To help understand the need, requirements and processes of ‘Local SEO’ we have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions.
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Why do I need to claim and control my listings?
Your listings are compiled by people and machines that do not know you. Although some strive to keep them up-to-date, a survey found that 40% of listings are out of date or incorrect. An incorrect listing can confuse your customers and Google. Unclaimed listings can also be ‘hijacked’ which means they can be changed without your knowledge (deliberately or otherwise).
ANYONE can claim your listing and make changes which can affect your local search ranking. Just a small change, like changing your business category can seriously affect how and where you appear in local search results.
We have many examples of listings that have the wrong business names, address, phone numbers, categories, descriptions and weblinks. Only by claiming your listings can you control them, so that they look, feel and say what you want them to.
Why do I need to control my branding on local listing sites?
Google and local listing sites ‘aggregate’ content about you at a location level. Left unchecked, this can result in outdated or even inaccurate information about your brand appearing on multiple listing sites.
Who should control your listings?
The easy answer is the local business owner, however, if you are a chain, you will have many local branch managers, which will make it very difficult to maintain and control. Without a clear owner you run the risk of losing control or sub-optimising your branch listings. The more branches you have, the bigger the problem. Consider this:
- Who ensures the listings are correct and conform to your brand policy?
- Who controls the login details for each listing site for each location?
When should I optimise my listings?
The short answer is, as soon as possible! However, depending on what stage you are at with your business you need to consider the following:
- Started a new local business?
If you do nothing, it will take months (sometimes never) for your business details to get onto the various listing sites. Tell us as soon as you can and we will get the listings up and running and working for you. The sooner you establish your online reputation the more confidence your customers will have that you are a going concern. Tell us as soon as you have a trading address and phone number.
- Opened a new branch?
If you open a new branch, you need to remove ALL the previous business details associated with the branch address and replace them with yours as quickly as possible! If you don’t do this, there will be conflicting information between the new and old listings which will confuse your customers and Google. Tell us as soon as you know when your branch will open and we will coordinate the set-up to coincide with the launch date.
- Moved premises?
You need to ensure ALL your listings are updated and correct to match your new location and even telephone number. However, just as with opening a new branch, you need to ensure the old details associated with the premises are removed. Depending on where you are moving to, it may be possible to transfer all your listing details to your new address. The benefit for doing this is that you can take your reputation with you. For example, if you have loads of great reviews, we can help you take these with you to your new address.
- Changed your business name?
Changing your business name can have significant implications to your local listings. If done badly, you can end up with duplicate listings for your old name AND your new one. How is Google supposed to know which is correct? If Google gets confused it won’t show either listings. We strongly advise getting professional advice before changing your local listings for brand name changes.
What are the challenges in setting up and managing the location listings sites myself?
Most business listing sites enable the business owner to claim and manage the listings themselves. However, this is easier said than done. Aside from the time required to do it, there are many challenges that you will need to overcome in order to take full advantage of these local sites, including:
- Identifying the sites most relevant to your sector and location
- Evaluating sites to determine which ones are worth doing
- Learning how to set-up each site
- Preparing content and business descriptions for each site
- Claiming and activating the listings via telephone, email or post
- Managing the set-up processes which can be spread over several days
- Optimizing each site with appropriate content for brand consistency
- Identifying the right resources
- Finding the time
- Managing login details for several different sites
- Keeping track of changes to the sites and their implications
- Keeping the listings ‘fresh’ (stale listings can drop down the rankings)
- Ensuring each site presents the right brand message.
- Alternatively, just get MiShop.local to do this for you!
I already have a website, why do I need local business listings?
Local search is about your location. If you sell your products locally you must must must register your phone number and address on the right listing sites if you want to appear in local search. Anyone can have a website, but not everyone can physically exist everywhere! So a physical address is a real advantage in local search. Google Places and hundreds of other listing sites get your address from key directories NOT your website. If you put your address on your website but not on the right directories, you will not appear in local search results.
I don’t have a website, can I appear in local on-line search results?
Yes! You don’t need a website to appear in local search – you just need an address and phone number. We have many customers that do not have a website, yet get better local search result than a business with a website but no address!
If you are starting out and only have a small budget, you would be better served getting your local listings sorted first rather than putting your money into a website that does not get seen.
I service a large catchment area, can I appear in search results way beyond my location?
Yes and No! Depending on what business you are in, it is possible to specify the region in which you operate. However the emphasis of local search is very much about location. So the further you are away from the person searching, the lower your chances of them seeing you. You can pay for adverts in Google Places and other listing sites to get you seen beyond your location.
Can I use false addresses to increase my local search results?
No! Aside from this being unethical, Google and major listing sites conduct their own checks to ensure that you physically exist at a given address.
Is there any point in having loads of listings when Google is the main search site?
Yes! The more consistent your business information on multiple listing sites, the more confidence Google has that you physically exist in that location and that you are relevant and interesting. Also, many local listing sites appear in the top web search terms for local search; so if someone does not click on your Google listing, they may yet find you in the local listing page that they click on instead. We have clients that appear several times on the front page of Google, but as part of a local listing web page. They have significantly increased their chances of being called.
I am on many local business listing sites already. Why do I need to be on all of them?
Different business-listing sites attract different people. For example, some sites are used more by women than men or attract a particular age group or demographic. Some specialise is certain types of business search, some are “Social Local” meaning that they combine local information with social networking. With hundreds of local listing sites, you cannot assume that all your potential customers will use the ones you’re signed up to.
My business details already appear to be on many sites. Why do I need MiShop.local?
Business listing sites use the same ‘core list’ of numbers. However, they only show basic information, i.e. business name, type of business, address and telephone number. Most don’t have details of what you do, opening times, logos, photos etc, which help your listing stand out and make you more interesting to the search engines. Also, the information they have many not be correct. You need to take control and ensure it is how you want it!
Why is review writing so important in local search?
Reviews are important in local search when they are associated with your address. Specifically on key local listing sites and Google Places. The reviews indicate to Google that people are talking about you, and interestingly, the words that people write can appear in Google key word searches. For example, say you are a hairdresser in Brighton and someone writes “best Brazillian blow dry I have ever had” on your local listing – if someone searches in Google for “brazillian blow dry in Brighton”, Google will find this review (and the listing associated with it) and put it in the search results. Get your customers talking about you and you will rise up the search results.
I’m not sure I like people writing reviews about my business
Whether you like it or not, they are doing it already and you can’t stop it! Word-of-Mouth is the most valuable form of advertising and the Internet allows people to tell everyone what they think about you. If you do not accept this and listen to your customers, you are potentially losing business. Why wouldn’t you want your customers writing positive reviews about you? Yes you may get a bad review occasionally, but by knowing what’s being said about you, you can address bad comments and potentially turn them into your favour. People also take a balanced view. On-line reviews are permanent, however they are dated, so if there are lots of reviews, people will tend to read the most recent ones.
Think about this; you probably read customer reviews yourself. If you saw two business listings together, one a paid advert with no customer reviews, the other a free add with 5 customer reviews, which would you read first? Which one would you feel more confident about calling?
Does MiShop.local make up customer reviews?
NO – false reviews are unethical. Also, customers and Google can spot false reviews, which will damage your business. We don’t make up reviews or write reviews; instead we provide the “writeaboutus” service to get your happy customers to write real reviews for you.