Local SEO – Step 1: Listing Your Business on the Search Engines

Local SEOSearch, from both sides of the equation – the searcher and the search engine – has become much more local in nature.

Gone are the white and yellow pages of the local phone book – searchers have moved online.

Depending on the data and the age group that you are looking at, anywhere from 60%-90% of  local search – potential customers looking for information on local businesses – is done through search engines.

This fact has not escaped the search engines – they have moved to make search results more personalized and location based.

This means that someone searching for “pizza” in Chicago, will get different results then someone making the same search in Boise.

In addition, they have allotted prime real estate on the Search Engine Results page for local businesses that are listed with the search engines. Is your business ready to be found by “local” search?

Google Local Search Results

The “local” search engine results usually include 7 listings, with a link to click “for more listings near                                 .” at the bottom of the list.

Typically, the search engine results page will display 3 pay per click ads at the top, followed by 0-3 organic listings, the 7 local search results, and then the remaining organic listings.

Tip: Prior to listing your business with the Search Engines, or building citations (future blog), create an information page with your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number for you to reference as you register your business. It is important that your local listings all use the exact same information.

  • Example #1: If you place LLC behind your business name sometimes but not others, you should decide to either do it every time, or not at all.
  • Example #2: If you sometimes add “& Co.”, but other time write it out as “and Company”, choose one way of writing it and use it on all of your listings and citations.
  • Example #3: If your address is “#100 West Main St.”, but you sometime write it as “#100 W. Main Street”, make sure to be consistent on all citations and listings.

Listing Your Business with Google Places (Google+ Local)

Although Google Places is transitioning to Google+ Local, the business listing process still takes place at Google Places.

1. Go to “Google Places”.

2. Click “Get Started Now” under the “Get your business found on Google” picture.

3. You can use an existing Google  account to sign in, however, if you plan on allowing others (employees or a marketing professional) access to the business listing, you may want to create a separate email account.

4. Once you have signed in, Google will ask for your business phone number, then search the Google Places listings to see if your business account has already been claimed.

5. If it has, you’ll be given the opportunity to go in and edit it, then verify the changes. If not, you’ll land on a page with a form to fill out about your business. The form is pretty straight forward, however, you want to make sure to:

  • Fill it out as completely and as with much detail as possible
  • Make sure to fill out the business name, address and phone number exactly the same way on each search engine and citation site.
  • Add pictures and video if available.

6. Submit and verify: You will have to verify that you are who you say that you are with Google. They will usually give you a choice of a phone call or having a pin number sent out to you – choose from the available options and your Google+ local listing information is complete.

Listing Your Business with Bing Local

1. Go to Bing Local.

2. Click the “Add or Change Your Business Listing” link.

Bing Local

3. Click the “Get Started Now” button under the “Claim your business listing on Bing” heading.

Bing: Claim your business4. Input your business information and “Search” to see if there is already information about your business in Bing.

5. Complete the form to add your business.

6. Fill out the information.

  • Use the exact same information that you used for Google Places and other sites.
  • Try to use all 5 Specialties – notice that there is a drop down arrow for each subject that will open up more options
  • Add pictures of your logo, building, association memberships, employees, etc.
  • Choose to accept mobile site unless you know that you already are set up for mobile.

7. Submit and Verify.

Listing Your Business with Yahoo Local Listings

1. Go to Yahoo Local Listings.

2. If you don’t have a Yahoo account, you will have to create one first. Sign in to Yahoo.

Yahoo Local

3. Fill out the Account Contact Information and the Business Information sections.

4. The categories don’t offer a great deal of detail, but try to choose those that best describe your business. You have to click on the description that you want to use,  and I’ve found that I have to click on it a second time before it will actually display.

5. If the information that you provided matches a listing, you will have the opportunity to claim that listing, otherwise “Create a new listing”.

6. Fill in as much of the “Optional Information” that applies. For most businesses, a basic display (rather than the PRO version) is sufficient.

7. Close the preview screen, review your information, type in the captcha code, agree to the terms, and submit.

8. Choose your verification method and verify. This will result in Yahoo creating a dashboard for your business, but doesn’t mean that your listing has been approved yet, so don’t forget to check back to make sure that your listing is active.

Congratulations, you’ve now registered your business for local search with the search engines. You’re listing is eligible to appear on the first page of results for your industry. In some industries and geographic locations, this may be all you have to do to appear on the first page, however, for competitive markets, this is only the first step. To move up the rankings in those markets, you’ll need to work on acquiring citations and reviews. Check back soon for information on citations.

As always, questions and comments are welcomed and appreciated.

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Brent is a nationally recognized SEO expert and works with small businesses and Financial Advisors across the country. In addition to this blog, he is a regular contributor to Steamfeed, is syndicated through Social Media Today and B2C, and has written for Search Engine Journal, Spinsucks, and other marketing blogs.
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