So you recently started a business and now you want potential customers to find you on local search? If you have a couple of hours, this post can help you lay a foundation and you can build from there. It will show you the steps here, but it is important to remember that these are just the basics. Consider the following:
Getting set up for local search is actually easier— as in fewer complications— if you are a new business with no past history. Otherwise, years of being in business may build either a mountain or mole hill of misinformation that needs to be corrected. Your goal, of course, is consistently relaying accurate and timely information about your business to as many potential and credible entities as possible.
How strong is your website? That figures into local search strength— something you can continue to grow through SEO and link building. So, to reiterate, we are talking about the basics here and a foundation upon which you can build for higher visibility in local searches.
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Ready to learn the basics?
1.You’ll want to get on a Google business listing:It is important that you have a business website, which means that you should have set up Google Analytics on that site, and that requires establishing a Google account. If you have no Google account, you can remedy that by doing so now and, in turn, setting up your website with Google analytics. Google Search Console is also recommended, but that is not a must at this time. Here’s what you do. Set up your business at Google My Business, which you can find via a simple search. You will need to verify the business by postcard or phone, but they’ll walk you through the steps at the site.
TIP: Since you may need to fill out profiles elsewhere, I recommend copying all your answers to profile questions and pasting to a Word document. That means you won’t have to keep retyping your business information for other sources. Plus your profile must be consistent whatever the platform and name, address and phone must be exactly the same wherever reported.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to use as many classifications/categories as possible that apply to your business in any profile. It is imperative that your key business service is listed as primary.
TIP: Don’t get carried away with loading your business name and description with keywords. Keep it plain, simple and accurate at this juncture with your real name. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a sticky situation later.
2. Claim your business listing on Yelp: Yelp, like Google, gives your business a higher profile and following the same rules as previously cited, you’ll definitely need to get your Yelp listing claimed and published.
3. Claiming Bing: Do the same for Bing.
4. Google your own business specialty and target service area: Just do a basic search by typing in your business specialty and where you are doing business. For example, you are a home inspector in Manalapan.
5. Take note of the top listing in the search results by copying the name, address, and phone number to a word doc or Google doc for future use. Say the top listing is “Inspect It Neil LLC” and “street address” and “(732) 792-6687.” This example shows that there are service areas for business, which is the basis of local search. Copy the name of the street address. If there is no street address, use the name of the town.
6. Type in the name, address and phone (NAP) of the business above and do a Google search— “Inspect It Neil LLC” + “Manalapan” + “(732) 792-6687.“The quotation marks must be used. This should reveal the top Google listings in your business specialty and service area.
7. Now you evaluate the top search results and platforms, claiming your own listing in each. This should take up the remainder of your two hours, saving the final 10 minutes. Continuing this ongoing example, which change with time, the top listings are Manta, Buzzfile, and ypagesonline. Now you have the strongest business listings at the time you set up yours.
8. Now’s the time to solicit positive reviews:A positive customer review goes a long way. Ask satisfied customers for a review via an email template. Make it easy for them to rate you on Yelp and Google, once published, by copying links to these listings and emailing them to your customers. You may not get 100 percent response, but any positive customer reviews should improve local strength.
This primer on local search is, once again, just the basics on which to build, but it represents a big step in local placement. It should also be noted that there are companies, like Yext, that specialize in this set-up. Proceed cautiously because, in my opinion, you might later regret relying on such an association. If you want to set up for local search the right way, I’d recommend someone like me— a reputable SEO specialist near you. Many companies merely add duplicate listings on top of existing listings, and that can cause problems later. The same can be said of the strategy of creating listings with “mirror websites” and additional phone numbers. My advice is following the above steps rather that turning to Yext. You can even build your NAPs on your own after familiarizing yourself with the set-up or by hiring someone like me. As a reputable SEO specialist who understands the process and required formats, I have access to many reputable data providers who can make the most of your vital business information.