How Can I Get My Local Business to Rank Higher in Search?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.

For today’s answer I wish I could say there was some magic pixie dust, but the fact is getting your local business to show up high in the search results takes some work.

For the local business the goal must be to move into what is referred to as the Google Local Pack – those 6-8 listing that show up for a local search. This is particularly important on mobile devices that are often pinpointing local only.

The Google Local Pack

There are many factors and of course a great deal has to do with the competitive nature of your particular industry.

However, there are several tried and true steps that you should take in order to give your business the best chance possible

Clean up your NAP

NAP is the directory acronym for Name, Address and Phone. This data clearly tells that a business is local and guess what – if you’ve been around for a while there’s a good chance some data source has this wrong.

Here’s how to assure you have an accurate NAP listing in as many places as possible.

Go the USPS site and get the correct address format for your business

Check with these major data providers to ensure your listing is complete and accurate.

Get listed

Now that your listing is accurate with the data folks, make sure that you listing in some of the more popular online business directories. Claim enhance these profiles.

One of the best tools for doing this is getlisted.org – this free tool will find your listing or lack of in some of the major directories and lead you to the place where you can edit and add.

Brightlocal is another very powerful paid tool for improving your local presence.

Get reviewed

Reviews carry a lot of weight, both with search engines and would be customers. You must get serious about this aspect of local search. Note the image above – the site that ranks #1 in Google has the best review profile.

The three most important place to focus your review work are

  • Google+Local – Google want your business on Google+ so they’ve moved the local pages there. Start building your local page and focus on getting more reviews.
  • Yelp – On top of being the biggest review site Yelp provides Bing Local results.
  • Foursquare – this location based check in site is working hard on becoming a local directory and should not be ignored.

Bing local listings

Localize your pages

One of the most overlooking opportunities is the local nature of the content on your site. Make sure you:

  • Add your NAP in Schema.org format to every page
  • Add local terms such as suburbs, neighborhoods, places and events in your titles and subtitles.
  • Create localized happenings and news pages
  • Create site sections or landing pages dedicated to local phrases.

For WordPress users one of the best things you can invest in is the Local SEO for WordPress plugin from Yoast. This plug in will handle a great deal of the techie stuff for you and let you do some nice things with maps and directions.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Kevin Rains

    Did you mean Foursquare should *NOT* be ignored or did you really mean “ignore Foursquare” ?

    • Yes I did mean don’t ignore 4SQ – thanks

      • Kevin Rains

        ’cause you know I’m hanging on every word and just had to be sure! #blindobedience =) Thank you. Great post!

  • I can see where the reviews would be big John. Thanks for sharing the smart tips!

    Ryan

  • I’ve never heard of half of these directories. Good to know though, thanks for sharing.

    • Most of the ones you’ve never heard of are simply data compilers – they don’t really market publicly but mailing houses and search engines rely on them to collect and update data.

  • Philip Rozek

    Good overview, John.

    At least at the moment, CitySearch reviews give you a little more bang for your buck than do FourSquare “tips” (what their reviews are called). For one thing, CitySearch reviews (and to a lesser extent reviews from any site on the CityGrid network, like InsiderPages) get fed to 12-15 other sites. Including Bing Places. So if you have (say) 5 CitySearch reviews, you also have reviews on your listings on InsiderPages, JudysBook, MerchantCircle, and possibly Bing. That doesn’t happen with FourSquare reviews, though.

    Also, FourSquare doesn’t allow customers to use their Facebook usernames to post reviews – whereas CitySearch, InsiderPages, Yahoo, Angie’s List, YP, and other sites do. The fact that those sites don’t require customers to create whole separate logins makes it a little easier for most customers to post reviews.

    So although FourSquare may be on the rise, the sites I mentioned are already up there – and have been for some time.

    • Thanks Phillip – great addition

  • nilst2013

    I have a mail order publishing business located in the U.S. with buyers
    and subscribers all over the world. It’s extremely rare that we ever
    have customers visit our offices, because we are not retail and we
    operate out of our home. In fact, we don’t want to encourage local foot traffic
    to our location. All the buzz about getting listed in local directories
    and review sites seems irrelevant to us. Do you have any comments or
    suggestions for applying the insights in your article to a business like
    ours?

    • In your case this conversation isn’t relevant – it’s only for that small local business, but you still need to focus on reviews and SEO, just not local

      • nilst2013

        thanks, your reply helps clarify this issue so perhaps I can focus better on what’s most important; I’m sure there’s plenty more good stuff I can find on ducttape

  • Jon Clark

    Just starting to dabble in the local space. Does anyone know if there are fees / costs associated with updating NAP information in Acxion, Factual, etc?

    • Jon – most are free but offer some sort of premium service

    • Philip Rozek

      Acxiom and Factual are free. So is ExpressUpdate.com, although they’ll sort of push you toward using their white-labeled version of Yext, which you don’t need.

      LocalEze is a little more complicated. If your business is already listed on LocalEze, you can owner-verify it by phone and make one round of updates for free per year. However, if you want or need to update your listing on more than one occasion in a year, or if you’re not listed on LocalEze and want to add your listing for the first time, then you have to pony up the $300/year.

  • Tracy Edwards

    Thank you for this article have been through it in depth and it is very useful but I wondered if you know of any of the sites you have mentioned that cover UK businesses?

  • Guest

    FYI there’s some typos in the text

  • Stephanie

    Hi John,

    Great article. Couple of questions, I have a “by appointment only” business and therefore don’t want to list my full address. Most local directories allow for this, some require an address. Does this adversely affect my local ranking? I know you put a lot of emphasis on NAP. 2nd question, if I could be so bold 🙂 Yext was very aggressive about trying to persuade me to purchase their local directory “services” for $400 plus per year. They claimed to have some sort of hierarchy in their ability to get businesses ranked higher due to their “partnerships” with Google, Bing, etc. Is this true? I hate to have to pay for their service if I can do it myself; however, when I check my ranking on MOZ local, I’m at an abysmal 41% accuracy.

    • Stephanie – Yes – no address does impact your ranking to some degree, but you have settings in your GMB to deal with not listing your address. When it comes to the directories you can do this on your own. The real value of Yext is that they do it for you and do have partnerships that allow them to submit and change directly – but no they don’t have the ability to get you ranked higher per se. The MOZLocal tool is a good tool and you can use it for far less than Yext but it’s a little more manual. Don’t worry too much about the 41% on the scan – those tools are sort of set up to get you buy the service to improve your ranking so they will point out places where maybe you haven’t fully optimized a profile. You’re really just trying to make sure you don’t have multiple addresses and phone numbers listed in different places.

      • Stephanie

        Hi John,

        Thank you for the prompt response! I have a business address but it’s just a mailing address and google maps rejected it, or rather asked for a photo of the front of the business showing the hours of operation. I decided it was cleaner to go with “by appointment only” and not list hours of operation. I take appointments at my home for the time being. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to keep my information 100% consistent on all local directories. Some directories, like Bing for instance require “hours of operation”. I’m curious if you think it’s better to not list on directories like Bing that require hours of operation in order to keep my information consistent. The drag is Bing is Yahoo. I’d hate to not list on Yahoo. Thank you in advance for your time! Stephanie