At Yext, our goal is to help local businesses get found in local search. We have helped thousands of local businesses take control of their business listings and improve the results they see from local search engines. Although the algorithms that local search engines use to determine their results is unknown, there is a strong consensus about certain local search ranking factors that help determine a local business' position on the search engine results page. Below are the top five dos and don't for local business listing management, the first step for any business seeking effective local business marketing.
Top 5 Do's
1. Claim your profile
The biggest mistake a local business can make is to not be in control of their listings. Although it is possible to claim your listing on a few local search directories, there are a number of directories that do not allow individual businesses to claim their listings directly on their site, not to mention the amount of time it would take to claim your business listing on the dozens of local search engines and directories on the web. PowerListings allow a business to claim their local business listings on 30+ local search sites in a matter of minutes. You can see how your local business listings on all of these sites at once by checking your free local search scorecard.
2. Maintain a consistent NAP
Search engines use a number of different sources when determining the quality of a local search result. One signal for the quality of a local business is that their business information is consistent across the internet. Even minuscule differences like using "St." on one local business directory and "Street" on another can act as a negative signal to search engines. Once again, if you are unsure how your business listings appear online you can check your free local search scorecard.
3. Upload pictures
In order to be a successful local business marketer you need to share as much information as possible with potential customers. Pictures are a great way to allow searchers to get a feel for your business without actually visiting your physical location. These don't need to be professional quality photos but a few snapshots of your store and the different products that you have to offer can be a great online representation of your business.
4. Provide incentives
Incentives are a great way to improve your local business marketing and encourage clicks from potential customers. Offering a free consultation or 2 for 1 deals are just a couple of examples I've seen businesses use for effective local business marketing. PowerListings allows businesses to manage a special offer on all 30+ network partners in one convenient location.
5. Manage your reviews
Reviews act as a great quality signal to both local searchers and local search engines. Don't worry if your business has a few negative reviews. It would look fishy if every review for your company was 5-stars. Take the time to ask happy customers to leave a review for your business on one of your local business listings, and respond to any negative reviews that may get posted. Searchers will look past a negative review if they see that you are acting in every way possible to make up for a bad experience a customer may have had.
Top 5 Don'ts
1. Inconsistent NAP
I know I put consistent NAP in the Do's section, but this is such a crucial part of effective local business marketing that I wanted to mention it again. Incorrect name, address and phone number information can be devastating to a business' local search ranking.
2. Use a toll-free number
Using a toll-free telephone number makes it difficult for search engines to determine what locations your business is relevant for. In order to achieve the best local search results use a local land-line number for all of your business listings.
3. Use a P.O. Box for your address
Once again, this makes it difficult for the local search engines to determine what locations your business is relevant for. If you're a business that operates out of your home, you should use your home address as your business address. Otherwise, you should always use the physical address of your business even if you get your mail sent elsewhere.
4. Post dishonest reviews
Although you might be able to get away with it, search engines are getting better and better at detecting fake reviews. If your business is caught posting fake reviews you might be faced with a penalty that could plague your business' local search ranking for a long long time.
5. Change your business name
Don't attempt to rank for certain locations by adding a city or other keywords to the end of your business name. Local search engines are smart enough to determine your location without you "helping them out." Keeping your business name simple and consistent is the best way to obtain high quality results.
What other local business marketing tips have you found useful? Let us know in the comments below and make sure you check out how your business is listed across the internet using our free local search scorecard!