How to avoid Wrong Turns on the “Local Search” Highway

Local search is a tricky beast to understand, let alone tame.  This is evidenced by the fact that it is possible to achieve a number one ranking for a local search term without even owning a domain name for your store or office.  While there are many ways to optimize your website that can help you improve your local search rankings, many of the factors that can help or hurt you lie in your local business listing.The local business listing, more often than not, is created by a representative of the company for whom the listing will appear.  Local business listings can be tailored to a variety of industries, offerings and specific details such as acceptable forms of payment, hours of operation, and much more.  The local business center can allow you to enter in your choice of phone number (local or toll free), coupon offerings, and website information (if applicable).Last month I talked about the emerging trend of using mobile technology to access local business results.  I also offered up a few easy ways to optimize your website or local business listing for the local search engines.  This time around, I will discuss a few things that your local business listing might be doing that could hinder your local search engine rankings.

Few Easy Ways To Optimize Your Website

1.       Inaccurate Information – In some cases, a company will have a local business listing that they did not create.  This occurs because different local search engines pull information from different sources.  If a company has created a local business account, this will be the primary source of information.  However, many local search engines pull information from review sites such as “Insider Pages” or “Yelp.”  If the data contained in these reviews is inaccurate, (i.e. wrong phone number, address, etc.) it can create a conflict within the local search engines.  If you see that your company has multiple business listings within a local search engine, there are options to verify your listing, if you hold a local business account.  Unfortunately, the search engines view multiple listings as spam, so great care should be taken to make sure that all mentions of your business refer back to the local business listing that was created by you.

2.       Lack of Reviews – The importance of reviews to your Local Search Rankings are very debatable.  If they factored too high into the algorithm, competitors would write bad reviews for your company and owners/operators would write millions of great reviews on their own business.  The review, in my opinion, exists to confirm the information about your business that has been submitted.  The Local Search Engines use the information contained in your review to verify factors such as service offerings and location.  The more reviews you have, the more refined your listing will become, making you more credible.  The Local Search Engines base their success on providing credible search results.

3.        Misleading Information – This can include a variety of different aspects such as having multiple businesses with the same phone number or multiple addresses for the same business.  Many times, even if this is legitimate, the search engines will view them as spam.  If you have multiple businesses across the city, they should each have a unique phone number, even if calls are all directed to the same location.  If you have multiple locations across the same city, great care should be taken to ensure that each listing remains unique or else the search engines will eventually merge the listings into one location.  This can be done by having unique reviews written about each location, and even opening up separate Local Business Accounts for each one, even if they are all managed by the same individual.

Optimization of a Website

Often times, the optimization of a website or Local Business Listing can take a significant amount of tedious effort.  This is essential to seeing an increase in rankings.  If you are serious about optimizing your listing and ensuring that you are ranking as high as possible for your local services, you will take the time to ensure that your business listings are verified and that the reviews contain accurate information.  By paying close attention to what could be hindering your listing from achieving first page rankings, you can make careful steps to avoid these pitfalls and you should see your listings improve.

Aaron Garcia
SEO Analyst