Have you claimed your Local Business Listings? It seems that over half of the local businesses have not and many that have do not link to their website or have inaccurate information. Others never check their listing so may not be aware of some negative feedback which could be neutralized by an owner response.
As a small to medium business you have two significant representations in the local search results: your website and your local business listing. Optimizing your local listing can seriously improve your chances of being found. The local listings are provided whenever a user enters a keyword and some local qualifier. Plumber Newark NJ would be a good example.
Try this with Google. Just enter your business service and the local area your business should appear in for your local area, if not you need to claim your local business listing by going to Google Places . There you will be able to create an account and list your business. To do this you will need a local postal address and or phone number to get through the checks Google undertakes to ensure you are a true brick and mortar business.
There are a number of local business listings, Bing, Yahoo and Yellow Pages all offer them online. You should register with all of them.
How you rate locally is determined by a variety of factors, some obvious others a trade secret of the particular provider.
Location is the prime factor. If you are fortunate to be in a local area with no competition, you will be number one. If there are twenty similar businesses then you will need to carefully tune your listings and website to show up in the top ten. Be honest about your local area but also feel free to take advantage of Google extended service area designed for service style businesses to state the areas they cover.
Information in your listing. This should be accurate and as comprehensive as practicable. Use keywords in your content to be sure a visitor but also the search engines understand what your business offers. A company logo, some pictures and perhaps some form of special offer all add to the appeal. Most important, link to your website, link again to your website and yes add links to your website.
Be prolific, most local business listings will know if you are listed in other listings and will give credit them more they find. This is a good reason to list in all the major local listings, take to time to collect as many as possible but be sure to keep records of user names, passwords and e-mail accounts.
Collect Ratings. Most local listings are open for comments, designed for your customers to share their experiences- good and bad. Do not underestimate how important this is, ask your customers to leave feedback and take pride in collecting reviews.
Avoid negative factors. Don’t over play your content. Use a local area code number no PO boxes or “Doing Business As” and never just add key words into none relevant sections.
So go claim or update your local business listing, start with Google Places, Bing Local Yahoo Local and grow from there. One warning, some of the sites offer free registration (Manta) but will blanket you with e-mails suggesting you pay for more exposure, in my experience you don’t get sufficient value to justify the expense. This is why I have a special e-mail address for my business listings membership. It never gets checked!