I just got back from a week’s vacation in St. Augustine, Florida and while at the beach, I walked in on a conversation my parents were having with another couple. The first thing I heard was, “oh, well have you checked that out on Yelp?” Sadly, this got me thinking about work and what my next blog should be.
So the big question this week is, are local search listings really that important? The answer is yes and for many reasons!
While sites like yellowpages.com and superpages.com are still out there, their relevance continues to decline as Google has turned to Google Places as a way to provide high quality and highly trusted business results. With Google Places, Yahoo! Places, Yelp and others, users are able to receive so much more useful content than they have in the past.
We decided to tap into the local search to find a kid/family friendly restaurant in the area that was relatively close to our house since we were carting four kids and three babies. We were given many options on a map to choose from and were able click on the information to get more details and read reviews from other patrons. The whole process on deciding where to go took about five minutes, which is great when you are dealing with lots of crying children!
Some other things that local search listings offer are the ability to add images of your place of business or anything relevant to your business and the ability to add videos or link directly to your YouTube page.
Not only is local search great from a user experience standpoint, it’s also helpful from an SEO standpoint. When you claim your page and it links to your website, you are building inbound links which is helping to build your search ranking. When Google spiders the page and it sees that the information on the places page matches the information on your site, it knows that it is quality content and can be trusted, which in turn improves your search ranking. Another way that local search can improve your search ranking is through reviews. Users can leave reviews and the more you have, the better it looks to Google. Currently, it’s being assumed that quantity is more important than quality. And even if you get a bad review, you have the ability to respond to the user and hopefully reach out to them and provide a better experience.
The biggest misconception with local search is that is only for brick and mortar businesses. Because of this, there is a huge opportunity for eCommerce and Lead Generation, online businesses to get a step up on the competition. It’s another way to boost your company to the top of the search results so that people can find your site more easily and more often. While this is pretty easy to set up, many companies often overlook it or don’t realize the importance.
I’ve mostly talked about Google Places, but I’ve mentioned a few other local search listings that you as a business should be registered on. Have you registered your business yet?
Quick steps to help you set up your business on Google Places
- Go to Google Places
- If your business is already listed (this happens if your business has a large search volume) claim the business as yours. You will receive a phone call or postcard at the phone number or address listed to verify that you are in fact that business. If your business is not already listed, you will have to create it from scratch (just filling in basic information) and then verify the same way you would if you were already listed with the phone call or postcard.
- Update all information including, website address, phone number and street address so that everything is accurate.
- Add images, videos and a description so that visitors have the full picture of who you are.
- Try and get current clients/patrons or past clients/patrons to provide reviews so you can start building on that.
- Optimize! Make sure you are going back regularly and updating and adding new images and content.