Claiming and validating local listings on Google, Bing and Yahoo! can drive high-quality, targeted traffic and help your site rank higher within in local search results. It’s possible that unclaimed local listings can sometimes outrank claimed listings, however it is vital to claim your business profiles considering it gives you complete control of what is displayed to users and prevents someone else form claiming your profile and reputation.
Here are 6 ranking factors to consider when creating your local search business profiles:
1. Street Address: A business’s street address is one of the most important parameters for appearing in local search results and enabling consumers to locate their stores, but many businesses seem to be careless in correcting or adjusting them to function well online. There’s lots of variation that can happen in how addresses are written, and the top online mapping systems may not universally recognize the variations and pinpoint them identically.
In particular, streets which have both a North and South or East and West version are typically incorrectly interpreted by search engines and mapping systems, resulting in bad maps/directions. For instance, “2020 East Main Street may not be interpreted the same as “2020 Main Street East.
While a human user might see and interpret your address correctly, you should check to see if major online mapping systems like Mapquest, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and Bing Maps can pinpoint correctly as well. Mild correction or adjustment to how you write your address in each directory may ensure that maps and driving directions work.
Make sure to include as much accurate information as possible, including longitudinal and latitudinal data.
2. Business Name: While this element may seem straightforward, it’s possible for you to adjust your company name or name usage convention in such a way as to derive more natural referral traffic online. When you have keywords in your business name it will help improve ranking, but it is not necessary, or advised, to saturate listings with keywords.
For example, if you own a hamburger restaurant named Hodad’s and your local listing displays only “Hodad’s,” consider altering the listing to “Hodad’s Hamburger Restaurant.” Many people will use the keywords “hamburger restaurant” to search for this type of business.
3. Business Category: Make sure your business is categorized correctly. In many directories, millions of businesses have been automatically assigned to a category. Businesses should check to be sure they’re in the correct categories for their industry, and add multiple categories which are appropriate.
This ensures that the listing will come up for business type searches as much as possible. Select a few categories over time to see which ones positively influence your position and traffic.
4. Local Phone Number: The phone number is often the gateway between a consumer and your business, so naturally these must be correct. Local phone numbers build trust – both from customers, and from search engines. Often, businesses such as plumbers only have one service location but multiple local phone numbers to gain trust from small town customers, which they then forward to a singular call centre. ALWAYS use a local phone number as the main contact number in the format (123) 345-6789.
5. Citations: A citation is a reference to your local business. This reference includes your business name, address, phone number, and other relevant information to your business. Often times, citations will also include links back to your website, thus fueling your link building efforts and higher rankings in the SERPs.
The beautiful thing about citations is the fact that even if it doesn’t have a link back to your website, just the mention of your business, including exact matching data (address and phone number) will help you improve your local search marketing results. Citations build trust with the search engines and give your business a boost when it comes to ranking.
Citations can be references from big local directories all the way down to smaller more niche directories. Review your competitors and make an attempt to obtain citations from the same or related sources.
6. Reviews and Ratings: Reviews are more for human readers then they are for search engine metrics, but good reviews and ratings will have a positive effect on your local listing, and will encourage the click-through rate of your listing. Encourage clientele to submit reviews and reward them when they do.
Take time to fill out your local business profiles completely. Add business hours, payment options and craft a well-written description of your business. Add pictures, videos and list awards and achievements. Also, be sure the information on your local profiles is consistent across all directories to build trust with the search engines.
Following these tips, you should update and expand the data in your business profiles in all the major yellow pages, directories, and local search engines in order to maximize your online presence. Take advantage of the free advertising through all the business profile directories out there and you’ll start pulling your business ahead of the pack.
While often tedious to complete and validate, these efforts will more than pay for themselves in the form of quality local traffic.