Last week we looked at using local directories to market your small business, getting your online marketing off to a good start.
This was the first step of your online marketing priorities.
Whilst searching for appropriate websites to list your business you will probably have seen results like those shown below in this screenshot from Google:
Or theses from Bing:
Both of these result types dominate search at a local level. Driven by the end users use of a location name in their search phrase, or other criteria used by the engines to determine an end users location.
In a web browser these results take prime position, on a mobile they dominate, and even offer the ability to call businesses direct from the results.
To obtain a competing position on the home page of search either means using paid search or spending time on search engine optimisation. As an new business leveraging natural search can take time, money and effort and paid search can use precious budget.
The easier method is to list your business with Google Places and Bing Local directly. Google accounts for around 90% of search traffic, and should be the priority. But the Bing listing is also free so there is no reason you should not use it.
The first step is to claim or create your free business listing.
Do a search for your business, if it doesn’t appear in the results visit Google Places, login or create a new Google account.
If it does appear, click on the Google+ Page link.
This will take you to the Google+ Local page for the listing.
So although your listing appears on Google+ Local, currently you manage your listing in Google Places.
On the Google+ Local page click on the “manage this page” link as shown below.
From here follow the instructions to add or edit your business listing.
Optimising Your Listing
1. Add your official business name.
Don’t try to be clever by adding the town or city name or other keywords. If they are not part of your registered company name, Google may reject your listing.
2. Add contact information
Complete this section as fully as possible, including your website address if you have one. Your phone number is very important, as on a mobile device Google enables end users to make a call direct from the results when it is included.
3. Use relevant categories
Add all the categories that apply to your business. The use of locations is not allowed but ensure you describe what you do rather than just the products or services.
4. Add a description
Write efficiently but accurately, you have limited space. Avoid keyword stuffing and write naturally.
5. Images and Video
One of the enhancements you can make to your listing is the addition of images and video. Whilst these have no SEO benefit they may increase click through or call rates.
6. Encourage reviews
You should actively encourage customers to leave a review on your listing. Reviews have a positive effective on your ranking within the local results.
You can also add opening times, payment types and parking options. Once you have completed your details you will then need to verify changes or additions.
For minor changes an automated call is made by Google to the telephone number in the listing which will deliver an authorisation code. Changes to the company name or for new listings verification is performed via a code sent by post.
This can take up to 3 weeks, which is why you should add your listing ASAP.
Although Bing doesn’t see as much traffic in most countries as Google, it is still worth listing as other 3rd party services do draw on the search results for their own listings.
Google isn’t the only one in transition when it comes to local, it seems Bing are trialling service options too.
Prime Place is primarily for managing merchant data into the worlds largest map data provider, formerly Navteq/Nokia – now HERE, which exposes business information to a huge group of Navteq/Nokia/HERE customers and their end users, for maps/drive/citylens/…on Nokia devices.
Set up is pretty much the same as described for Google and again verification is either by post or phone. With the postal option taking a few weeks to complete.
Maximise Your Marketing Reach
Taking time to complete these few steps early on can really help boost your reach. As you progress further down the marketing priorities for you small business you will want to come back to these listings and update them. Adding a website address when you have one will assist in search rankings. Keeping images and video up to date will ensure your listing remains fresh and current.
If you need help with you local online marketing give Sean a call on 07850957506