Are You Using Local Directories To Help People Find Your Local Business With Online Search?

Google has been making changes that help small businesses with Local Search. Have you and your SEO company kept up? With hundreds of thousands of new websites hitting the internet every day, Google, Bing and Yahoo have the very interesting position of trying to figure out what sites are real, which are spam and which are junk.

One of the easiest ways for the search giants to eliminate the junk sites is to elevate “legit” businesses to the top of search. So the big question and their big secret is how do they do that? My brother Roy addressed this issue years ago when he created the original in the 90’s and patented the software that ran the servers. That patent is now referenced in just about every search patent out there.

How the big three search engines do it isn’t public knowledge as each of them tries to outdo the other so they can provide the search results you are looking for. Remember those crazy commercials about search results that Bing ran last year? The funny thing is the Bing search software wasn’t that much better.

This year all three search giants have improved and when it comes to local search they have really stepped up their game. So how do they do it? After reading all of the patent changes and using a little common sense we see some trends. A high priority is given to government records like business licenses and permits. You would be amazed how many businesses don’t have a business license or permit. Some areas don’t require them either.

Telephone company listings can be another method to cross reference companies to verify that they exist at a physical location. This is getting harder every day as business owners move to cellular, VoIP and other non-traditional phone services. My office is a combination of Cellular and VoIP telephones. We have a few clients that are cellular only, one of them is a bakery that only serves walk in customers.

Finally there are local directories, that use input from real people to verify and rate a business. Believe it or not there are over 100 of these directories that carry weight at the big three search engines. Since we don’t know the exact weighting, we offer a service to input information and get it verified at all 100.

At a minimum there are about 20 that every business should keep up to date. It might sound like a lot of work but it really isn’t. Once you create the information for one site, you can load it onto all of the other sites. You only need to update a couple each week to see a steady improvement to your internet traffic, and if you do it right your foot traffic will follow suit.

Not sure what I mean by a Local Directory Site? Yelp!, Manta, Foursquare and are all examples of local directory sites. These sites verify physical addresses and allow customers to “check in” and “rate” your business. Google and Facebook also have local listing and check in capability so don’t overlook them either.

If you have a traditional business, many times called a “brick and mortar” business, these local directories may be the key to your online marketing success. We are finding lately that they have as much weight in SEO efforts as traditional article writing, blogs and back linking campaigns.

In order to keep up with the changes at the big three search engines, we have flipped our policy and now start new clients on a local business listing program first and add SEO once the local listings are all up to date.

Starting with the local listing directories is free if you do it yourself, so there really isn’t any reason not to get it done.

If you want to get your local business off to a great start with online marketing start with the local listing directories. You don’t need a website, just an address and a phone number. You can use a free Facebook page or Google Plus page as your website for most of these directories. They are more concerned that you have a place for customers to go than they are with your website.

If your business is local, start building your online marketing program by listing local and watch the locals come in.

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