As a small business with a limited budget, you are probably looking for the best way to stretch you marketing dollars. Your online marketing plan needs to include the basics – like claiming your free listing on local search directories and updating it quarterly. Optimize your company’s listing on the search directories so when your customers are searching for your type of business on their computer or mobile device, you stand out above the rest. Since the listings are free, all you need to invest is your time and patience.
3 Search Directories to put on your Radar:
Go to each of these search engines and browse “your business name, city, state” and see what comes up. Each of these search engines offer free options besides address and phone number, so think beyond the “Yellow Pages” of contact information to what you can add that will help sell your products.
Why Claim my Business on Local Search?
- Be found easier when people are browsing from their mobile phone
- Verify, add and update contact information that customers may be looking for
- Promote your business (for free!) by adding photos, specials, products/services
- Monitor your reviews, ratings and respond if necessary
- Let search engines know your business is active online and to send more traffic your way
The difference between an unclaimed local search listing:
…and a claimed and optimized local search listing:
Now Claim, Complete, & Repeat.
1) Claim or create your local search profile –Make sure you already don’t have a listing by searching for your business. If a listing is started, edit the current listing instead of starting a new one. If you try to add a new one when another is already started, the search engine may just see the second listing as a duplicate and deny it.
2) Complete your profile – Make your listing engaging and include all information such as bio, phone numbers, location, hours, directions, and more. Stand out with photos, videos, and offers to show customers why they’ll want to choose you.
3) Pay attention to the maps – Each of the search engines have maps associated with them and assign a location to your address. Sometimes the map location is incorrect so make sure you verify it or “fix the incorrect marker location” within the map program. Most locations can be fixed, although there still seems to be some discrepancies with Google Maps on mobile phones when longitude and latitude locations are used.
4) Ask for ratings and reviews – Ratings and reviews are on most search directories, as well as others like Facebook, Yelp and Citysearch. Encourage (or ask!) your customers to share reviews on your listings to help build your reputation and referrals.
5) Retain and repeat – Now that you have the main search directories optimized with special content and testimonials, do the same with other smaller or industry-specific search directories. Be sure to have a system in place for keeping the search directories updated, at least quarterly.
With all search directories, you need to be patient because the process of getting the listing from Verified, to Pending, to Published can take weeks. They often require you to enter a PIN to confirm that you are authorized to make changes to the account. Usually they send you the PIN via an immediate phone call or snail mail.
As part of our Webmaster Checklists and Pro-Active Web Maintenance Series, we talked about:
- Login to WordPress daily to check for completed customer forms.
- Fix any broken links weekly.
- Write one blog post or website update weekly.
- Review your website statistics monthly and take action when needed.
- Review your local search visibility with Google, Bing & Yahoo quarterly.