Not only do local search profiles provide valuable, quality inbound links to your site, they can also rank individually in the search engines, increasing your brand presence. Local search profiles are also incredibly important for mobile search. When conducting a search on their smartphone, must consumers are looking for quick information like a phone number or address. They aren’t going to take the time to dig through your site to find that information. If you aren’t listed locally, you are missing out on connecting with your local audience. For businesses that rely on local foot traffic, not having a local search presence could spell disaster.
Here are 4 best practice tips for creating and developing local search profiles:
Claim your listing
Did you know that your business might already be listed in Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo! Local (the big three local search engines)? One of your customers might have listed your business for you a long time ago. Claim it as the owner and you’ll be able to add photos, videos, links and more. Plus, you’ll be able to see what kind of reviews are being posted and keep the information up to date. Bing and Google ask you to verify your ownership by either calling you at the number listed or sending a postcard with a verification pin to the business address.
Don’t rush it
I’ve had clients with upwards of 30 legitimate locations all around the country try to submit all their business offices at once only to have half of them rejected. To the search engines, it looked like my client was trying to spam the local search, even though all of their locations actually existed. If you need to list multiple locations, spread it out over a few months so the search engines don’t think you are trying to trick them and flag you as spam.
Fill them out completely
The more information you can put in your local search profiles, the better. Add videos, pictures, and hours of operation, payment options and so forth. You never know what piece of information a customer might be looking for. Bare minimum, you need your full address (including zip code!), a phone number and link to your main website.
Find niche locations to create a profile
Does your hometown have a business association? What about hyper-local search engines specific to your area like WickedLocal.com? Aside from the Big 3 search engines, places like YP.com, MerchantCircle, Yelp, and Local.com are all popular local search engines with their own unique audiences. The more places you can build a local profile, the greater audience you can position your business in front of.