Running a small business is tough, especially when you’re competing on a local level with other businesses with a strong online presence. You want your business to stand out online so that when people are searching for businesses like yours, your business shows up in search results. To do that, you need to be sure to focus on your company’s local search presence.  More and more local businesses are turning to local search in order to drive visitors to their physical locations as well as driving online sales. With so many consumers using mobile and tablet devices, it’s making local search such an important piece of every local marketing strategy. Read more to learn how to make your small business more competitive in local search.

What is “local search”?

Local search is the use of search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing that allow users to submit geographically constrained searches against a structured database of local business listings. Typical local search searches include not only information about “what” the site visitor is searching for, such as keywords, a business category, or the name of a consumer product, but also “where” information, such as a street address, city name, or zip code. If your company depends primarily on business from your surrounding area, local search should be a critical component to your marketing efforts.

Make sure you NAP

One of the biggest mistakes most businesses make when it comes to local search is not being consistent in their key business information: name, address and phone number (often referred to as “NAP”). For example, let’s say your address is 1155 S. Power Rd. Ste 114 #642 Mesa, AZ 85206. There are several ways that this address can be listed:  you might use “suite #” instead of just the number sign. You might spell out “road”. You might use the plus four in your zip code. The challenge is, to help with your local search presence, it’s important to be consistent in how your business address appears. This applies to your company name as well. For example, let’s say your company name is Wolfie, Little Man and Sons. Be consistent in using “and” versus “&” in your name. Be consistent in using that comma. Be consistent in your capitalization. Consistent is the key phrase here!  Ditto on your phone number!  If your phone number is 480-270-4580, ALWAYS list it that way. Don’t change it up by listing it as 480.270.4580 or (480)270-4580 or any other version. Be consistent for all listings that you have control over to be more competitive in local search.

Get listed on good directories

There are certain directories that are a must-do to be more competitive in local search. As a local business owner, be sure to go to each of these directories and ensure your company is listed correctly, using consistent NAP and a strong, accurate description of your business:

Google – Be sure that you create a Google account for your business. This should be a top priority! Doing so will help your business listing appear when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search and Maps. Google My Business makes it easy to create and update your listing.

Marketing Services in Mesa

Yelp – Yelp is a well-known local business review site. Make sure you sign up for Yelp for Business Owners. A Yelp business user account allows you to connect with customers, including those who have written reviews for your business.

Bing – Bing Places for Businesses is another must-do as a local small business.  Add your business to Bing and make sure customers always find the right information about your business. There are three basic steps to do this: claim your business, complete your profile, and then verify your listing.

Apple Maps – Maps Connect is similar to Bing or Google and a listing people often miss. You’ll need an Apple ID for this, so if you don’t have one, you’ll need to create it. Once you sign in, look for your business, claim it (you’ll need to be near your phone to get and enter a verification code), make all the desired changes to get your NAP consistent as well as social channels, and submit for review.

Facebook – Your Facebook business page allows you to list your NAP so like any other listing, make sure it’s consistent!

Other places to list include Better Business Bureau, CitySearch, Foursquare, Yellow Pages and Dex, to name a few. If you’re unsure how to submit listings, find a small business marketing consultant to assist with this.

Finding all the places you’re listed, or should be

The internet is a big place, and there are MANY more listing opportunities than the ones shown above. Want to find more?  Check out Moz. For $99/year, you can submit your NAP to several different directories, and monitor how well they’re optimized. It’ll show you if you have duplicates, inconsistent information, or are missing information altogether. Well worth it to ensure your listings are consistent, and on the main sites you need them to be on.

There are many tactics to focus on to be more competitive in local search. The above are a few core areas to get started on to help drive more local business to your company.

Patty Hughes
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