At this point, you've read the great posts in SEP about getting started with local optimization. You've found your business on the major sites like Google, Yelp, Bing, and Yahoo and gone through the process of claiming, verifying, adding photos and categories, and more. Now that you've gotten your feet wet in the ocean of local optimization, its time to dive in.
There are a vast amount of opportunities for local businesses out there on the web. Claiming your listings on the search engines is just the first step. Your next step is up to you, but I recommend the following:
- Get Your Social Media Right
The worlds of local and social are merging. This is indicative from Yelp reviews showing up in (and possibly impacting) search engine rankings. The same goes for tweets, Facebook likes and shares, and Google plus ones. Many of your local profiles will allow links to your social profiles, and vice versa. Create and optimize your social channels to match your local profiles, which will hopefully entice searchers who find your local business to talk about it, share it, etc.
- Find More Directories
Just because your business listing is looking great on Google, Bing, and Yelp, it doesn't mean your work is done. Search Engines pull information from sites called data providers; sites like Insider Pages, City Search, Mojo Pages, Merchant Circle, and so many more. There are great lists out there for the top free directories to submit your business to. The goal is to have your business accurately represented on as many of these sites as possible. Your NAP (name, address, phone number) should be exactly the same, down to the character (including punctuation and street abbreviations). Google and Bing will pull information from these sites each time an inquiry is made, and if the info matches your Local Listing, it helps build the authority of these returns. There are so many of these sites out there, that your work is never really done. Happy Hunting!
- Keep Up With It
Your site is confirmed and has a place on a local data provider. However, some of these sites go through updates that will change your info, and again, you want everything to be accurate. Start a spreadsheet of each directory you submit to, complete with login info and the last time you logged in and updated. This will help you keep track of what's been done and what needs to be done. Google Places is the perfect example of the importance of this. Not a few months back, one of my clients got an email that Google would be making changes to their Places Page in an effort to keep the most updated information featured. If my client did not manually log in and override the changes, certain photos and information that we had previously entered would be changed. It was a simple fix, but it was still good to log-in and make sure everything was set. Data sites like Yelp allow for customers to suggest changes too, so you'll want to make sure people outside of your business aren't submitting incorrect info.
The point is, like search engine optimization is an on-going, ever changing process; so is your local optimization campaign. The process of seek, submit, optimize, update, and repeat is on-going and time consuming. But like all else in SEO, if you put the time in and take advantage of all of the resources for local businesses out there, it will yield your goal results.