When people want to find a business, they go online and search. Whether you sell a product or a complex, high dollar service, that’s just how it’s done these days.
For marketers, this means they must be very, very focused on winning searches that are done with the intent of finding something local – this includes showing up in mobile browsers and on maps.
Below are fives areas that you should address to increase your chances of winning the local search game.
Do it now, before your competitors do.
If you work through each section and apply a few action steps each day, you’ll gradually accomplish the entire list and put your business on its way to building a strong local search presence.
1. Make your web pages scream local
There are many ways to make your website pages localized. This is one of the underlying elements that tell the search engines that yours is indeed a local business.
Here are a few steps to consider:
- Add your physical address to every page
- Add city names in navigation: i.e. Omaha Kitchen remodeling showcase
- Add suburb and neighborhood names into your content in natural ways
- Add a local event blog and list festivals and non-profit events
- Find relevant local bloggers using a tool like placeblogger to exchange links with
- Do keyword research with local terms to find the best phrases to add to your pages (Google Keyword Tool or Wordtracker are good resources)
2. Claim and enhance your local search profiles
The local search directories at Google, Yahoo and Bing want you to claim and build rich information for local profiles. This makes their job easier when people search for local businesses.
If you haven’t done it yet, go here now:
Another local search directory to pay attention to is Google Mobile Search. This is a separate directory with a great deal of cross over, but is the tool that mobile users access when they type coffee into Google Maps on a smart phone – yet another reason to make sure your listing is complete and up-to-date in Google Maps.
In each case, you will need to claim your profile by various means. After you complete this step you will be given the opportunity to enhance your profile with the appropriate business category, hours or operation, forms of payment, area served and brands carried.
3. Participate in the ratings and review game
Lots of local business directories exist with the added feature of user ratings and reviews. If you’re not paying attention to the major sites and monitoring what’s being said, you may be losing business because of one poor review.
Your action step here is to claim and enhance your profiles in each of these directories and start engaging your customers in ways that actively stimulate reviews.
Here are the primary review sites to check out, although many industries also feature rating and review sites:
4. Update your listings and citations
Citations are mentions of your business and address that appear on other websites. These are a key component of the ranking algorithms because they help assure your business is truly local.
The listings you completed in the previous steps help in this category, but now it’s time to go even deeper.
The following companies pull data from print versions of white and yellow pages and provide a great deal of core data to local directories. While it is likely that your business is listed in these directories it is a good idea to check for accuracy and add details that may not be listed.
Getting listed consistently across the following Internet Yellow Page providers will also help with your local listing.
Two good sources of information for this topic are GetListed.org and Universal Business Listing (this site offers a service that will get you listed in numerous online directories and portals that are used by many applications and tools). It might be the best $30 a year you spend.
5. Own a social network topic group
One powerful local play, and perhaps a good strategy to get some extra local links, is to start a local niche group and build a community of users around the local theme on social media sites such as Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp or Biznik.
If you can find an area of interest to others, you might be able to build a useful and vibrant local tool while greatly enhancing your own local presence.
Here’s a good example: The Boston Networking Club on LinkedIn was founded by Jeff Popkin, owner of BostonEventGuide.com. With over 5,000 members, there’s a pretty good bet this group serves as a conduit for Popin’s main business locally.
Every little bit counts in this very important and increasingly competitive world of local search.
Image credit: garryknight
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network.