Local Listings for your Business – What, Why & How

As a kid, I loved looking up phone numbers in the Yellow Pages for my parents.  A business had to have a listing in the local phone book back then to get found by consumers like us.

Now, I can’t remember the last time I pulled out an actual phone book to search for a local business.  Can you?

As phone books were phased out, the Yellow Pages and many more companies created online local listing websites, and mapping apps to keep up with the mobile, smart phone consumers.

So before, when I had maybe 2-3 different phone books, the information was easy enough to keep updated and consistent.  Now there’s a ton of local listing websites, and mapping apps out there with no single source for all of this data, which makes it really easy for your business information to get entered incorrectly, have multiple listings, etc.

What are local listings?
Google+ Local, Yelp, Bing Places, Yellow Pages, and Yahoo! Local are some of the local listing websites you might recognize.  Hopefully, each of the local listing websites has a “profile” in their system for your business. The information you can display in your profile varies somewhat from site to site, but typically it contains business name, address, and phone number.

43% of US business listings had an incorrect or missing address

The owner of the business, once verified, can “claim” the listing, update the information they have online for you if needed, and add details about your business that they are missing.  The verification process is different from site to site, so you’ll need to follow the instructions on each one to ensure you complete their process to claim the business listing as your own.

Why do you need local listings?
The purpose of creating local listings is to make your business visible on the internet with accurate and consistent information, and to increase your ranking in local searches.

According to Moz, the #1 negative local ranking factor is a “listing detected at false business location”.

Mismatched NAP (name, address, and phone number) is the 3rd biggest negative ranking factor.  It’s pretty clear that inaccurate local listing data will kill your local SEO, which is fairly vital to your business’ online success.

How do you setup and/or update your local listings?
It’s not easy, but I have a few options for you to consider:

  1. If you have nothing else to do for the next 3-6 months… Manually locate and update each local listing for your business.  You can start this process by just typing in your company name, city and state into a search engine.  Sift through the results that produces, go to each local listing website, and claim/verify/update your profile with them individually.
  2. If you have about 6-10 hours of uninterrupted time you can dedicate… Sign up with a reputable local listing service.  Typically, you can enter /manage your company information in their system, and they will handle updating it to the local listing websites for you.
  3. Hire someone to take care of it for you.  If a service is recommended to you from another business that is using it, search for their company name, city and state in a search engine to see how their local listings rank and look.

If going with #2 or #3, you’ll want to use a service that allows you to make the most use of your local listings, which should be much more than just name, address, and phone number… videos, photo galleries, payments accepted, hours of operation, social media links, website address, etc., AND helps you get rid of the duplicate local listings for your business.

Keep in mind, when you use a service to claim / verify / update your local listings, if you decide to cancel that service, you might need to start all over again with the local listings.

Local Listings Scan

Click HERE to run a free scan of your local listings.

Send me an email, cindy@rvusa.com, if you would like me to send you our Local Listings Plan information.

Cindy Spencer  🙂

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with RVUSA.com, TrailersUSA.com and RVCanada.com. Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with responsive website design, website & email hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance, SEO, and much more. Connect with Cindy on Google+.

 

 

Generic SEO Emails to Watch Out For

seoimageSEO, Search Engine Optimization, is a term many scammers / spammers use to attract the attention of anyone with a website. The promise of page 1 placement in the search engines, the guarantee of top ranking for your keywords, search engine optimization at a very low cost, etc., are all tricks I’ve seen used in the generic emails these “SEO Companies” send to, I’m certain, tens of thousands of email accounts every day. I get at least 5 of these emails on a typical day myself. Most of them claim that your website doesn’t rank well “organically” in the search engines. I find this particular statement very funny because they most likely found your website, to send you this spam email, via the search engines. All of their promises seem to be too good to be true, and they are, so don’t put yourself in a predicament where you trust one of these companies with your website – the engine that drives the success of your business.

I recently read a case study from a website design company that created a website for an attorney. The attorney loved the website and loved the results from his website. But, after receiving an email that guaranteed him placement in major search engines, he signed a contract. The company that built / hosted his website, was able to watch his search engine traffic fall 78% over the course of a single month via Google Analytics. He is now a statistic… one of the many who fall for the old SEO sales pitch.

