Labeled “Barnacle SEO” back in 2007 the tactic of claiming and maximizing the effect of local business listings has been the topic of many discussions and can be a bit confusing to business owners and even experienced marketers. Sometimes this tactic can be confused with submitting your website to various search engines. Both tactics are great ideas and can build valuable SEO for your website as part of an overall well-rounded marketing plan.
Local business listings are part of authority websites that aggregate data from the web’s largest data clearinghouses. These website directories are directories which are human edited. They can be claimed and updated by anyone and require validation of information. These directories also accept various types of content such as text, images, videos, and provide review opportunities as well as geographical targeting.
What are Search Engines?
Search engines are online robots. They roam the web reading pages for content and bouncing from link to link as they go, never stopping, only visiting more pages. These engines provide search results pages based on the various algorithm in their programs. This Stanford university paper written by the founder of Google explains, “Search engines index tens to hundreds of millions of web pages involving a comparable number of distinct terms. They answer tens of millions of queries every day.”
How are they different?
Search engines and directories are very different. Search engine companies exist to provide autonomous data, with a goal of providing the best relevant return of data for an individual’s search. Directories exist to provide categorical information in a way that can be maximized by search engines.
More simply put, local business listings is how you create profiles or content on authority niche sites in order to get listed higher in the search engines results pages.
Local business listing optimization is also great for local businesses and local SEO. Since Google has made numerous efforts to kill link building and the ability of SEOs to manipulate search results, a rise in the number of authoritative listing sites in the first page has occurred. The good news is that you can leverage these sites with links to gain visibility quickly as well as build valuable back links to your website.
Creating Your Profiles and Content
Directory listings can and should be updated regularly. They provide a fresh content signal to Google. So you should create keyword-rich and optimized content for your profile. A nice article about your business works well. Throw in either a special feature or your business hours. Other key information would include:
- Store Code
- Main Phone
- Alternate Phone
- Mobile Phone
- Home Page URL
- Email address
- Payment Types
- Business Type
- Containing Location
- Logo URL
- Display URL
- Social URLs
- Promotional URLs
- External Media URLs
- Certifications and Specialties
- Brands Carried
- Category Overrides
Boost Your Profile and Content with Links
Local listing directories can and do publish valuable back links to your website. Your logo URL, Display URL, Social URLs, Promotional URLs and External Media URLs in the list should all be maximized thus adding more SEO and more visibility.
And if that isn’t enough reasons to use local listings!
A negative online reputation just plain stinks. A ton of bad reviews from former employees or competitors is enough to make the most loyal customers think twice. Just a single negative review is enough to send customers to your competition. When using local business listings, you can leverage their natural SEO to drive bad reviews off of the first page in Google’s search index. This decreases the chances that someone will see your negative review. When you get positive reviews, why not use them in the promotional URL section of the listing. Let the entire world know about your satisfied customer!
A Final Word About Search Engines
While this article discusses the value inherent in local business listings, I also want to hold up the value of submitting your site to search engines. I’ll simply say this: It’s 100% true that 99.6% of all search traffic comes from Google, Yahoo, and Bing in the U.S. These engines still are powered by links, and since any visibility in a search engine is in the form of a link, the other 300+ subsequent search engines still have value. Why? They provide links back to your website in areas that Google uses to determine authority. Since authority=first page in Google, then we can easily see that submitting and obtaining links in other search engines still creates value for your website. And that’s great news for your business!