If you rely heavily on a local customer base to keep your business afloat, your local SEO strategy must be on point. Part of that strategy, as you probably know, involves setting up and optimizing listings on local directories. But that’s not all there is to it. Where you set up and how well you optimize both impact your online local visibility. In other words, it’s vital that you know how to show up in directory searches. Do you know what it takes? It’s time to test your knowledge.
Choosing the Right Directories
There are scores of options to choose from. Some are industry-specific, while others cater to a wide range of businesses. Some are mainly for small businesses, while others welcome businesses of other or all sizes. Some are well-known, while others are more like “hidden gems.” How can you possibly know which directories are worthy of your time and attention?
Well, no matter what, there are at least eight that you absolutely must be listed on:
- Google My Business (here’s how to get on GMB)
- Yelp (get on Yelp)
- Facebook Business
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Places
If you create, claim and verify listings on these eight sites alone, you’ll have a good start. However, without proper optimization, you won’t see the best result. So consider the following optimization best practices that, if you use them consistently, will help you show up in directory searches.
Optimizing Your Business Directory Listings
There are two major facets of listing optimization. One is optimizing for effective indexing by search bots. The other has to do with the appeal of your listings from a human standpoint. These two factors work hand in hand.
If you give search engines the information they need to rank your listings high in search results, they will, bringing more traffic to your listing. And if you give consumers the information they need, you’ll get more clicks, views, customers, and reviews, which will help you achieve and maintain good rankings. The opposite is also true if your listings are inaccurate or incomplete. Needless to say, you want fully optimized listings that will work for you, not against you.
1. Provide Your NAP
What information is 100% essential? Your up-to-date (business) name, address and phone number, also known as NAP.
Of course, this information helps customers to identify, contact, and visit you. Yet, it also helps search engines confirm that business information. When consistent across the web, search engines can have confidence in the accuracy of your listings and will assign them a better rank.
2. Link to Your Website
Another thing that can improve rankings is linking to your website. It strengthens the connection between information search engines already have about your business and your website. It also directs interested traffic to your site where there’s the potential for more engagement.
3. Write a Description
Adding a concise description of what you do or offer will leave no room for consumers to be confused. It will help them decide if you’re the best option for them and prevent any disappointment that could result from an unclear understanding of your offerings.
This description, if well-thought-out, can also teach search engines more about your business so that they can rank you accordingly. That’s especially the case if you include relevant keywords.
4. Utilize Keywords
Keywords are the terms searchers use to find, in this case, your type of business online. They have much to do with how rankings are decided. In part, this is because your use of the same phrases searchers are using indicates relevance. As a result, your listings will be among the first options shown to those local searchers, if the rest of your listing is also well-optimized.
While using keywords can be beneficial, you must be wise in how you do so. For example, you wouldn’t want to force them into your text where they don’t fit or drown your listing in too many. Instead, its best to write naturally, incorporating a balanced number of keywords where you can.
5. Add Photos & Rich Media
At the very least, you should have photos of your location and offerings. While they don’t necessarily need to be expensive professional shots, they shouldn’t be blurry, misleading or otherwise low-quality. Instead, they should be clear, represent your business accurately, and motivate consumers to become customers.
The same is true of any other rich media you choose to include in your listings such as company videos or virtual tours of your location.
6. Select Appropriate Categories
Last not but least, you should list your business in the appropriate categories on whatever directories you use. This will help potential customers to find you much more easily as they filter the industries of interest to them.
Set Up & Optimize Your Listings
As you turn your attention to local SEO and online directories, there are a couple of last things to keep in mind.
- One, keep your information consistent across the web. For example, if your company name is Boston’s Finest Plumbing Company, don’t use Boston’s Finest Plumbing Co. Stick to the same spelling and format all the time.
- Two, always keep your listings updated with the latest information. Even if you just change suites in an office building, update that online right away. This will prevent confusion and frustration, which could hurt your business’ rankings.
You now know which directories you need to be on, as well as how to show up in directory searches. If you put into practice what you’ve learned today, you’re guaranteed to be pleased with the results. So what are you waiting for?!