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Improve Your Local Search Rank with This Often Overlooked Tactic

Improve Your Local Search Rank with This Often Overlooked Tactic

by Shepard Morrow June 21, 2017

You’ve optimized your website copy for keywords and keyword variations. Ensured your site loads quickly. Included keyword-rich META tags. Used a mobile-friendly design.

But you’re still not as high in local search rank as your competitors.

I know that can be incredibly frustrating. You’re doing everything that’s recommended… but not getting the results your expected.

That just means you must take it deeper.

There are over 200 factors that Google uses to determine local search rank. So even though it may seem like you’re doing everything, you’re not.

In fact, all of the techniques mentioned above are on-page SEO techniques. Many companies just stop there. But there are many off-site SEO techniques you can do as well.

And there’s one key off-site factor that can be crucial to local business – yet I find that it’s often overlooked:

Local business directories.

These sites serve as portals that lead customers to the business they need. They often play a role in consumers’ purchase process.

Directory sites can generate visibility, promote brand recognition, and drive traffic. They also have a larger marketing budget than most small businesses.

As a result, they perform well in organic local search rank, often for keywords that are important to businesses.

It’s sort of a shortcut. You benefit from that high local search rank immediately upon being listed.

But it also helps your website’s local search rank.

Each business directory will share an accurate mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number. This is often called a NAP (name, address, phone) or a citation.

That citation can boost your organic local search rank and your Google Places rank – something that is particularly valuable for local businesses.

Here’s how it works.

Google doesn’t want to display inaccurate information. They don’t want to send customers driving to the wrong place. Or even calling the wrong number.

So they place a great deal of value on their confidence in the information share. How sure are they that this particular name, address, and phone is really correct?

The more verifications they get that it is correct, the more likely they are to share the information in a higher local search rank.

Okay, so where’s the downside?

Glad you asked…

Here it is: you’ll be listed right alongside those pesky local competitors.

So, don’t just get listed. Optimize your listings, too.

Provide compelling copy. Share special offers. Encourage conversions.

Okay… now that you understand why business listings are important, you’re probably wondering exactly which directory sites I’m talking about.

If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find lists upon lists of directory sites. The problem is they usually include a random assortment of sites, not the most relevant.

The list below includes only those directories that are truly important. The sites worth the investment of your time, energy, and marketing dollars.

I’ve divided the directories into two types of sites: the largest local business directories and the top local citation sources.

The Largest Local Business Directories

Here are the most important local business directories, listed from largest to smallest in terms of traffic.

By optimizing your information on these sites, you’ll expose your business to a wider potential local audience.

  1. Google Places
  2. Facebook
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Yellowpages.com
  5. Yelp
  6. Local.com
  7. WhitePages.com
  8. Manta
  9. SuperPages
  10. CitySearch
  11. Patch
  12. City-Data
  13. MerchantCircle
  14. Yellowbook.com
  15. Yahoo Local
  16. Mapquest
  17. Topix
  18. DexKnows
  19. Yellow.com
  20. BBB.org
  21. ServiceMagic
  22. Angieslist
  23. AreaConnect
  24. Foursquare
  25. AmericanTowns
  26. BizJournals
  27. LocalGuides
  28. 411.com
  29. Yellowpages.aol.com
  30. Insider Pages
  31. MagicYellow
  32. Hotfrog.com
  33. Mojopages
  34. Switchboard
  35. Demandforce
  36. MojoPages
  37. Bundle
  38. Metromix
  39. Yellowbot
  40. Kudzu
  41. ShowMeLocal
  42. ChamberofCommerce
  43. LocalPages
  44. HopStop
  45. YellowMoxie
  46. Phonenumber.com
  47. Best of the Web Local
  48. Yellowise
  49. GetFave
  50. Tupalo
  51. ZipLocal
  52. EZLocal
  53. CitySquares
  54. USCIty.net
  55. LocalDatabase

Top Sources for Local Directory Citation

As mentioned above, building citations is crucial to confirming your data for Google and other search engines in order to improve local search rank

These are the key sites to focus on, regardless of your business’s location or industry.

  1. Yellowpages.com
  2. Yelp
  3. SuperPages
  4. CitySearch
  5. Yahoo Local
  6. Facebook
  7. DexKnows
  8. Manta
  9. BBB.org
  10. YouTube
  11. City-Data
  12. Yellowbook.com
  13. Angieslist
  14. MerchantCircle
  15. ServiceMagic

Many may be surprised by the inclusion of Facebook and YouTube on this list.  Neither are technically directories, right?

True. But both are internet behemoths with a substantial amount of content related to local businesses. And that matters in Google’s eyes.

(Also, let’s not forget that YouTube is owned by Google, so it’s no surprise that the site is given weight.)

Do I really need to change anything?

Here’s a common argument I get from business owners about focusing on this strategy.

“I’m already listed on some of these. It’s fine.”

Or better yet…

“I already have a presence, and it’s not doing anything for me in terms of local search rank.”

I get it. Really I do. Past strategies for local search rank haven’t yielded results, so you’re wary of trying something new.

Let’s get this straight. There is no silver bullet. There is no guarantee. The factors driving local search rank are simply too complex.

But business directories can make a BIG difference, particularly for local businesses.

Remember, this usually makes a difference for local search rank. That means searches related to specific locations, like “dentist in Brooklyn” or “bike shop in South Florida.”

If you’re a business with a brick and mortar location, this means something valuable to you.

Also, you may be surprised by just how inaccurate your data is now. I mean, woefully inaccurate.

And if that’s the case, people may find your business online… but never find it in the real world.

You can see how your business stacks up with a quick and easy scan.

Take the Scan

It will pinpoint exactly where your data is lacking. And that will give you the opportunity to fix it.

Most of the time, there are just a few trouble areas to address.

But sometimes, it’s really, really eye opening how big of an issue you have. Particularly if your business has moved. That old address can haunt your local search rank for years after.

Here’s a fun thing to do, though? Who is your main competition? Plug in their information. How do they fare?

Are they overlooking business directories? If so, this could be that leg up in local search rank you’re seeking.

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