There are a number of ways / reasons that they target you, including:

  • You have a PPC Campaign -> Obviously, if you have a Pay-Per-Click campaign, being found in the search engines is important to you.  The “SEO Companies” will call or email you, promising the moon and stars for down-to-earth prices.
  • You registered a domain name -> Typically, if you’ve registered a domain name, your going to build a website on it and search engine optimization will be required.  The best person or company to handle your SEO is generally going to be the person/company that built it for you, if they can.  If they can’t, find out who they recommend.
  • Searches -> It’s a piece of cake to go to one of the search engines, do a search for a common product or service, skip to page 5 or so and start picking off the websites that are on that page and beyond.  As a rule, the easier you are to find, the more of these generic SEO emails you will get.

Here’s a few of the emails that my customers have received:

Hello Jerry,

I was doing some research on your company and saw that you are spending a lot of money on Google Adwords. But your organic rankings on Google are pretty low, despite the fact that 85% of traffic goes to the organic search results.

My company does online marketing for over 1,000 companies just like yours and I think we could make a big difference for you.

I’d like to give you a short presentation on the tests I ran on your site.

Are you available to chat this week?

—————————————————————————————————

Good Morning Team,

I reviewed your website this morning, and I would like to share some ideas with you to improve your overall online presence.

Please let me know if you would like to setup a time to meet and discuss your website needs further!

—————————————————————————————————

Hello,
Hope you are well. As part of our client research, we came across your website and noticed your site is not ranking in the most important search engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing. I was wondering if you would be interested in search engine optimization services for your website at a very low cost.

Proper search engine optimization will increase your brand recognition, web traffic and grow your sales, which is why you have a web site to begin with right?

We can promote your website to 1st page placement on Google, Yahoo, or Bing in three to six months guaranteed with our “National SEO” package. Three to six months is typical for all our SEO packages!

So let me know if you would be interested or like me to mail you more details or schedule a call. We would love to work with you!

—————————————————————————————————

Because search engine optimization takes time and getting good “organic” rankings takes even longer, you could easily be 1-2 months into your contract with the “SEO Company” before you realize you’ve been scammed.

No one can guarantee you specific placement in the organic listings of the search engines.  Anyone who does is lying to you.

A few things for you to think about…

  1. If you are provided with a “free website analysis”, most likely that report will be a template they send out to thousands of people, telling all of them their websites performance is ok to poor.  Keep in mind, actually doing a website report takes several hours to do it right, if not more.  So if they churn out this report to you in a matter of minutes and/or they are scoring you in categories that aren’t relevant to your website, beware.
  2. If you get a call, rather than an email from these folks, most often they are telemarketers that have very little knowledge themselves of SEO.  They read from scripts, hit the highlights of SEO lingo, have a sense of urgency, etc., but if you start questioning them, you’ll find they start to fumble.
  3. Some of these emails may be to submit your website to the search engines.  Keep in mind, submitting your website to the search engines before it’s optimized can harm your rankings.  In order for anyone to optimize your website, they would need to have access to it, via FTP, the CMS tool integrated with your website, etc.
  4. In order to determine the cost associated with optimization for your website, it first must be analyzed individually, and the time it takes to do this varies from site-to-site.  So if you get emails or calls with fixed pricing for this service, beware.

I hope you find this information helpful and I’ve helped you avoid a mistake that could take several months to a year to recover from.  I truly believe that we can help educate each other by sharing our stories, both failures and successes.  So please share yours with us here by commenting below.

Cindy Spencer  🙂

Cindy SpencerCindy Spencer, an Account Manager at NetSource Media since 2000, works with clients across the US with RVUSA.com, TrailersUSA.com and RVCanada.com.  Cindy and her in-house team of designers and programmers helps dealers with website design & hosting, inventory management & distribution, website maintenance & SEO and much more.  Connect with Cindy on Google+.

What do you mean “organic” search results?

