Instead of trying to sell you on our local SEO services,
Why don't we just teach you rank better so you can choose us to take you to the next level when you are ready.
Your local business listing visibility is important to getting customers through the door or to your store site. Local SEO is key to any business strategy whether you are a small business storefront or a multinational company. With most searchers turning to maps for where to eat or what to do, shouldn't you take up more of the local top search results impressions?
If you are like us finding a great place to eat is as simple as:
- Pulling up your phone
- Searching for the best local ...
- Arguing over what category to insert after local
- Rock paper scissors
- Winner chooses
- End up going with Thai food anyway
- Pick best rated result
The interesting thing to point out is: Who really picks out the best results to show on our maps? We are sure there are better Thai places out there but in local search the only results that matter, are the ones who shows up in local search.
We hear from a variety of clients who all ask a similar question.
How do I rank higher in local search?
However, the path to it seems difficult, a mystical path, or they do not have the time to learn and still run the business day-to-day. We will keep it simple so you can carry out some of the strategies yourself.
Free Local Business Listings
Free local listings are a great way to start to build your brand reputation and visibility.
You will hear from any reputable local SEO, NAP (Name, address, phone number). While link building is a key factor to any SEO campaign there are many free listing "gold standards" that every business should claim and utilize. Google My Business, Bing business, Yahoo, Brown Book to name a few and here are 50 more. All of which are a very important part of local SEO.
There are literally millions of sites you can list your business on.
And more are added daily.
So the real question is:
How do you know what local business citation sites to list on?
Simple answer is experience but for those who want a little more. Here is our process of reviewing a site for local link building and if we will utilize them.
Look at the backlink profile of the listing site.
Do a lot of spammy sites link to them. You can use a free but outdated backlink checker like Backlinkwatch (note that this tool has not been updated in a while so newer sites may not show up and still has links to buy links, which we do not recommend) or paid tools such as SemRush (they have a free trial) or SpyFu
Has the site been maintained?
- Look at some of the businesses listed. Some directories look outdated and full of questionable sites or no new businesses. (outdated doesn't always mean not valuable.)
- Broken links and pictures can indicate it has not been updated in a while.
- The footer copyright years have not been updated (not always a key indicator but something to consider)
- A quick search of google of the site can tell you what others have said about the site.
- Trust your gut. Sometimes a site looks promising but something holds you back. There is power in snap decisions. (There is a great book on the subject Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.)
Do they have a standard review process for all business listings?
- Most reputable sites will have a process to list, some require phone verification.
- A lot of listing sites have moved to a review fee. While it makes the cost of the citation higher the quality of the site is better. You get what you pay for. But do your research first because some "listing" sites hold no real value and you could have spent that fee elsewhere.
Do the profiles of the businesses on them seem to rank high for keyword searches?
- Pick some of the businesses and research locally what they show up for.
- Isearchfrom.com is great free tool for local search for areas outside your current location. This is one of the tools we use when we want to see what is happening locally in search but we are not located in the area. We can see what is happening locally in Tampa Florida while we are still in Minnesota.
Are your competitors listed on them?
- Competitor research is key.
There are still many local SEO signals that help you rank better.
With local search it still helps to have great on page SEO as well as technical SEO. (It helps the search engines know what your local listing should rank for). However, local search engine optimization does not fully focus on the same thing as a national search campaign may. How you appear in searches both in the search engines but also map services is the key focus.
Brand reputation management
Managing customer reviews across the listings is daunting in and of itself. Letting reviews go unanswered on a site you didn't know you had a review on can also hurt you. We are sure you have searched a business and saw a bad review show up in the search or worse yet an unclaimed listing with bad reviews.
What can happen if an owner does not claim their local Google listing or monitor their brand reputation?
In this case this is only one of many online issues (if you searched for them they have been locally hijacked and this isn't the only reviews that point to a tv show.)
How did it come to be a live listing?
- This listing was suggested by someone other than the owner.
- A large amount of fake reviews were placed there.
- A website was suggested as an edit (in this case it is for the Bates Hotel tv show).
- In this case the local listings across a large number of websites across the internet have been changed. Solidifying the listing take over.
What is unfortunate is the owner might not know this happened or they feel helpless to fix it.
How does this happen? In this case someone suggested the business be added then continued to suggest edits to change the listing.
Which leads to our next example.
Competitor Local Listing Sabotage
Another common issue that happens with Google My Business listings (Not limited to GMB but across all platforms) is competitor, angry customer, or spammer sabotage. A competitor will suggest and edit and the owner will never know the change took place. Worse yet they suggest the business is closed and your listing gets a permanently closed notice. There is a great article here to read about it from Moz.
Here is a great example from Eden Prairie, MN.
They are running ads but their listing is reported closed (They might want to switch their SEO/PPC company and consider our SEO/PPC services). This franchisee is trying to manage a store but someone decided to hurt their local SEO by reporting it closed.
The more locations you have or the higher in search you rank the more this becomes a problem. We have found franchises tend have more attempts to change a business location information due to the high brand visibility and diffused anger directed at the corporate face of the company. As well as competitors trying to move traffic away to their listing. However, it is important to remember local listing highjacking is not only limited to large businesses
How would you fix this?
It requires you, the owner (or SEO company) to:
- Claim the Google My Business (GMB) listing.
- Flag or respond to the fake or real reviews (unfortunately the process to get a review flagged and removed is not always the easiest or a sure thing that they will remove it. Some times you have to call support to plead your case and even then they may not remove it).
- Then research any false information that was placed on your listing to see if it has been placed anywhere else online. There are other listing sites that sometimes pick up your GMB or overzealous defacers may have changed other listings.
- Contact us and we will be happy to show you other ways that may help or walk you through the process.
Either way it is important to clean up the incorrect information if only for your customers who search for you.
Why should you hire a Local SEO company and what do they do?
- Besides ensuring you are listed on quality sites they make sure you are found when someone pulls up driving directions to your business in GPS devices, and other similar services.
- They make sure your information is correct across all digital areas. Nothing confuses a searcher more than conflicting information.
- They actively respond to reviews and build a review strategy with you so you can filter reviews before they are placed live. On some platforms we can actually catch a low review and assist with remediation before it ever makes it to the live review site. Which give us the opportunity to allow the customer feel heard and potentially turn it into a high rating. (Did you know that many businesses suffer from customers who were never customers or complete miscommunication which can stop those one star reviews. Similar named businesses deal with this commonly.)
- Improve on page SEO and optimize listings to show up higher in search. You want to dominate more of the results. It is important to remember that not only can your business website show up in search, but quality citations/reviews can as well.
- Manage brand reputation and make sure that you do not fall victim to competitors modifying your online business listings.
- Verifying that your service pages have the proper geo location markups.
- Save you time and money.
- As well as increasing your potential sales. (You have to close the sale, we can't do that for you.)