Where Local Merchants and Service Providers Should List Their Businesses
Internet marketing for local merchants and service providers (what you may hear referred to as local SEO or Search Engine Optimization) is complicated these days. It seems like there is a never-ending set of choices that business owners face in terms of listing their business on local listing sites and services to ensure that they are found. To make local search engine optimization even more complicated, new local listing sites and services come to market nearly every day. That is why local listing prioritization is more important today than ever.
Old School Local Marketing – Print (Recycled)
In the not too distant past, the answer for local merchants and service providers was to buy a print advertisement in the one or more of the local phone directories. As most of us know, these days, it’s not always the phone directory that potential clients and customers look to first when researching a large purchase, especially when that purchase is a large, complex business purchase such as information technology infrastructure or business critical enterprise software. What kind of ROI can local businesses expect from a print advertisement in a local phone directory?
Where Local Searches Begin
More and more, this is where local searches begin:
But as a local merchant or service provider, how can you optimize your online business listings to be able show up in the top 7 local search results in Google, often referred to as the Google 7-Pack. The Google 7-Pack shows up in the integrated search results if using Google Search or as letters A-G on a map if using Google Maps. In the map below, H is added to include a total of 8 listings. The non-lettered dots on the maps represent local Internet marketing services providers who did not make the top 8 (A-H) in this case.
For the local search results on the map that are highlighted with a letter, the corresponding Google Places business listing reference will show up to the left of the Google Map in the search results. Though there are many more Google Places listings than just A-H as represented by the numerous un-lettered dots on the map, only the lettered listings will be called out in the search results, which as you can imagine, will have obvious benefits to the businesses whose Google Places listings are included:
Though there are a number of factors that influence the ranking of the Google Places listings in the local search results, including keyword and location used in different fields of the Google Places business listing and distance from the searchers location, also known as the centroid and user reviews which can also help build brand and trust. In addition, and maybe even more important, many local search engine optimization experts believe that the most important factors is in determining a business’ position within the local search results, is what is referred to as citations for that business.
What is a Citation?
A citation is a mention of your business name with other specific pieces of business information, such as your phone number, address, website, or a combination of the three. Consistency is key for business citations to count. So for instance, eBiz ROI, Inc. is not the same as eBiz ROI Incorporated.
Citations are thought to be important for ranking in Google’s local search results, so the more of them a business has from quality sources, the better your business is likely to rank. In other words, submitting your business to the right local listing sites is thought to be a dominant factor improving your local search rankings.
As it turns out, the specific citations that are most important vary by city. As local SEO wasn’t complicated enough already! The good news is that there is now a resource that can be used by businesses, Internet marketers and Local SEO experts to prioritize claiming and setting up local business listings based on the business’ city of operation. This local citation resource is being offered through GetListed.org, in partnership with Whitespark citation finder, providing prioritized lists of citations based on city of operation for 93 cities. So while you won’t find Brattleboro, the 3rd largest city in Vermont with population of just over 15,000 among the cities listed, you will find Albany, NY listed, which is good for eBiz ROI to use as guide for citation prioritization. Though we have a Yelp listing, we may want to freshen it up as it is ranked as the most important citation source for Albany, NY. In addition, the Albany Times Union (local newspaper offering free online business listings) is also a resource that should be considered, even ahead of Citysearch. Who would have thought?
The full set of city’s covered as well as the methodology used to come up with geographically prioritized list of citations can be found at Best Sources of Local Citations by US City. So what are you waiting for? Check out this resource and use it to prioritize your local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts to help local prospective clients and customers find your business while they are researching options for their next major purchase.
If you would like to speak to a local search engine optimization expert, call eBiz ROI at +1 (518) 557-3502 or email us at [email protected]. As always, we look forward to your feedback and tips for local SEO. Please leave in the comments below. All constructive comments will be approved.