Chauncey: Welcome to the Being Found Show. We are here to help small and local businesses be found by more buying customers online. I came across an article from searchengineland.com called Six Local Tips for Small Business SEO Success. We are going to be covering one of the six business tips in this segment; we included the first tip and our discussion in our previous segment: Properly Optimize Information On Your Business’ Website.

Secure, Build Out And Update Your Business Listings On Local Websites

The second tip that we are going to talk about from the Search Engine Land article is how to secure, build out and update your business listings on local websites. This is probably the most effective way to boost local SEO and one of the basics. Google and other search engines are constantly searching through your sites, and if your information is accurate or incomplete, you run the risk of negatively impacting the ranking of your business.

Jake: I was in the Marines for eight years, and in the beginning, we learned all of the basics for everyday duties. It was easy to learn, but we still had to go back and review it from time to time, and that is what we are doing here. You make sure you have a foundation and then going back to refresh and heading off again.

Chauncey: That is a good point. I think with any specialized career, pulling it out of just what the businesses can do up to our level, it’s easy to get trapped down the rabbit hole by spending hours of work on something that is ineffective without the framework. We should explain what securing, building out, and updating your business’s listing on local websites is before going into what you can and should do.

You have thousands of listings, or free yellow pages, across the internet. The obvious reason you have them would be someone linking back to you on various platforms like Dex or even Facebook. Google will scan through thousands of sites containing bits of your information and will be able to say that they trust your site because the information is consistent across the web. The more trustworthy the website is, the more Google is going to serve your site up in the search results for its consumers.

Jake: If I can add one more thing to that, the rule of 80/20 applies here as well. 80% of the power of some of these is going to come from about 20% of the actual listings themselves. So consider the top 20; Facebook, Yelp, and Yellow pages are the important ones. If you can get your information accurately and consistently across the top 20 places on the web, you are off to a good start.

“Search leading local listings websites ranging from DexKnows, Facebook, and Google to Yelp, YP, and Yellowbook to ensure that your business is listed, that you have “claimed” your listing, and that the business name, phone and address posted are consistent and accurate. Make changes as necessary and delete duplicate pages,” Local sites like Google+, Yelp and TripAdvisor hold a lot of weight in search results, so it’s important to get it right.”

Chauncey: Our first action item is to search leading local listings websites ranging from DexKnows, Facebook, and Google to Yelp, YP, and Yellowbook to ensure that your business is listed. There’s an easier way to do this. So for you newbies out there, when you search on Google, if you put a word in quotes, it will only return results that contain that word. So put your business name in quotes and search and bring up all the websites that aren’t yours and check and see if the information is right and consistent. Then try a variation or a part of your business name just in case they have your business name wrong. That’s a good and realistic way to get started to find and weed out the big ones because Google immediately is going to serve you up the big sites and most relevant results.

Another way to do it is, as Jake said, to search up the top 20 citations and make your way through that list. It is a lot easier if you aren’t even listed in the first place on these sites. You’re going to encounter situations where you can correct business information, and you attempt to correct it, and they’re going to ask you to create an account and verify that you are the business owner. It can get tedious and is time-consuming. Making sure the information is accurate the first time around can limit this stress.

There are people out there, like Moz, who can help you. For about 100 bucks a year, which is not a bad price, I think that Moz is the way to get started. They get you going, and you do the clean up around that. Build out your listings with photos, videos, websites, URLs, and other key information to make your listing more informative and attractive to potential customers.

Matt Morgan from Optimized Worldwide here in Redding refers to this as “profile completeness.” What this means is if you have the opportunity to share about your business, take it. Don’t just stick your information in there and call it a day, but put in the effort to fill it out, put it in the photos and stuff like that. There are two reasons why this is important. The first reason is if somebody comes across it, they have trustworthy information and a way to convert to your site, so you gain traffic and business.

The second is it also adds weight to that page that’s linking back to your site. So let’s say your competitor didn’t do this, but you did. Now you have a page that’s a little bit more valuable than their page, and it’s linking back to your site, making your site a little bit more valuable. So if you have the opportunity, fill it out. Google has put some hard numbers behind those statistics and verified that citations are a crucial part of ranking higher in search results.

Going down the list provided by Search Engine Land, a lot of this is going to cover the same stuff that we were already saying because we got ahead of ourselves. Ensure that your business is listed in the appropriate categories so it can be properly optimized. Relevant keywords in the business name help too. Include both the business type and location.

However, don’t overdo it with unnecessary keywords in the business name or search engines will take note and it will negatively impact your results. What this means is you need to be consistent. If you are a plumber, you need to be found where people are looking for you, so you need to put yourself in relevant categories.

Before you start, the best thing to do is make yourself a spreadsheet of immovable or non-negotiable business identification. Use the information that is unchanging and consistent each time you use it, right down to the comma. It is a mess when businesses names aren’t consistent like being Billy’s Bakery NYC half of the time and Bakery owned by Bill the other. I ask to see the paperwork because I need to know the actual name of their business. Consistency is key.

“When your business isn’t listed — or the information listed about it is incomplete or inaccurate — there is a risk of diminishing or negatively impacting your business’ placements in search results.” Search Engine Land. Thank you for listening to this segment of the Being Found Show, to hear the full show listen here: Being Found Show Episode #58 or subscribe to our Podcast.