If we look at changes that Google made to Search in 2013, it becomes obvious that local search and mobile marketing are now indispensable components of any successful marketing plan to improve the online visibility of a business. In effect, local search marketing is the process of employing what sometimes feels like an endless list of tactics to optimize your local profile. The success of a local search marketing strategy it seems is contingent upon two things: Proper timing and avoiding local SEO mistakes.
Proper Timing is Key
A big part of local search marketing is knowing where and when you need to create or claim a business listing. Online, there are many local directories and they constantly pull information from each other such that, at any one point in time, it is practically impossible to differentiate which directory is pulling what information from where. But there is a hierarchy that exists among the various local data providers and aggregators. This explains why if you are to create or claim a business listing, you would do well to start with the big shots and work your way through the one-way or two-way data streams they branch into.
1. Start with the Major Data Providers
Localeze, Acxiom and ExpressUpdateUSA, previously called infrogroup are what you call major data providers. Basically, major data providers are the local directories that supply all the search engines and other local directories with information. As such, these are the local directories you want to start with to create a complete local profile for your business. Verification is usually done via a confirmation email or by phone. After updating and claiming your business listing, it will be a couple of weeks before the search engines and other local directories pull your information from the major data providers and in turn update their record of your business information.
2. Next Stop: The Search Engines
After updating and verifying your business listing with the major data providers and waiting a little while (because you want to avoid creating duplicate and inaccurate profiles), the next stop is claiming your listing with the major search engines including:
- Google Places for Business
- Bing Business Portal, and
- Yahoo! Local
Once you verify your business listing by waiting for a postcard with a pin code or for an automated phone call, you can start updating the listing with photos, videos, work hours and so much more.
3. Finally, let’s Talk about the Lowest branch of Data Aggregators
Finally, niche, vertical and geo directories gather information and allow you to further explain your business. Services like Yext and GetListed can help you check for your business listing on the most known directories.
Clearly, proper timing is of vital importance when it comes to getting your local search marketing right. The more exact the citations of your business are across the various local directories, the more complete and prominent your local profile will be; something that Google has come to put a lot of stock into. Consistency is, of course, key so you want to pay particular attention to your name, address and phone number info on the different local directories and search engines.
Some Terrifying Local Search Marketing Mistakes
Businesses religiously optimize their listing on Google+ and a few other high profile local directories like TripAdvisor and Citysearch. Sadly though, for many businesses, that’s as far as they go but here is the thing: Google crawls thousands of sites that contain citations every day. You need to update your business listing on the directories that Google uses as data sources to build an understanding of the local web: the major data providers mentioned above.
With that said, a couple of years ago, Matt Cutts wrote in a post:
“If your company has a bunch of store locations, please don’t hide that information behind a search form or a POST. If you want your store pages to be found, it’s best to have a unique, easily crawlableurl for each store.”
This clearly means that businesses should maintain optimized location pages for each location.
Last but not least, people talk about businesses all the time, whether we are talking about regular customers or potential customers. Most often, the talking takes the form of a conversation that occurs online; a social media interaction or a review. For businesses, this is nothing but an opportunity to engage with potential buyers and it should not be ignored.