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May 14, 2010

10 Simple Steps to A Successful Local Listing

Local search has become one of the most affordable and important ways for small businesses to be found by their customers. In a recent ComScore study, they found that 42% of local searchers wanted to find a business within 6-15 miles of their home or place of work*. Searchers are looking for more relevance than ever before. With statistics like this, it’s more imperative you are giving those local users every opportunity to find your business.

The reality is that there are many factors that can contribute to a successful local, online presence. In today’s market, it takes being available at different times and in varied formats to reach the right audience. One of the main ways prospects can find you is through a local business listing. With prime placement right at the top of the search results page, these listings give a previously unheard of visibility to small and local businesses.

So what can you do reach that coveted prime placement, a.k.a. the Google “7-pack”?

  1. Submit your listing– Seems pretty simple, right? Well, it’s a crucial step. Just submitting and verifying your listing can sometimes be enough in less competitive markets. Google takes the verified information as the most trusted, so make sure your listing is claimed.
  2. Have only one, optimized listing for your business – When you submit your information to Google, you could have the option to choose existing business information, if it exists for your company. You don’t want to have competing listings out there, so always claim the existing information and optimize it- so there is only one active listing. I have seen claiming another listing significantly help a business rank better.
  3. Choose correct categories for your business – Google provides different industry options for you to choose from. These are one of the main factors that determine which searches your listing could show for. Make sure these accurately describe your products and services.
  4. Put your industry and target area in the title of your listing– This information helps Google, but it also improves your visibility for those keywords.
  5. Be sure to use a local phone number in your listing– Using a local number lets both the user and the search engine know that you are in fact located where you say you are.
  6. Create a description that’s informative– This descriptive area provides you the chance to give the most information about your company. Use your keywords and provide the details that would be valuable for your customer base.
  7. Reviews are important! Positive reviews are a huge factor on whether or not someone will choose you business over another. Not only that, but the presence of reviews (both negative and positive) can increase the ranking of your listing. In some industries, I have seen listings perform better by simply having more reviews than their competitors.
  8. Keep your listing up to date– Updating the information tells the search engines that it’s relevant. It can be as simple as updating a coupon, or other details.
  9. Make sure your listing is 100% complete! Don’t underestimate the value of having a completed listing. Google is all about the user experience, and a complete listing shows that your business is providing the most information.
  10. Submit your info to other directories as well. Google actually pulls your business info from other sites, so it would behoove you to have accurate, standard information about your business from as many sources as possible.

And there you have it- the first steps to getting great rankings for your local listing. While there is no guarantee that following these steps will increase your rankings, an optimized listing almost always outperforms an un-optimized one. So, take the time, and see what you can accomplish. Do you have any other tips for local listings? Please share!

Emily Thompson is the Online Marketing Coordinator for Kutenda Online Marketing Software. Kutenda provides the tools, training and services small businesses need to increase their web presence and grow their business using Internet marketing. Follow Emily on Twitter- @ekthompson