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Local Search - Claiming Your Brand's Online Identity


Nov. 19, 2012 11:42 am

Image: IT Jargon
Googled your business lately?  Customers are using search engines to find your address, phone number and service information as well as to determine your credibility.  Not pleased with the search engine results for your brand?  Take heart, there are steps you can take to claim your brand's identity online.

The Basics - Your Website

Your brand's website is the first step to claiming your business identity.  Start with a Contact Us page with your business's address, phone number and relevant information.  Be sure to included the cities you provide services to on your website as well.  Blog posts that are sporadically sprinkled with the areas you provide services to will round out your local search results.

Low Hanging Fruit - Social Media

Create a business page on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn for free.  Be sure to fill out as much information as you can on each site.  List the hours your business is open, street address, services provided and any relevant imagery as well as a link to your website.  This information will, 1) provide search engines with your address/phone number to list in their results and, 2) add a credibility to prospective customers.

Online Directories - A Little Time, But Well Worth It

A number of directories exist that will list your business information for free.  Here are a few of our favorites:
google.com/placesforbusiness
local.yahoo.com
bing.com/local
In addition, there are a multitude of smaller directories out there well worth claiming as well.  A great way to check out if you're listed properly is to use a search tool.  You can easily see the directories where you're already listed and the ones you'll need to visit and add your information. Some of the notables are:
yext.com
getlisted.org
ubl.com
These services provide listing information for free but then charge to help you fix your listings. If you want to save some cash and fix your listings yourself, it's not hard but it will take time.  Many of the listed directories will have you verify your ownership of the business information through a phone call or post card.

As with your brand's social media profiles, be sure to fill in as much relevant information as each directory allows to lend credibility.

Create Engagement

A great enhancement to your directory listings is customer reviews.  What is the best way to get a review?  Simply to ask. If you do receive reviews, many directories allow you to respond to it.  Thank commenters for their patronage, respond to so-so reviews and address any negative reviews.

Why Claim My Brand's Identity?

Time is a commodity.  Why should you spend time on these business directories?

1.  Almost all of these are free!

2.  Free traffic to your website or front door!

3.  Search engines cross-check these directories.  The more directories that have your info listed properly will lend to the credibility of your brand's online presence.

4.  Ensure search engines are giving customers the proper info--not an old address or phone number.

5.  If you don't claim this information, someone else may.
Wait, what?  That's right.  We've had a client who had their brand's identity claimed by a competitor.  Their name, address and phone number were marked as:  "Out of Business".  Ouch!  Immoral.  And, not good for business.   Claim your brand's info before someone else does!

Tips

* Be sure you use the same address and even format the address the same way in every instance.  "123 Main Street, Suite 23" looks different to search engines than, "123 Main St. Ste. #23".  Be consistent.  Every time.

* Adding a photo of the exterior of your business is a great way to help customers become acquainted with your business before they even get in their car!

*Spread these tasks out over a month.  That way, you won't be overwhelmed by the process.

* Keep checking periodically, even after you've made your changes.  If a site or directory you've missed is feeding other directories, your work can be unravelled.


A few other great articles to on improving your local marketing

5 Ways to Improve Local Search Results for Business
How to Claim Your Online Identity and Keep It Relevant

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