As consumers start to access the Internet more frequently for their daily needs, it has never been more imperative to get your business online and embedded in local searches. Marketing has come to the point where having a local online listing for a bricks and mortar business is mandatory. In today’s article, I’ll discuss why it’s critical to be listed on local online searches, how you can do it yourself and the benefits of doing so.
Myth: local search is not suitable for small businesses
One of the biggest myths local business owners believe is that online local search (or any other form of online marketing for that matter) does not apply to their business. They assume that because they are a small business targeting a very small area that there’s little need for them to be online. However, Google has proven this not to be the case and revealed some very interesting stats about consumer local search behavior:
The Yellow Pages and other print directories have moved into an online/offline combo to bring the world of SEO to their clients and provide more valuable information such as current opening times, interactive map directions and are easier to access. What was a standard for businesses 10 years ago has only evolved into more information, more availability, and more places.
How local search works
Online local search has come along way over the years. Search engines have become so advanced that if someone in your local area searches for a dentist, veterinary, car shop or yoga studio, Google will return results closest to where the search was made.
When I scroll to the bottom of the page, Google reveals that it’s showing me matches from local search based on my location:
Unlike a worldwide search, when utilizing local search you’re not fighting against the biggest corporations in the world, meaning you can easily rule the local nest if you setup your online profiles correctly.
How much does it cost to get listed?
The biggest search engines let you list your business for free – no strings attached. Certain platforms may charge you a one-off or monthly fee for ‘enhanced listings’ that permit you to add more information, pictures and details about your business. But for businesses on a budget, you can list your business locally on the first page of major search engines and maps for free. In fact, we will help you. To get your website listed on local search results, we can help you with that right here.
Where to list your business for local search
Depending on the industry you operate in, there are a number of mediums you can list yourself on local search, the most popular platforms include:
When it comes to search engines the big three are definitely known as Google, Bing and Yahoo. To successfully list your business on either you simply have to submit your sitemap to each search engine and within two weeks your website will be listed. To improve your online visibility it helps to correctly setup your website for local SEO like this.
Google Plus is a social media network that enhances your local search listings. As you saw in the image above, a Google Plus business account will list your business within Google Maps letting customers find you on the go. A traditional search engine listing will only show your business in list format, whereas Google Plus account will give your business a slot within Google Maps.
Apple has 52% of the mobile market share in the US, making it the ideal place to have your business listed. Much like Google Plus, Apple Maps lets you list your business within their map for local searchers to see.
Review listings includes websites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Bing Places, Yahoo! Local and Trip Advisor. These platforms all allow you to list your local business and give customers the option to leave your business a review and star rating. Review sites tend to rank fairly high in local searches as Google is aware that consumers want see reviews of local businesses before using them. Join up to review sites that best reflect your business and monitor them closely as most allow you to reply to customer reviews and queries.
There are thousands of online directories you can list your business. I suggest you stick to local based online directories such as Local over worldwide directories as the objective to being found in local searches is to attract nearby customers. Don’t aimlessly insert your business to as many directories, because you may start getting inquires from customers from all over the nation who you cannot serve.
Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and numerous other platforms also allow you to list your local business and encourage their users to ‘check-in’ and learn more about your business. Start with one or two social networks instead of joining them all. If you cannot spend time posting on them all frequently, you may end up harming your brand as social media accounts that haven’t been updated for months leave a negative impression on new prospects.
Note: when listing your business online, ensure the information across all platforms is consistent. I strongly suggest you to list all your business information (name, address, telephone number, email, opening times, etc) in an excel sheet and to copy and paste the data each time you create a new listing.
Having an inconsistent business data online will negatively hurt your business’s local search presence.
Want to be found now? Then get our free step-by-step instruction guide to get your business listed on Google and Apple Maps by clicking here.
Benefits to being listed in local searches
There are zero drawbacks to being listed in local searches and plenty of benefits, they include:
Unlike being listed in offline print directories, almost all local search directories allow free local listings of your business. Getting your site listed on Google, Bing, Yahoo and Apple Maps are all free.
Increase website traffic
Not everyone is a master at running online adverts to drive traffic to a website or store. Facebook and Google ads while highly effective, will cost you ad spend without the promise of any result. Listing your business in various local search directories is free and yields an instant positive ROI.
Google found that 18% of local searchers ended up making a purchase right after searching their query versus non-local searches that resulted in just half:
What business doesn’t want to increase sales?
Grab a larger market share
If until now you’ve done very little to increase your business’s presence in the local online space, you’ll almost certainly grab a larger market share by following the tips in this article. ComScore revealed that 36% of consumers start their local search process at search engines:
Having your business on the first page of Google is a pretty big deal. Even the average online user knows that if a business is listed on the first page for a particular search query, they are doing something right. Your rankings will add credibility and authority to your business as one of the biggest pain points for consumers is knowing whether a local business is good or not.
Search traffic provides highest ROI
Of all the inbound marketing methods you can leverage for your business, nothing yields a better conversation rate than search traffic. Leads generated from SEO have a close rate of around 14.6% compared to mail or print adverts which is around 1.7%, and search traffic is free!
Search traffic is the most valuable traffic online because you’re not placing your business in people’s face while they are doing something else, users are looking for you. Most ad mediums focus on pushing your business on the user, local search traffic pulls customers to you.
Free local listings Vs. paid search what’s better?
As a business owner you shouldn’t tie yourself down to using only one service or the other. Both local listings and paid search are highly effective for local businesses and depending on your needs, budget and goals, both can yield great results. However, for a business that is just getting to grips with the online world, the cheaper, safer and easier route is to get your business listed locally, which you can do by using our free step-by-step instruction guide.
Having a business listed online should be one the first steps any new or current business should conduct when devising a marketing strategy. Before they even start promoting their products or using social media, they must list their business online, the article has proved its importance.
With online marketing expanding at rapid speeds and business owners spending all their time running their business, it’s quite common for business owners to be in the dark and not know the power of being ranked in local searches.
The good news is you can change all that today by getting your business found in the online world.
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