smart phones or mobile devices buy what they are looking for from a local merchant.
  5. Nearly two-thirds of consumers say they are looking for physical address, telephone numbers, or directions to a business when they do a search.

Now that you know, here are five ways to use that information to turn potential customers into people walking through your door with money in their pockets.

Take Advantage of Local Business Directory Listings

One of the quickest ways to boost your business’ online profile is to submit your business to a number of local business directories. While there are thousands of online business directories, you don’t have to list yourself on every single one – in many cases, your business is already listed. You do want to submit to a few major business directories and review sites, and claim your listing at several other local business directories, such as FindUsLocal.com, which allows you to customize your business listing and add more information to it.

Your listing on a local business directory is one of the prime sources of information about your business – hours of operation, telephone number, physical address, type of business. The more information you’re able to add to your listings, the more likely it is that you’ll show up when someone searches locally for the services or products you offer.  If you can include a photo of your business, make sure it’s an attractive, professional shot that shows off your exterior and/or your products to their best advantage. Since few businesses include photos, adding one or more is a sure way to make your business stand out among the search results.

Engage with Your Customers on Social Media

True story  – one of the quickest ways to create buzz about a new business is to launch a Facebook business page. For many very small businesses, a Facebook business page take the place of their own website, at least in the early stages. You can even include a link to your business’ Facebook page in most local business directory listings.

You don’t have to be an expert on social media to effectively promote your business that way. Start with a good header image – a photo of your business or your products are great! Add your contact details, and fill out the About section. If you do have a website, link to it. Add a post or two to your business timeline, and you’ve got a good start.

Once you’ve set up your business page, use your offline and online connections to start promoting yourself. Invite all of your friends to Like and Share your page – most will be delighted to help you get started. Here’s the thing – more than half of consumers say that when they see positive comments or praise about a business from people they know, or people in their community, they think more positively about it. And since Facebook allows users to post reviews to business pages, you’ve got a steady source of testimonials that you can use in other places, such as in your local business directory listings.

Of course, Facebook is only one of the social media platforms available to local businesses. Use the ones you’re most comfortable using and that best suit your business needs. Some local food trucks, for example, use Twitter to let customers know where their truck is headed next, and restaurants may use Instagram to post photos of today’s specials to entice hungry locals to drop by for a meal.

Whatever social media platforms you choose to focus on, make it a point to post regularly and to respond to customers who comment or post reviews. Research shows that consumers are far more likely to trust business owners who are engaged and responsive to their concerns and comments.

These are just a few ways that local business owners can boost their online profile, and use it to reach new and returning local customers. Even if you go no further than incorporating local business directory listings and social media engagement in your marketing strategies, you’ll see an increase in your bottom line.