Need more exposure for your local business site? Find the most relevant category for your business and be sure you’re thorough with submissions to sites on this list. Links have long been a way for search providers such as Google to find out what your page is about and also how popular and relevant your page is in relation to others in it’s index. Although this algorithm is constantly changing, one factor that will surely always play a role is the quantity, quality, and anchor text of inbound links. One way for local businesses to get relevant links is by submitting their website to directories and other sites that provide consumers with geographically categorized or topical information.
Local businesses, in particular, can utilize hundreds of geographic specific directories & sites to garner inbound links and increase their chances of ranking for key terms in their local market.
Use the following checklist as a start. Once you have claimed your business or set up your profiles on the following sites, you should have covered most sources of local merchant information used by consumers. Remember that thorough profiles, complete with photos, specials, offers, phone numbers, intersections, directions, landmarks, etc. all help and should be kept in mind as you move down the list.
Fist and foremost you will want to claim your listing on the big three search sites, Google, Bing & Yahoo.
Be sure to search first to see if you are already listed. If you are, you simply need to claim your listing, double checking any information that might already be there. It’s also a good idea to encourage people to rate your business using Google in addition to third party sites such as Yelp and Citysearch. Since Google has removed these 3rd party sites from their places pages, now only recommendations and ratings from Google itself appear. These can be invaluable in indicating to Google how popular, reputable and trustworthy your business is in relation to your competition. It also establishes trust among consumers looking at your sites places listing, and since this is invariably going to end up being your “landing page” for many prospects, it’s important to get things right. By establishing trust and credibility on your places page you are helping guide consumers to your value proposition quicker, before they even reach your site.
Once you have these listings at the top search engines down, be sure to do the same in Yelp and any other 3rd party review sites that are appropriate for your line of business. If you are an accountant for instance, there are probably quite a few local accountant directories and sites you should be listed in. To find out which ones are relevant try doing a search for “your business + location” + “submit url” or “submit site” or something similar. So for an accountant in Los Angeles it would look like this:
You can comb through the list to find appropriate directories to submit your site. You can also do a bit of “Googling” on your own to find other search operators that will return directory sites. Be sure the site is appropriate and choose the best category, provide accurate details and always respond to any emails requiring you ‘verify’ your submission.
Some other excellent sites and brief descriptions:
- BrownBook.net – Free local business directory that anyone can edit. Sort of a wikipedia type site for local business.
- Citysearch.com – Major competitor to Yelp in the local space but they do charge a fee to claim your listing.
- Universal Business Listing or UBL is a paid service providing listing information to all major search engines, yellow pages, GPS navigation devices, 411 directory assistance and other sites critical to local search.
- Localeze – You can be sure your information is accurate with the major serach engines by using localeze, which submits fresh feeds to the major search engines on a regular basis.
- InfoGroup -A primary database of local business information that is the starting point for a lot of search engines local business displays. You will want to make sure your information is accurate each time you move locations, InfoGroup is a good place to start.
- InsiderPages.com – This complement to Citysearch allows you to claim your listing for free and is also indexed and appears often in the Google SERPS.
That concludes the list of major providers you should update your local business information with. In addition to ensuring that your listed in all the above places, you also should be looking to get mentioned in additional outlets even if there is no link present. These mentions are called citations and are used by the major search engines to supplement or verify the information found in the directories and databases elsewhere. One program that requires registration, but is well worth it is called Whitespark Local Citation Finder. It scours Google search results pages for a given keyword and finds the most relevant citation sources for your specific business. Particularly ones that appear across the top ranking sites for those keyword sets. The ones that are common across what Google perceives as the most relevant for your search term are probably the sites you should also be listed in.
With the above directories and tips on building citations, whether it’s with Whitespark or just good research, you should have a strong foothold on your target keyword in the market you serve in no time. It’s also a good time to metion form filling software or extensions, you should be using Roboform or something similar to pre-populate information so when you are doing submissions you aren’t having to constantly type the same information in over and over again. With Google trending more and more to serving the individual consumer results that are not only topically relevant, but geographically relevant requires local businesses to stay one step ahead and ensure they are going to be found wherever customers are searching.