If you operate a retail or service business that depends on local traffic but your site doesn’t come up in search when and where it should, OR if your business moved and you aren’t showing up in the right location, OR if your business doesn’t show up on smartphone maps, don’t panic. It’s all fixable.
There are four primary sources of inaccurate information in local search that you can fix right away:
- Bing/Yahoo Network
- Apple Maps
- Lack of correct information on your own website.
Let's break that down...
Accurate and complete listings are key. Pay attention to the contact information you provide, store hours, etc. and carefully choose from the available categories. If you don’t see an appropriate category, pick the best one for now, provide feedback and ask for a new category. Google and Bing have done this and will continue to do so as our business economy evolves. Check back in a month or two to see if new category options have been added.
- Google. Sign up for a Google account if you don’t already have one so you can set up and verify your business on Google My Business and report any inaccuracies to Google Maps. This is the same account you will also use for Google Analytics, Search Console, AdWords and YouTube. Everything is accessed through a single Google login. We recommend forwarding your Google Gmail account to your business email if you don’t use Gmail for work. The verification process in Google My Business typically involves a phone call to your business or a postcard verification.
- Bing/Yahoo Network. Sign up for a Microsoft account so you can similarly verify your business listings on Bing Places for Business, Bing Maps, and then submit your site to Bing Webmaster Tools. If you sign up for Bing Ads, you’ll use this login.
- Apple Maps is the iPhone default. Unfortunately, their business database is far from complete and accurate. The good news: Apple is very good about responding to edits. You’ll start at https://mapsconnect.apple.com/ and follow directions for setting up your Apple ID/account. Verification is similar… typically by phone.
- Make sure your company name, address and phone number (NAP) is consistent on all of your website pages, header and footer. Google recommends implementing structured data markup for your address information, which is explained here. You can pass this link along to your website developer for implementation. This ensures they extract exactly the right information to display on their listings.
If you’ve completed the above steps, you’re 80% of the way to correcting any missing or incorrect information. The other 20% of local search results are called “citations” from other directory sources. Which directories you choose to update will depend on your industry, your competition, and the city in which your business is located. Google and Bing clearly consider different directories as authoritative or relevant depending on the subject matter, line of business and metro area. Some of these directories are more active in some locations than others. I start with actual searches to determine which citations will be most important to the particular client.
These directories or citations may include securing/updating listings (paid and free) on the following:
- YP/Yellow Pages/Superpages
- Open Table
- Angie’s List
- Trip Advisor
- And sometimes it makes sense to ensure you’re listed on GPS for Garmin/Tom Tom, etc: https://poidirectory.com/
There may be other directories depending on the business category. There are new players entering and leaving the market regularly.
Here are a few more tips to get your local SEO game on point:
- Cultivate reviews. They ARE important. Our eyes gravitate toward businesses that have a lot of stars.
- Mark your territory. What if your service territory goes beyond the city in which you are located? In Google My Business, you have the ability to designate your service area. This will trigger your site in local map search results in the radius you specify. Be sure to mention the cities you service on your website copy and in your site’s meta data and image alt attributes, as well.
- Be sure your website is mobile friendly. If not, it’s time for a new website. So much for the 80/20. This isn’t an easy fix, but it’s a necessary one, especially if you want to show up in Google search listings.
- Be patient and test, test, test. The landscape in local search results is constantly changing as search engines continue to refine the way they display information based on search queries. Perform test searches quarterly on a variety of devices using a variety of browsers to ensure you are showing up for your customers and prospects!
If you need help with search engine optimization for your company website, please feel free to contact our team any time. PMG's team of experts is happy to help!