Check out our HowTo on Google Local Listings for more information on how to get listed.
The world of printed Yellow Pages is dying fast. Now-a-days, most of your target customers will search for your services on popular search engines. Google continuously works to improve their relevance in local search by emphasizing local business listings tagged in different industries. For example, a quick search for “lawyers in edmonton” will yield a listing of Law Practices in Edmonton (see below) with a Google Maps display to the left. This is prime real-estate on the search results page, and ranking highly in this area can significantly boost traffic to your site. Better yet, the people visiting via local search are highly qualified prospects with good potential to convert to customers. Don’t miss out on this traffic; if you haven’t already done so, you need to (at the very least) claim your Google Listing today. Then, an ongoing SEO effort will also help you appear higher in this important list.
Claim Your Listing Now!
If Google Local already has a record of your business, claim it – if it doesn’t add it. Just like your brand, it is important to ensure you own your listings to prevent competitors from using it to their advantage. Further, you want to ensure the data is up-to-date (current address, phone number, etc.) and accurately reflects the contact information for your business. It does involve a little creativity in copywriting and some thought into what keywords best describe your industry, but otherwise, the process is very straight forward. Whether you are claiming or adding a listing, visit Google Local Business Center and click the “Add new business” button to get your business showing on Google Maps. We also have a tutorial for setting up your Google listings here.
Reviews Reviews Reviews
Google Local Listings supports customer reviews and displays this information publicly. You should encourage your customers to go online and write honest reviews about your business. (WARNING: Do not create multiple accounts and give yourself glowing reviews. In the long run, this doesn’t help you at all (Google knows everything!), and, what’s worse, it will hurt trust and confidence in your business if/when you’re discovered.) Getting reviews will help you on two levels:
- Google is more likely to rank you higher on the local listings because of your reviews
- Potential customers are more likely to click to learn more because they are able to see the great things other people have said about you.
So how do you get more reviews. Ask your customers to write them! You’ve got to ask to get anything. You could also consider some incentive to write reviews, e.g. coupons & discounts, rewards, etc.
Link To Your Listing
Just like any other page on the internet, the link strength (i.e. the number and reputation of websites linking to your page) greatly determines your position on the local listings. This is especially true for highly competitive local search terms. You should, at the very least link to your listings page from your website’s contact page. Depending on local competition, you should consider a link-building campaign for your listings page.
Localize Your Address
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but local listings are governed by proximity of your business address to the search term. While some people will search for a product or service near a postal code, most people will merely search for products/services near a city, e.g. “Lawyers in Edmonton”. Google translates the city (e.g. Edmonton) to a location marker near the downtown-core. Therefore, when adding listings, after weighing the possible confusion it could cause your customers, you should consider the following:
- Add a listing for every possible address your business operates from. This improves the likelihood of getting listed because of your proximity to the search term.
- Consider getting a physical or mailing address located in the downtown core. This will improve your visibility in search terms that mention just the city.
WARNING: Do not submit multiple listings for the same address. Do not provide false details about your address in your listings. These two things will only damage your reputation and confuse your customers.
Analyse Your Traffic
Google Local Maps provides with its Local Listings an online traffic tool that helps identify the top keywords driving traffic through that local listings. Integrating these statistics with those from your website can prove very powerful in providing insights as to how best to optimize your listing and categories. It is important to always keep the data up-to-date and conduct ongoing SEO, even on a local listing.
Seek and Manage Other Listings
Google scours the web and other listings (e.g. 411.ca) sites for mention of your business to help determine your rank in local listings. If you are listed in the printed Yellow Pages, more than likely your business listing will appear in a variety of forms on many different sites that have imported the printed Yellow Pages. However, because these imports are usually automated, your listings will vary in content across all these sites.
From a customer perspective, as well as to improve ranking, it is important for you to unify the message and content on these different listings. You want to make sure all the listed address and contact details match exactly down to the street suffix (e.g. 10230 Jasper Ave NW vs. 10230 Jasper Ave).
Below are some of the major listings sites that you should claim. Some are free to claim, others require annual/one-time fees.
- Google Canada Local Listings
- Bing Canada Local Listings
- Yahoo Canada Local Listings
You should also actively seek out other relevant listings pages. You should examine what other websites in your industry are doing in different localities. With ongoing SEO, you will be able to monitor your and your competitors’ local listings (and the pages Google has attached to the listings), to be able to track down potential listings and directory sites applicable to your industry. See our soon to be released post on link building.
Although simple and straightforward, Google Local Listings offers a very powerful and free platform for you to advertise your website. You are given 100% control over the content of the listing, and with a few straightforward rules of thumb, you can get your site displayed prominently and start receiving many new qualified leads.
I am in complete agreement that local business listings are the way to go for any local business dependent upon the local consumer for their revenue. This is a good point in time in which the Internet is a good local marketing tool to be found on web searches and mobile searches.
What I am most concerned about are small and local businesses having to contend with multiple websites when it comes to their local listing. What I’m really talking about are “time resources”.
Afterall, there are over 60 websites in four different categories specifically geared towards local listings. How can a local or small business have the time resources to cover this space?
Even if you made a conscious decision to not manage all 60, there are well more than Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask. The space goes to Local.com (they went public), Yelp, Merchant Circle, and many others.
Consumers will be the ones deciding which of these local listing websites they will go and post their experience through consumer reviews. This adds to the burden that no one single local listing website will do the trick.
Something we recently read at KillerStartUps are companies that are offering a low cost service to update then manage these listings for companies. You can read about this at KillerStartUps here:
It is a changing world and the local business will benefit. There will be some adjustment to this space needed.
Good information from your post and hopefully varying opinions help give perspective.