If you are in business today, your company has probably been mentioned on the Internet a few thousand times without you ever doing anything. However, understanding how this happens and how you can use it to promote your business even further will go a long way to boosting sales and expanding your business.
Most search engines today rely on local business directories to offer information about local businesses that they can use to assist customers in your area find businesses that offer what they are looking for. Odds are that you have a business directory listing in one or more of these local business directories, even without submitting it yourself. Unfortunately, if you haven’t been involved, the information may be stale or simply wrong. However, the good news is that it is easy (and free) to claim these listings, update the information and give your business a huge bump in visibility.
Your NAP, or your name, address, and phone number, is one of the most important things to have correctly listed. It’s the only way customers will be able to discover who you are and how to find you. In order to maximize the benefit you get from having multiple local online profiles is to ensure that your NAP is consistent across all your profiles as well as on your own website. Having a different name, address, or phone number come up during a search will confuse your customers as well as search engine databases, who will treat each listing as a different business.
So, before you begin claiming local business directory profiles, it is important to identify the proper NAP information and ensure that each page of your website has the same information contained in the footer.
Next, it’s time to Google yourself, or at least your business. You will want to see where your business is already listed and begin claiming and updated these profiles first. Odds are, you will find your business listed on sites like Yelp, Manta, Yellow Pages, Foursquare and others first. Complete each profile completely and carefully, ensuring that each shows the same NAP that you have added to the footer of each of your web pages. Consistency in branding is key.
Next, you can take ownership of or add directory listings to sites like Google Places, Bing Maps and Yahoo Places. As before, make sure that each profile is completed completely as well as using the same NAP information as all of the sites above.
Wherever possible, make sure that you add pictures or videos of your business that show the name, address or other geographical marker that will help you boost local visibility. Not only do search engines treat directory listings with multimedia as more important than those that don’t, it will only serve to reinforce your location with search engines and readers.
Keep tabs on the sites where you have directory listings so that if/when things change with your business meaning you move or change phone numbers or even change or add a new URL for your business, you can update all of your business directory profiles immediately. Keeping these listings fresh and up to date is the key to making them work for your business.
There you have it. The key to local SEO is to find and complete your local directory profiles, be consistent in the information you offer and take ownership wherever you can. Taking these steps will significantly impact the amount of customers that find your website and even find their way to your doorstep.