I’ve explained the difference between “organic” or “natural” search engine listings vs. the Google Pay-Per-Click ads many times over the years and with this new media to speak to you I wanted to post about it because there are still a lot of people who don’t understand.

1.  What is “organic” or “natural” listings and where are they?
These listings are the non-biased search engine results on any particular search engine, which means they won’t accept any amount of money to influence the rankings of any individual website.  Chances are when you perform a search you’ll get thousands of the free listings that have been found by search engine spiders and then ranked by relevancy according to the search engine’s methodology.  Each search engine algorithm uses a variety of factors that influence your websites organic search position including:  website structure, page content, link popularity, traffic and how often the content is updated.  In the image below, I’ve highlighted in red the “organic” (free) listings:
google_001

2.  What is Sponsored Listings and where are they?
The sponsored listings are located at the top and right side of the search results page on Google.com.  The most popular type is a keyword-based Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaign and anyone can set-up a campaign.  With a keyword-based campaign you, the advertiser, bids on search terms (keywords) consisting of words or phrases.  Typically the highest bidder for each keyword will be listed at the top, however in recent years the quality and relevance of the landing page has been added to the algorithm to determine placement.  Your Cost-Per-Click (CPC) will vary depending on the search engine and the level of competition for a particular keyword or phrase.  The PPC advertising model is open to abuse through click fraud, which is when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user clicking on an ad for the purpose of generating a charge without having actual interest in the company or product.  Google and other search enignes have implemented automated systems to guard against abusive clicks by competitors or corrupt web developers.  In the image below, I’ve highlighted in blue the Sponsored Listings area:
google_002

It’s very important to make sure your website is optimized for the maximum “organic” search results possible.  Savvy searchers who do understand the difference between the paid and natural results are more likely to hold a higher regard for the natural listings.  When you’re flipping through a magazine, you’re probably going to have a more positive attitude about a company if you read an article about them than you would from a paid advertisement.

If you are a smaller company there are several advantages you have over the bigger companies that focus on the PPC campaigns.

  • Smaller companies can change their marketing stategies much quicker, this includes their website content and optimization, which affects their organic search engine listings, whereas larger companies can take months and sometimes years to make a decision.
  • Smaller companies are more likely to outsource specialized services, such as website optimization, to somone with proven experience.  Larger companies have more internal resources and will most likely dump this on their IT person, who typically has too much to do already.  These highly technical people often make mistakes that at best don’t get results and at worst put websites at risk of penalization.
  • Smaller companies have less technical hurdles, this includes databases that are not indexable by the search engines, a website built entirely in Flash and/or other technologies that are virtually invisible to search engines.

Some of the most glaring search engine mistakes are consistently made by household name companies, which leaves their smaller competitors the opportunity to take full advantage.

If you have any questions, email me – I’d be more than happy to help.

Cindy Spencer 🙂

NEXT BLOG:  What are the Pro’s and Con’s of linking to the manufacturer’s websites?

How does the text on your website help in the search engines?

In an effort to make your website cooler or jazzier than your competitors one of the first things people tend to do is remove the text and put in graphics or Flash elements.  Now that may make it look better than your competitors website but if their website is “search engine friendly”, meaning the spiders can crawl their website and index / rank it more effectively, they will get higher rankings in the search engines.

You could have the coolest website in the world but if it’s not designed so the spiders can index it properly chances are not many people will know about it.  You can optimize a website once it’s been designed but it’s so much easier to do that during the build process.

When creating the text for each page make sure the meta tags have the top 5-10 keywords from that specific page repeated in them.  Your title tag should have 70-90 characters (including spaces), your keyword tag should have no more than 20-25 keywords (separated by commas) and your description tag should have no more than 250 characters (including spaces). 

I’ve seen a lot of dealers who tend to put their competitors names in their keywords.  In order for that to be effective you have to repeat those names in the text on the page, which of course you don’t want to do.  You’ll have more success when you concentrate on your state, major cities, models, manufacturers and types.

Remember, the top 5-10 keywords or phrases should be repeated several times in the text of the page for the optimum density.