Local Search Marketing: A Few Do’s & Don’ts

As if organic search isn’t frustrating enough, there’s also the issue of local search aka those A through G map listings that show up within blended results. These listings are based on a different algorithm than normal search, although it’s often thought that the two influence each other.

Check out some resources as you’re working on creating or updating your business and don’t forget these important do’s and don’ts. Make sure to read carefully because one wrong move can seriously screw up your local listing!

Do’s
– Use a standard format of all your contact information, including business name, URL, phone number, address (using st. versus street or suite vs. # & etc.)
– Create only one listing for each physical location
– Use a real phone number (although it’s tempting to use an 800 or tracking number to track calls)
– Use the same information/format and claim other non-Google listings (Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, YellowPages etc.). Google often pulls information from these sources to create or validate your business listing
– Use the correct categories and optimize your descriptions, photos

Don’t
– Create multiple listings for a single physical location
– Use virtual offices and use  different information for different listings
– Hijack competitor listings with false information
– Post fake reviews for your business or solicit an unnatural amount of reviews during a short time period
– Let local search marketing “experts” control your local accounts. Some companies use tracking numbers that could jeopardize your listing and might not even give you logins if you eventually decide to discontinue their service. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for!

If you’re lucky enough to have just one real location, you don’t have much to worry about. It’s a problem once you move, have multiple locations, have listings that have merged with incorrect information. Local listings can be a pain but patience and consistency are the key to getting things figure out. Read more about troubleshooting for Places here.

Is Your Business Using Maps the Right Way?

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A website’s contact page is one of the most important things you can optimize. Many times, these pages aren’t properly optimized because let’s face it, how often do you see a company’s contact page/form in search engine results pages? Here are 2 ways you want to ensure maximum visibility and conversion:

Making it Easy for Humans
Having a map of your location shows that your business is real and tangible. Nowadays, virtual office spaces and other placeholder addresses are very common. The actual address of your physical storefront shows that you are a part of the community and a place that potential customers can check out if they please. Maps also have customer reviews and lead to your Google + Local business page. Even though this action leads them off-page, it helps provide credibility and trust.

Optimizing for Search Engines
We’ve talked about the importance of local citations before, so it’s no surprise that you can go the extra step and make your contact page more search engine friendly. Having a map shows a connection between your company and a physical location. Google also crawls other authoritative local listing sites and makes a connection to your address.  Using Schema.org’s code also helps search engines better read your address and categorize your business.

There’s nothing worse than landing on a contact page to find a generic form, an 800 number and a P.O. box address. If you have a real, physical location, it’s time to take advantage of that fact and differentiate yourself from competitors (especially in a field of professional services like SEO web design and internet marketing). And once again, don’t forget to optimize with maps!