If you run a business that operates locally and you are looking for customers in your area, then promoting it business in your local area is important to you.
In that case I recommend that – once you have your WordPress website setup – you follow these instructions to have your website registered with Google and other search engines for the local search results.
When does a search engine show a local result?
All three major search engines – Google, Yahoo!, and MSN – now have local search results, and they display them right with the normal ranking pages. When does a search engine show a local result? Typically, Google, Yahoo! and Live will show a local result if the city, area, or region name was used in a keyword search, for example, “new jersey cpa”, and if it’s clearly a locally-focused business. Some say search engines may also check the IP address of the searcher to see where they are, but the search engines won’t say for sure.
Here’s what you will need to do to get listed in the local business search results
1. Register with the search engine.
Google, Yahoo and Live all have webmaster logins. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to register with each one first.
- On Google, go to Google.com/Accounts. (If you have Google Analytics installed or a Gmail account, use Google Adwords or have Adsense on your website then you will already have a Google account.)
- On Yahoo, go to Yahoo.com and set up a ‘my Yahoo’ account.
- On MSN, go to Webmaster.Live.Com
Follow the instructions there.
Fill out all the required information. That gets you an account so that you can add or edit local listings.
2. Add/edit your listing
• On Google, go to Google.com/local/add. Or go to Google maps and choose put your business on Google Maps http://maps.google.com/. Once you’ve clicked on that you will be taken to Google Local Business Center.
You want to click on Add New Business and you will be taken to the next screen where you fill in the country you live in, business name, street address including zip code/post code, contact telephone number, email address, website address and business description. You will also get to add your business to up to 5 categories.
As you fill in your address you will see the map on the right hand side close into your actual business location!
Next you need to fill in the details about your business, such as hours of operation, payment options, and adding photos. You can upload up to 10 photos for your business, such as your business logo, a photo of yourself or your
business storefront, and even better, photos of your products to showcase them.
Once you have saved all this information and moved to the next screen you will see that Google will call you to give you a
verification code. They will call you on the business phone number that you specified earlier, OR, if you prefer, if you have specified a cell number too, they will send you a text with the verification code on it and you will have this option too.
- On Yahoo, go to listings.local.yahoo.com/account
- On MSN, go to llc.local.live.com
3. Get reviews from your customers.
All three search engines include reviews in their local listings. More reviews definitely equals a higher ranking. So, go to your listing on each search engine and find the ‘write a review’ link. Take that link, and use a TinyURL.com or redirection plugin to change if from something like:
into something like this: http://yourclientwebsite/reviews or http://tinyurl.com/43s8hq.
This will look much better.
Then send that to all of your customers, asking them politely to leave a brief review.
You don’t need to be shy about it. Most businesses run on referrals. Reviews are referrals that everyone can read. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many of your customers will be happy to give you great reviews.
4. Get listed in directories.
Search engines like it when you have inbound and outbound links to/from your site. But these links must be to/from reputable sites. Local directories are a easy ways to build your local inbound links – your conversion will be much higher from these links. These include Yelp.com, SuperPages, YellowPages.com, and many of others.
You can find a great list here: http://www.ecommerceoptimization.com/local-business-listing-guide/.
Start with the free ones, and then hit a few of the majors, like SuperPages.
5. Social Networks
Use the power of social media for connecting on a local level:
6. Don’t forget onpage optimization.
I’ll be writing more about optimizing your pages for the search engines, but here you just want to make sure the address appears in at least a few places on the site, as crawlable text (not an image or Flash). Also make sure the city name shows up in key places like title tags and headings here and there, and that you’ve got a good, crawlable contact us page with all your information on it.
7. Be Patient.
Don’t expect results overnight. To get the results you want, you need to keep working on it. Keep gaining reviews, too.