"How do I get my business to show up higher in local search results?"
This is one of the most common questions I hear from small business owners venturing into the search marketing frontier. David Mihm's local search ranking factors gives us a good picture of what factors are important for local search optimization.
I've discussed the first two factors extensively: (1) the importance of having a correct address on both your listings and your website and (2) the importance of verifying your listings. The third factor on the list, however, is one that is often overlooked and can have a tremendous influence on how your business performs in local search: categories.
In order to understand why you might need to correct the categories that your business is listed under you need to understand why your business might be mis-categorized.
The main reason for mis-categorization is due to the way directories and search engines obtain business information. Before companies like Yext gave small businesses control over their business listings, directories and search engines relied on data aggregators like InfoUSA and Acxiom for their business information. These aggregators often rely on crowd-sourcing or a business's own website to find business information, but these methods have their flaws as well. It seems obvious that business owners themselves would be the best resource for information pertaining to their business, but barely 50% of small businesses even have websites.
Making sure that you are listed in all the relevant categories to your business is the best way to tell search engines and directories when to show you in their results.
Before you start worrying about proper categorization, you'll need to see if your business is even listed for any categories at all. You can check to see if your business listings are categorized on our network partner's sites here.
In order for your business to show up for specific queries you need to make sure that you're allowing search engines and directories to understand your business in as much detail as possible. There are a number of ways that categories can help you accomplish this objective. Using multiple categories, custom categories, and categories that accurately define your business will not only help your business get found but also help users find exactly what they're looking for.
Have you recently changed the categories on your business listings? Did you notice a significant change in your search engine ranking or traffic from that directory? Let us know in the comments below.