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.

What is SoLoMo and is Your Website Ready?

so-lo-mo

If there are 3 areas of online marketing you should concentrate on this year, these are it. If you don’t think your site is quite ready, you may be more prepared than you think!

Social – Focus on a few social networks that you can consistently update. You don’t want to be the website with dozens of social media publishing buttons. Instead, focus on quality over quantity. You’ll want to make sure that everything you post on your website is shareable and somehow linked back to your social media profiles. Remember, this isn’t just to be user-friendly, but search engines are paying more attention to these metrics as they play a factor in your search engine rankings.

Local – Paying more attention to local marketing means proper keyword research so that you use terms that are relevant to geographical areas. Additionally, you’ll want to encourage customer reviews and testimonials that will be linked and crawled from Google Places, Yelp, Yellow Pages and more. Remember, the goal isn’t to FAKE reviews… because it is totally noticeable as well as unacceptable. Instead, you might want to create a short, standard questionnaire to send to satisfied customers/clients. These blurbs will help boost your brand reputation without taking forever to complete.

Mobile – If it isn’t totally obvious by now, you need a mobile website! You can read more about some recent mobile trends here. With the growing trend of browsing the internet via phone and tablet, experts believe that mobile browsing will soon surpass desktop usage! If you’ve been wondering why mobile optimization is so popular, it’s because of the potential that you can claim. Google indexes the desktop and mobile version of your website separately, so that your results can differ depending on what device your customers are using. Take advantage of mobile SEO today before your competitors do!

Funny name aside, SoLoMo is going to be an important part of marketing goals for 2012. Make sure that your business is prepared before another year slips before your very eyes!

Bing’s New Portal for Your Local Business

Google has its Places and Bing now has its Business Portal.

If you’re looking for another effective (and free) way to enhance your local business’ online presence, you should take advantage of Bing’s new feature. Just like with Google or Yahoo, you can claim and verify your business listing online.

Social Media Links

Next, you can fill out all the details of your business. There’s all the usual things: hours, logo, services, photos but you can also add links to your social media profiles – which is pretty cool!

Mobile Options and Specialties

If you happen to own a restaurant, Bing has a feature that I’ve never seen before: optimizing a menu for mobile devices.
For any business owner, you can also go into more detail about what products and services you offer by choosing a category and adding specialties. The keywords you add here will help with your SEO efforts.

Promotions

And of course, no local listings should be complete without an option for promotions. With Bing Business Portal, you can add coupons and other special deals that will help bring traffic to your place of business.  You also have the extra option of promoting these deals in Bing search results, your business listing and even on your Facebook Page!

If you’re a local business owner and haven’t taken advantage of this free tool yet, what are you waiting for?

Your Local Search Optimization Checklist for Success

checklistWhen it comes to search engine optimization for small businesses, local search is more important than ever. If your content isn’t focused on geo-specific keywords, it’s time to follow this simple checklist that will help you succeed. Remember, this content spans across your website, blogs, and even social media profiles!

  1. Are you on Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp local listings? If not, get on that NOW! It’s free and fill out as much information as possible. Descriptions are a great place to sprinkle in some of your local keywords for that extra SEO boost.
  2. Get visual. How about some pictures of your place of business or neighborhood to spruce up your site or social profile? Adding visuals of your business and/or employees adds a personal touch to your products/services. It will also give your potential customers a chance to “meet” you.
  3. Emphasize your local loyalty. Wherever possible, be sure to include a local phone number with the area code for your location.  I’ve seen plenty of SEO and web design sites with 800 numbers, no physical address – essentially making it impossible to find out where they’re located. No thank you – next.
  4. Use the right keywords. And I can’t stress this one enough! You’ll want to be using relevant keywords to your business that have a good amount of traffic so that you can capture some of that volume. What’s the point of ranking #1 for a term that  only gets 100 or so hits a month? Another thing, be thorough when choosing your location keywords. Are we talking about Glendale, CA or Glendale, AZ?
  5. Track your results. For the more SEO-savvy, SEJ just came out with a helpful article about how to track your progress.

If you think these extra steps are time consuming, think again. Properly optimized content will be a valuable asset for your business in the long run. What are some of your favorite, easy tips for local search optimization?