Whether you’re just starting your local web marketing or you’ve been at it for a while, there are some fundamentals that you must address.
The first is being found online when people go looking for what you sell. This is the first part of your “findability.” The second part of findability is for another post but to sum it up, it’s about saying and giving the buyer the relevant information they need to complete their search and ultimately select you as the provider of the solution or product they seek. The two together, being found by buyers, and saying the right thing to them at the right time, are your findability. Findability with your web site is what produces sales. When you think of online outreach I champion a targeted niche approach, when it comes to people seeking you out it’s better to think in terms of casting a wide net.
The main tool you should employ for being found, is Local Search Engine Optimization. The goal is to get your business listed higher in the natural, or so called organic search engine rankings. The vast majority of your efforts should be spent on Local SEO because that’s how the vast majority of consumers find you online.
The other way of increasing your local online findability has to do with appearing in myriad online directories and guides. While these products are used far less than search engines to locate providers of products and services they still represent an important market of buyers for you and shouldn’t be ignored.
These local online directories and guides include web sites like YellowPages.com, entertainment focused directories like CitySearch, newer local directories with a social media slant like Yelp, or specialty directories that cater to your industry or niche (like a restaurant or hotel getting listed in Zagat or Trip Advisor).
Surprisingly, getting listed in these online directories and guides does more than just the obvious step of getting you in said online directory. It also improves your organic local search engine optimization!
First, getting your business listed in the online directories lets people find you in searches. That part is as simple as it sounds. If you’re not in the directory you can’t be found. So the goal is to get listed. Second, all of these directories have the potential to link back to your main web site. That is if you’re in the directory and you bother to edit your listing to include your url. When you do, BINGO, it allows buyers to click on the link for your web site and find out more about you. Congratulations, you’ve just used an online directory listing to increase your chance of a sale.
Third, the link from major sites like YellowPages.com, Yelp.com and others also creates a link that raises the link popularity of your web site on search engines. Link popularity remains one of the most significant ways that search engines like Google and Yahoo! rank the importance of your web site, and therefore it’s relevance and position in search results. The more links from legitimate and highly ranked web sites, the more impact the link will have on your search engine rankings. Guess what the search engines think of big sites like Yelp.com, CitySearch, and Superpages.com? Right, they’re legitimate trusted sources of information on the web and due to that their legitimacy it high.
None of the benefits I’ve cited require you to purchase an ad of any kind. All you need is the free listing in order to be found and for the online directory and guide to provide you with the SEO “Google Juice” to drive your own web site’s natural search engine rankings higher.
It stands to reason then that your goal is to get listed in as many major and legitimate online directories and guides as you can. True. The problem is how much time it takes to set up your listings. This shouldn’t stop you from getting your listings set up.
Today, there are better ways to get your business listed in local online directories and guides and I’ll cover that in my next post!
Julian, ed Local Na8ion