I am often asked by new business owners what they need to do to get out there on local search. With this in mind I wanted to provide a how to for the basics of local search setup. Take 2 hours and follow the steps below and you will at least have the basic groundwork done and can grow from there. A few things to keep in mind however.
- This is the basics. Local search involves getting your business information out to as many reputable places known as citations as possible and with consistency. Businesses that have been around a while and may have inconsistent information out there, have more work to do. You need to correct the misinformation out there.
- Local search strength also relies on the strength of the website attached to your listing so you still want to grow your strength with SEO programs and link building, but this will at least get the basics done, and in some cases, this may get you to start showing up in local searches.
OK, so lets get started.
- Claim your Google business listing: If your business has a website, which it should, you should already have a Google account that you used to set up your Google analytics on your website, which you should have done. If not, you can create a Google account as you go through this step, and you should then also set up analytics on your site, as well as Google Search Console, but that is another post. Go to Google My Business and find or set up your business. This will require a postcard verification or phone verification at the business to get published, but the steps are pretty easy to follow.
- TIP: Copy and Paste your answers to all of the profile questions in to a word document so you can use them as you fill out your profiles in other places. It is crucial that your name, address, and phone match exactly across platforms, but it is also more convenient to not have to keep typing your business description, etc. over and over again.
- TIP: In any profile, add as many business classifications or categories as are relevant to your business, but make sure the primary is the core business service or offering.
- TIP: Don’t try to outsmart the system by making your business name something loaded with keywords. Use your real name, it will save you from getting in trouble down the road.
- Claim your Yelp business listing: Much like Google, Yelp is an important spot for your business to be listed. The same rules hold true here and it is important to make sure you get this claimed and published as well. You can search for or enter your business here.
- Bing: Do the same for Bing.
- Do a Google search for your business and your ideal local target. If you are a home inspector in Manalapan, type in “home inspector” or whatever is relevant to your business.
- Note and copy the name, address, and phone number of the top listing here to a word doc or google doc where you can use it again. For example, in the listing above, we have “Inspect It Neil LLC” and “street address” and “(732) 792-6687“. I use this example to also show that in businesses that are service area businesses, the street address may not be shown. In this case, you can just use the town name. If the street address is available, copy just the street address, for example “123 Main St.”
- Now do a Google search with the three elements of the business NAP (name, address, phone) above. In this case, “Inspect It Neil LLC” + “Manalapan” + “(732) 792-6687“. Make sure you leave the quotation marks. This will bring up the top strongest listings in Google that this business is listed in.
- For the rest of your two hours (leave about ten minutes at the end), go down through the search results and claim your own business listing in each of these platforms. For this example at the time I write this, the top listings are Manta, Buzzfile, and ypagesonline, but these will change over time. This method makes sure you get the most powerful listings at the time you set up your listing.
- Bake reviews in to your process: Reviews are also an important factor. Create an email template to send out to your happy customers asking them to review your business. Once you have your Google and Yelp listings published, copy the links to those listings and put them in the email so your customer has an easy way to go leave a review. Of course, they won’t all do this, but if you put it in your process, some will, and this will lead to improved local strength.
Now again I like to repeat that this is just the basics but it will go a long way in helping you get local placement. I would also say that though there are many high pressure sales companies like Yext out there offering to do this for you, I find that these often leave you in worse shape down the road. If you do need help setting all of this up the right way, find a reputable local SEO person, like me, to help you out. It is important that you own your listings and don’t just create a bunch of duplicate listings over top of the existing listings, which many of these other companies do, hurting you down the road. Some also will create listings with different phone numbers or mirror websites that also can get you in trouble down the road. I would recommend following the above steps over hiring Yext. If you want to start building up your NAPS, even more, you can either DIY by going further down that list or hiring someone like me that has access to spread your info out to hundreds of other reputable data providers in the proper format.
To learn more about local search and how you can help yourself or clean up a mess that was left for you by one of these canned local providers, feel free to give us a call.