Being found on Google Local+ (formerly known as Google Places) can be frustrating and time-consuming for small businesses. However, over 40% of searches are local and 80% of all mobile searches for local services and products, not being 'on the map' means you are losing business every time someone searches and you cannot be found. Having a franchise or a business with multiple locations can compound these problems requiring the creation of a holistic and consolidated strategy for local SEO.
The core work of any local search marketing campaign is the creation of local business listings. A local business listing is an online profile that contains your business name, address, phone number, and other details. There are thousands of websites and directories on which local business owners are allowed to create free business listings. Some you may already have heard about include Google+ Local, Yelp, Bing Places, Internet Yellow Pages, and Yahoo! Local.
The purpose of creating local listings is to make your business visible on the Internet. Each new listing you create increases your chances of being found by customers. At the same time, many of the local business indexes share data with each other. Thus, the more places you are listed and the more visible you are, the more these indexes trust the accuracy of your business data-increasing your chances of ranking well in local searches.
In order to qualify for a local business listing in any index, your business must meet all four of the following criteria:
- Have a business name
- Have a local phone number that matches your city of location (not a shared phone number, toll-free number, or call tracking number)
- Have a dedicated physical street address (not a shared address, PO box, or virtual office)
- Make face-to-face contact with your customers (business is not conducted virtually)
Without the proper listing on Google+ Local or Bing Local, your business cannot be found. If your business cannot be found, it is as good as invisible to prospective customers doing research online. With 4 out of 10 searches being a local search for a business just like yours, can you afford to simply step back and watch your customers choose the competition?
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