Local SEO (search engine optimization) is something that small businesses get confused about. A part of this confusion is due to the messages they receive regarding how they should be marketing their business. How can you use local directory listings to improve local SEO?
As I work with small businesses to increase their visibility online and sort through the complexities of Internet Marketing, I share with them the importance of being engaged in online marketing. You may also read articles like this one, Small Business Must Grasp Online Marketing, which highlights why and how you should market your business online using blogging, article marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, etc.
At the same time, many small business owners wonder if this means they should no longer engage in local (offline) marketing strategies. The truth is that you need to do both types of marketing — online and offline marketing strategies
The first thing to note is that small businesses cover not only brick and mortar businesses, but also entrepreneurs who have diverse types of businesses. Since your customers and prospects are online, you must have a strong online presence. Whether you’re a coach, a speaker, an author, a Direct Sales representative, etc.; as long as you are in business in the 21st century, you must have an active online presence.
Local directory listings should not be ignored. In fact, one of the key components in getting foot traffic in the door of your small business is using these local directory listings. What are local directory listings?
Two of the largest local listing directories, and also most popular, that your business should be on are run by Google. Google is in charge of Google+ Businesses / Google+ Local. Other popular local listing sites include CitySearch, Bing Local, Merchant Circle, Manta and Yahoo Local Listings. You also want to make sure that you create a Yelp profile in your area. You may be wondering why this is so important since you may already have, say, a Facebook Profile and Facebook Page.
Being found in local directories’ listing serve three basic purposes, all of which are essential to your local business.
- Local SEO: Your listing can be generic, like “Pediatric Dentist”. However, when someone in your area is looking for a Pediatric Dentist, it’s hardly likely they’ll find you as Google results will bring up millions of Pediatric Dentists. If, on the other hand, you are listed as “Port St. Lucie Pediatric Dentist,” when someone in Port St. Lucie and environs type that in, the numbers will be much smaller and allow your practice to be found more easily.
- Google Rankings/Results: Most of the local directories have already established high rankings in the search engine results. For example, at the time of writing MerchantCircle.com is ranked #2,831 in the world and #810 in the United States. Yelp is ranked #140 in the world and #80 in the United States. By having a listing on these directories, you’re ‘borrowing’ their rankings plus increasing the number of places you can be found online.
- Reputation Management: Online reputation management has become an important issue for all businesses, but especially for the small business owner who may not have a lot of resources to monitor and manage their online reputation. In addition, by having an active online presence with a well-developed personal brand, this will help to buffer any negative comments that could affect your online reputation.
Operating a business in this economy means that you want to make it easy for your prospects or ideal customers to find you. Taking advantage of local directory listings will help with search engine optimization for your name and the name of your business and provide more channels for people to find you and do business with you.
Do you have specific questions on how to market your business online? Go ahead and fill out the questionnaire and I’ll contact you to schedule your complimentary Business Breakthrough Strategy Session.