Local Search and Your Brand
Tell Me What’s Nearby!
You have lived this scenario before. A need for a product or service arises and you pull out your smartphone to search for what is available “nearby.” Odds are, unless the local results for that product or service are truly dismaying, you didn’t have to scroll past the first few results to choose a local brand that you will either contact or visit to meet your need. Your have potential clients doing the same thing every day for your products and services. Think of all the people who search for “food nearby” every day at lunchtime, even though they are in the same community for lunch Monday - Friday! Making sure your business ranks in local search engine result pages is vital for all brands - not just the mom and pops, and not just the large corporations. Fortunately, solutions to improving your rank-ability are available to anyone.
What is SEO?
If you own a business and have talked to a marketer even once in the last two decades you have heard of search engine optimization (SEO) in some way or another. SEO is an aspect of marketing focused on improving how businesses rank in search engine result pages (SERP). At times, this can seem a little like gaming the system, but at its core, SEO - particularly for local search - is also about good branding. See, search engines draw on data from points and aggregates across the web. Those data points are websites where your business has a listing - commonly referred to as a citation - and those listings/citations tell search engines who your business is, what it does, where it’s located, when it’s open, and even (to some degree) how active it is.
Wait, what are citations?
You are actually already very familiar with some of these citations sites but in short a citation is any place that your business name and business info appear on the web even if it is unlinked to your URL. The most common is citation source is Facebook - because are you really a real business if you’re not on Facebook? A complete Google My Business Listing is also a highly ranking factor that also feeds your Google Maps listing. (If you’re not on this already - get on it now!... and if you need help, let us know!) Yelp, Angie’s List, Bing and Yahoo are also at the top of the list. However, there are literally dozens of these sites and although you have most likely never heard of some of them (Yalwa.com, anyone?) they all lend to the credibility of your brand when it comes to search. Here’s the tough part: even if you didn’t spend time creating a listing for your business on each of the unique sites that Google and other search engines find important, a listing already exists - and it could be incorrect or incomplete. Duplicate listings can exist on the same citation website, and if you’ve ever moved (as we have), even more confusion can come into play.
NAP - make it right, make it tight!
Name. Address. Phone number. These are three of the golden data points that search engines are looking for. However, they also want to know other critical attributes about your business. What is it that you do? When are you open? What is your website URL? Can you be reached by email? What is your logo and do you have good pictures of your business? Providing complete information, consistently, across citation sites sends positive signals to search engines about when to feature your business as a result of a search.
This. Takes. Time.
Sadly, there are no one-shot, one-action cures for improving how your business ranks in search engine results. This is a long-form game because there are many components, with listings/citations being just one of the major factors.
Use Our Listing Scan Tool To See How You Are Doing
Now that you know a little about citations and how important they are to your ability to rank well in local search, are you wondering how your business is doing? Well, you could definitely start by just Googling your business name and seeing what comes up. Or, you could give our free scan tool a try! We have access to over 60 citation sites and in a matter of seconds you can discover how your business is listed among them. It’s free and easy to use! What you find might surprise you!
Want to learn more about SEO and branding?
Head over to the page linked below to download a slide deck from a presentation we gave on the topic. On the page you'll find other resources and downloads to add to your education.